Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Table

The Table

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” – Psalms 23:5

Enemies.  It’s a strong word meaning one who feels hatred toward you, and intends to show hostility and oppress you.  The Bible talks a lot about our enemies but one of the most interesting verses about them is in Psalms 23. 
The Psalmist, speaking of God’s goodness toward, us says that He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  Think dinner with the President, and you’re given the best seat while your enemy gets a fold out table in the corner.  Think Olympic platform, and you win the gold while your enemy doesn’t place.  Think promotion from the department you work in, while those that hate you stay in their current positions.  God prepares a table for you – and your enemy just gets to watch.   

God prepares those tables every day and yet, we can’t seem to walk away from the fact that these are our enemies.  We live bitter with past hurts in our hearts.  We talk about it more than we pray about it.  When we do pray about it, we pray against them instead of for them, and ask God to get vengeance.  And with every day that passes, the grudge in our heart grows so heavy that it soon takes over all the love we had to give. 
An enemy, as I was recently told by my pastor, is put on this earth to bring us trials so we get stronger.  An enemy is like a catalyst to our Christian growth. 

Take the life of Joseph which is told in Genesis, Chapters 30-45.  He was just seventeen years old, the youngest child, and despised by his brothers.  His brothers (enemy one) sold him into slavery.  But God had Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers, to purchase him.  He was trusted, and put over the entire house of Potiphar (table one).  Then Potiphar’s wife (enemy two) decides to accuse Joseph of rape, and at thirty years old he is thrown into prison. But even in prison, God was with him and allowed him to find favor in the prison guard’s sight and the guard put Joseph, a prisoner, in charge (table two).
Then Pharaoh has a dream and needs an interpreter.  His butler knew Joseph and told Pharaoh about how he once interpreted a dream for him. Pharaoh had Joseph brought before him to interpret his dream.  The dream was about seven years of famine that were coming, and at the interpretation of the dream, Joseph had a hand in saving Egypt from the famine as they had time to plan for it.  Pharaoh honored Joseph by making him second in charge of the entire nation of Egypt (table three).

“But wait!” you say.  “Where was enemy three?”  That’s the point.  When we are faithful to God, the scales don’t have to balance.  His blessings are always more than your hurts.  His brothers, the very ones that sold him into slavery, arrive later and ask for food because God has brought them to famine as well.  They end up sitting at a real physical table eating with Joseph – a table God prepared.  And when Joseph reveals to them who he really is, God restored his relationships with his brothers, and his father.
Many times in the story of Joseph, we are told that “God was with Joseph”.  Understanding that God is at work in you when you encounter an enemy frees you from the hatred and bitterness that can enter into your heart and cause that callous of grudge to build like a wall around it. 

God is very clear on what He expects of us when we encounter an enemy.  Matthew 5:44-45 says love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”. 
God doesn’t say go tell all your friends how you’ve been wronged.

God doesn’t say form a small army of your friends to hate your enemy with you.

God doesn’t say ruin the reputation of the enemy, who was clearly in the wrong.

God doesn’t say find a way to get even.

God doesn’t say live in the past and don’t forget how they wronged you.

Love them. Bless them.  Do good things for them.  Pray for them.  Surely if you do these things to an enemy, God must be with you.  When faced with an enemy, would it not be better to have God on your side than the friends you could rally?  Would it not be better to know He is pleased, and is preparing your table in their presence?

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