Now we left off last week with the last part of Psalm 23:4 where David went on to say, “…Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” So, let’s pick back up this week with this phrase:
THE SHEPHERD’S ROD AND STAFF
Now both the shepherds’ rod and staff served a purpose in their duties as a Shepherd.
The rod was considered more of his weapon. It was what he used to ward off predators and to defend his flock. So, I would liken the rod of our Good Shepherd to God’s Word - for it is His Word that is the offensive weapon of God’s kingdom.
If you recall, it was Moses’ rod that was used time and time again as the instrument that brought Egypt to its knees. The magicians of Pharaoh did the same miracle as Moses the first time because demons are good at doing lying signs and wonders. And that’s a good lesson for us. Just because something supernatural happens, doesn't mean it's of God. If it's not found in the Word, don't believe it. If it's not bringing glory to God, it's not God. We must be grounded in the Word, both to be empowered and to not be deceived by wrong doctrines. But then Moses' rod gobbled up the ones of the magicians. Yes, the Great I Am gave Moses this rod to execute the judgment of God on the king of Egypt, and this honor have all the saints today - to execute on the principalities and powers the written judgment of God! Amen? (see Psalm 149:5-9).
We too have God’s “rod” today that brings comfort to our souls. As Romans 15:4 calls it, “the comfort of the Scriptures.” And 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” His truths and promises give us the comfort that our God will provide, that He will deliver us, that He is indeed with us and for us! God’s Word is God’s Rod with a capital “W”! Amen?
Now the shepherd’s staff served a different purpose: First of all, it was the distinguishing mark of a shepherd. Yes, that long staff with the rounded hook at the top was one of the primary ways that one was recognized as a shepherd.
However, the staff was not used just for show. It was a tool that the shepherd used for tending to his flock of sheep. It has been said that the shepherd would use his staff to “hook” his sheep for the purpose of leading and guiding them.
This is why I see the staff as symbolic of the Holy Spirit: He is the tool (more literally, the Person) that God uses to lead and guide His sheep today. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is to us today the distinguishing mark of our Shepherd. In other words, He is the part of the Godhead who reveals to us who our Good Shepherd is. His job is to glorify the Good Shepherd and to lead us unto Him. Amen.
You need the priority of the Word and the Holy Spirit in your life. Spend time in the Word and communion with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a goose bump, He is a person. Talk to the Holy Spirit. You don't have to pray to talk to the Holy Spirit. You talk to other people and you're not praying to them. Spend time communing with the Holy Spirit so He can lead you.
And what is He leading us unto? Notice what David goes on to say in verses 5&6...
THE HONORABLE HOST
Notice that in these verses David is continuing to directly address His Shepherd in this verse like he began to do at the end of verse 4. However, I want you to notice the transition in this Psalm: Now the example of a Shepherd and His sheep is no longer being used. Now, in verses 5&6, he is using the analogy of a person being invited into someone else’s home and being shown great hospitality and honor.
So, these last two verses of the 23rd Psalm show us another part of God’s nature. Not only is He that Good Shepherd who takes care of His sheep; He is that Honorable Host who crowns us with His lovingkindness and tender-mercies.
Yes, He prepares this table before us and makes all things good and ready! Upon entering, He honors us by anointing our head with oil! He fills our cup up to overflowing! Then our response is, “Surely, my host’s goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life! And I will live in His house forever!” Amen! This is living the good life, my friends!
Now this ought to teach us how we should be when we host people into our own homes or into God’s house: Our guests should feel honored, blessed, and made to feel special. This is the way our Heavenly Father operates. Likewise, His children are to imitate Him in being “given to hospitality.”
Now let’s look at the beginning of the next verse in the 23rd Psalm: David says in Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
ACCEPTING THE INVITATION
As we begin looking at this portion of verse 5, there is another Scriptural example of being invited to the Lord’s table that we must consider:
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus used an example to describe how the Lord invites us to His table for a meal and all that were invited began to give excuse one by one as to why they could not attend. This angered the Lord and compelled Him to begin inviting those who were less noble - the poor, the maimed, the lame, etc. (Notice here the reference to the “lame.” This will become important later).
