Daily Devotions

A Special Banquet Table

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"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." (Psalm 23:5)

 

Remember, the psalm is about you and me, but it is also about God's relationship with us. This passage portrays God as a gracious host. The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary points out, "The gracious host does for the guest exactly what the shepherd did for the sheep-provides food and shelter/protection" (vs. 6).

 

The passage helps us understand the character of God. The Hebrew word "hesed" is central. "Hesed" is one of my favorite words. It means, "loving kindness," or "goodness." God's goodness is found in the "table" God has provided for us. The "table" provides food, fellowship, and comfort.

 

Over the past months, the United States and Iran have agreed to a nuclear agreement. We, in some manner, remain "enemies" with Iran. At least we have yet to align our mutual self-interest close enough to call one another colleagues. This lack of alignment is exacerbated by religious extremism. Yet, the U.S. and Iran were still able to sit at "table" and carve out an agreement with an "enemy."

 

Today, pray for our "enemies." Pray for their well-being, but also for the Spirit's power to transform our enemies into colleagues, and, in time, friends. 

Protection from Deepest Darkness

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"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and staff-they comfort me." (Ps. 23:4)

Even though God is with us, there are moments with we may be faced with life-threatening situations. But amidst the fear, God's gifts are sufficient. The life-threatening situation is described in ominous terms. "Shadow," and "deepest darkness,"describe the realm of the dead. The term appears in Job 10:22, "the land of gloom and chaos, where light is like darkness." In this darkness, evil can be found.

Intentionally, the Hebrew root for "evil" is very similar to the root for "my shepherd." According to the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary, "the effect is to pit dramatically the shepherd against the threatening evil." For the book of Isaiah, the "darkest valley" is the exile. Each one of us has a different experience of evil. But all are valid, and all are in need of God's saving presence.

God's saving implement is the "rod" and "staff." These humble tools of the shepherd are more powerful than an earthly king's scepter. The scepter emphasizes the king's power and wealth. The emphasis is on the king. The staff, in comparison, is used to emphasize the people's care, given by a loving God.

When have you experienced a "deep darkness" in your life? How did God's "staff" protect you? Give thanks in prayer today for God's continued watchfulness and care.

en tough I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and staff-they comfort me." (Ps. 23:4)

Even though God is with us, there are moments with we may be faced with life-threatening situations. But amidst the fear, God's gifts are sufficient. The life-threatening situation is described in ominous terms. "Shadow," and "deepest darkness,"describe the realm of the dead. The term appears in Job 10:22, "the land of gloom and chaos, where light is like darkness." In this darkness, evil can be found.

Intentionally, the Hebrew root for "evil" is very similar to the root for "my shepherd." According to the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary, "the effect is to pit dramatically the shepherd against the threatening evil." For the book of Isaiah, the "darkest valley" is the exile. Each one of us has a different experience of evil. But all are valid, and all are in need of God's saving presence.

God's saving implement is the "rod" and "staff." These humble tools of the shepherd are more powerful than an earthly king's scepter. The scepter emphasizes the king's power and wealth. The emphasis is on the king. The staff, in comparison, is used to emphasize the people's care, given by a loving God.

When have you experienced a "deep darkness" in your life? How did God's "staff" protect you? Give thanks in prayer today for God's continued watchfulness and care.

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