What’s the lesson here? The Lord has prepared this table before us and has invited each of us to come partake, but we must accept the invitation - not having anything or anyone else be more important than attending His supper.
So, just because the Lord has prepared a table does not automatically mean everyone invited will partake of it - not because God is holding back, but because those He invites generally don’t make showing up to that dinner a priority in their lives. Let’s change that! Let’s make eating at the Lord’s table a priority! God is not looking for the able, but for the available. He can and will enable us to do whatever He calls us to.
Just as it was said to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:20 - the Lord is standing at the door of our hearts knocking, desiring for us to open the door, invite Him in, and dine with Him. And this was written to a church, saints! So, evidently even born-again Christians are capable of not experiencing all that the Lord desires for them.
DON’T LEAVE THE PARTY
And what we see here is that all that God has for us does not just include us eating at the Lord’s table; it includes eating “in the presence of our enemies.”
Now David was certainly a man who experienced this truth in his life, amen? The Lord honored him time and time again during his time in King Saul’s presence. Yes, even though Saul was driven by iniquity and constantly persecuted David, the Lord continued to bless David and delivered him from Saul’s hands.
This shows us that our God delights in defending us from our adversaries. But the key to experiencing this is found in doing the same honorable things that David did in the midst of his persecution. He continued to honor the king. He did not take things into his own hands. He let the Lord justify and deliver him. Even when he seemed to have every right, he did not touch the Lord’s anointed.
Now we will find this out more next week, but we are all the Lord’s anointed now. Yes, if you are a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are an anointed king and priest. Therefore, even when one of your brothers and sisters in Christ (who are also loved by God as much as you are) do things that hurt you, you are to respond like David did, letting the Lord defend you. You and I are still to do good to them. We are to pray for them. We are to bless them. Bless and do not curse, knowing this that you were called to inherit a blessing! (1 Peter 3:9)
But what so many Christians do is this: when their brother or sister does something to them, they fight back. They retaliate. They take matters into their own hands. However, in doing so, they get up from the Lord’s table. And what they need to understand is - even if they are successful at avenging themselves, they are missing the meal. Do you know how many of God’s children are missing out on the party at God’s table because they decided to let their enemies spoil their fun? And don’t you know that the devil plants people and circumstances in our paths to distract us from staying on the path with God?
Church, when people - even God’s anointed ones - irritate us, we don’t need to miss the meal God has prepared for us because of someone else. We cannot control how others act, but we can “sho’ nuff” control how we react. Don’t leave the table for someone who decided not to come to the party! Amen?
EATING AT THE KING’S TABLE
Now, as I meditated on this truth about eating at the Lord’s table, I couldn’t help but think of that story in the book of 2nd Samuel that is a beautiful type and shadow of what we have in Christ - the story of a man named Mephibosheth…
Notice in 2 Samuel 4:4 that we have a brief description of this, Jonathan’s young son. And when the news came from Jezreel that both his father and grandfather were killed, his nurse took him up and fled in haste. We are told that this is when he fell and became lame.
Now as we are going to see through this story of David and Mephibosheth, these things are a type and shadow of our relationship with Christ. So, I want to bring to your attention the lesson we can learn from this:
Why did the nurse flee with Mephibosheth after hearing the news of both Saul and Jonathan being killed? It was because it was customary then for one, when taking the throne, to kill all surviving descendants who might ever try to reclaim their family’s throne. Therefore, this nurse assumed that David would do the same. But she obviously didn’t know David, did she? She was completely unaware that he was different from others. Yes, David was kind. He was noble. He was gracious. But she didn’t know Him to be this way.
Do you reckon that there are many of God’s children out there today who are, likewise, unaware of how good, gracious and kind our Lord is? It is sad, but a good portion of God’s church do not truly know their God’s true nature. Just as this woman assumed David was like any other man, likewise Christ’s bride assumes their God is like any other god (i.e. quick to judge, harsh, condemning, critical, etc.)
So, this misconception of David caused her to do what? To take Mephibosheth up and flee from David’s presence! Likewise, this misconception of God’s true nature has led many Christians when they have missed it and fallen short of His glory to run from Him rather than to Him.
But notice that this response of fear that caused Jonathan’s house to run from David is what caused this accident that left Mephibosheth lame. The same happens to us, my friends. When we run from God in fear, guilt, condemnation, etc. this is when we open ourselves up to falling even further into more permanent spiritual conditions (i.e. spiritual lameness).
WHO IS YOUR GOD?
You see, we attract what we believe. Much of the body of Christ does not realize how our belief system impacts the fruit we receive in our life. And this is particularly true with how we see our God. I am convinced that there is so much more that God desires to do in our lives than we allow Him to. Yes, just as the children of Israel were guilty of limiting God’s will for them in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, we limit God through our wrong thinking and wrong believing.
Let me show you how this bode true for the Egyptians during this instance of the plagues in Exodus:
Did you realize that when these various plagues came upon Egypt that every one of them (save the Death of the Firstborn) were all gods of Egypt? Yes, the Egyptians had a god for everything - for the frogs, the Nile River, the lice, the livestock, etc. So, it was as if God was rubbing it in their face regarding how He is greater than their gods that they served by sending the specific plagues that He did. For instance, it was like He was saying, “You like worshipping these frogs? Then here, here are all the frogs you can handle!”
You see this in the countries that battle poverty the most. Consider the nations that are the most impoverished. Do you know what they have in common? Idolatry runs more rampant in these nations. In other words, they go beyond just not believing in a particular god; they practice witchcraft and have formed their own gods and practice ungodly behaviors. Yes, just as Egypt did in Exodus, these idolatrous nations today are in essence reaping the fruit of the gods that they believed in and served. Likewise, much of God’s church today reaps the fruit of the God that they see themselves serving. Did you hear that? Hear the word of the Lord: You get the fruit of the God you believe in and see yourself serving.
We have a powerful proverb that teaches us a similar lesson: Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion!”
You see, we are not wicked anymore. If you are a born again, child of God, your nature has been changed and you are not a sinner any longer. Sure, you can still sin after you have been saved, and likely you will. But that does not change your nature. However, notice it is the wicked who flees when no one pursues. And this is exactly what sin consciousness will do in our lives: When we see ourselves as “wicked” - that is, when we are conscious of all of our faults, weaknesses, mistakes and shortcomings - we will flee when no pursues. That means that we will run from God when He is not out to get us. This happened in the Garden after the first sin of man and it is still happening today when God’s children sin. We sin, and instead of running to God (like we should), we run from Him thinking He is pursuing us to punish us. But the truth is that God is pursuing you when you sin, but not to punish you; He is pursuing you to restore, redeem, and reconcile you!
So, the wicked - or the one who thinks he or she is wicked - will flee when no one pursues. This describes far too many Christians. They are running from the righteousness of God because they have an incorrect view of God and of themselves. But, again, God is not pursuing to punish; He is pursuing to pour out His protection and provision.
Do you see the perverted thinking much of the church has adopted? We think we are being pursued! We think God is out to get us. No, church, God is for us, so who can be against us! This is what we should be believing!
But notice the second half of this verse: “But the righteous are bold as a lion.”
This is the truth we need to displace that lie with! The devil just walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, yet we see him as the big, bad lion. But we are the righteousness of God in Christ, and we need to see ourselves as that big, bad lion! Why? Because we are in the Lion of Judah! We are the ones who are hid in the King of the Jungle! Therefore, we should be the bold, confident ones! We should be the ones that are walking about boldly like lions, seeking which works of darkness that we can devour- not the reversal! Hallelujah!
Friends, understanding our righteous position in Christ will produce boldness and confidence! Having our state of justification revealed to us will produce the full assurance of faith in our hearts! Hallelujah! We are to be playing the part of the lion; not the devil! We are to be the ones on the hunt; not him! We are the ones with the authority! We are the ones with the position! We are the ones with the name above all names! We ARE the righteousness of God in Christ!
So, stop fleeing like the wicked and start pursuing like the righteous! Be bold and be confident! God is on your side!
CONTINUE EATING AT THE KING’S TABLE
Now let’s go back over to the Book of 2nd Samuel and look at 2 Samuel chapter 9… In this chapter, we get to see what happened with Mephibosheth later in his life:
Chapter nine begins with David saying, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (verse one)
Notice, here in verse one, that David said that he was going to show this kindness for Jonathan’s sake. Here, we see a beautiful type and shadow of how God shows us the same “covenant faithfulness” for Jesus’ sake. Amen! In other words, all the goodness, grace and mercy of God that was shown to us was not given to us because of who we are, but because of the Father God’s and the Son of God’s relationship. Amen!
Then notice in verse three that David said that his desire was not just to show any old kindness, but “the kindness of God.” You see, there is a big difference between “our kindness” and “God’s kindness.” Our love is oftentimes conditional; His love is unconditional. Our love is oftentimes merited; His love is unmerited. Our love oftentimes fails; His love never fails! Thanks be to God!
Then, in verse seven, I want you to notice several of the same characteristics of the good life of Psalm 23 that are found here:
However, David went on to promise Mephibosheth that he would eat bread at his table continually. The word “continually” comes from the Hebrew word tamid (pronounced “tah-meed”) which means “constantly, always, evermore” but the root word describes continually from an eternal standpoint. So, when you look at this from the perspective of us eating at the Lord’s table, we are invited to eat from this table today in the presence of our enemies, but we will continue to partake of it all the way to the marriage supper of the Lamb and forevermore. That’s a lot of food, amen?
Then notice in verse eight, Mephibosheth’s response to this good news: He said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”
So, what we see here is this man had a serious identity problem. To refer to oneself as a “dead dog” means that they see themselves as having no value. This could have been because of what happened to his father’s house, but it also likely had to do with his lameness. You see, sometimes the things that have happened to us in life can warp our sense of value. But what we should be encouraged by here is that it did not change the king’s perspective of him. You see, we tend to think of ourselves as having little to no value and are unworthy, but to God, we are extremely precious and have been made worthy through our “Jonathan”- our Good, Heavenly Father.
Finally, in verse thirteen, we are told, “for he ate continually at the king’s table.” This is the fourth time in this chapter that Mephibosheth eating at David’s table is mentioned. Biblically, the number “four” describes “totality.”
Therefore, this table has be “totally” prepared for us! It is a done deal! All things have been made ready and complete! Now it is just up to us to come partake! Amen.
Notice that this beautiful story ends with the phrase, “And he was lame in both his feet.” Now the awesome thing about this whole story of kindness and mercy is that when Mephibosheth sat at David’s table, his lameness was covered. It was hidden. When eating at the table of the Lord there is no sign or indication of our weakness. We are on equal “footing” with Him. Amen!
So, in conclusion, if we continue to read in the Book of 2nd Samuel, we come to David’s gross sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.
Under the old covenant, when people were judged much quicker and far more severe than King David was for his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, what was it about David that caused him to reap unusual kindness and mercy from God? Our quick answer might be, "Well, God favored David." But I believe there were tendencies and characteristics in David that caused David to obtain this unusual favor. In other words, and more specifically, there were things that David sowed that caused him to reap like he did.
If you consider the chapters preceding David's big sin in the Book of 2nd Samuel (which occurred in chapters 11-12), you will see that he was sowing kindness and mercy into people like Mephibosheth and even Hanun (see 2 Sam chapter ten).
So, do you think it is any coincidence that David, the man after God's own heart, reaped unusual mercy right after he was sowing unusual mercy? I think not! Be merciful, my friends! Show God’s kindness to those around you! This is one sure fire way to partake of all that the Lord has prepared for us at His table. Amen!