“…in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5)
In our reading yesterday we saw that the beginning of this phrase in Psalm 23 is an invitation to dinner…a call to have fellowship with the Master. It is an opportunity to gather around the table. This illustrates a sense of familiarity and warmth. It is an intimate time with the Lord.
Today we see that the Good Shepherd invites you to the table even when your enemies are around. “What? That seems awkward. Who invited them?” As you are seated , you notice that they are there. “Is he going to ask them to leave?” But, He doesn’t. They are present. He will sit with you, eat with you, have fellowship with you and take care of you in the presence of your enemies. Why does David say this? What does this teach us about our shepherd and what does it teach us about our attitude toward our enemies?
First of all our enemies being present brings a whole host of emotions into play. What started as a pleasant dinner with our Shepherd is now uncomfortable. The truth is…we do not like being around our enemies. After all God is supposed to protect us from our enemies. He should at least ask them to leave the room so we can eat in peace.
This is a common situation throughout the Scriptures. When the rebellious prodigal returned the older brother refused to eat with him. When Jesus ate with the tax collectors, the Pharisees refused to attend. It is not uncommon to think that Jesus feels the same about our enemies as we do, but the Scriptures tell us otherwise.
Truth: Jesus loves your enemies just as much as He loves you!
So, first of all, God is helping us to change our attitude towards our enemies. We should love our enemies and loving them means we are okay with them being at the table. Jesus models this love for His enemies from the cross when He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). As people of mercy and grace we must learn to love our enemies.
Secondly, when our enemies are present they are witness to God’s love and care for His children. We are called to live in fellowship with the Lord in the sight of those who do not know Him. We are to shine the light in a dark world. That means, “in the presence” of our enemies! It is a testimony of His mercy and grace available to all those who are separated from Him.
Today, do not wait to come to God’s table. He wants you to come now…even with your enemies present. Don’t worry. Don’t get up and leave. There is something bigger than you going on here. God might just change your attitude toward them as you sit at His table. He might just speak to the heart of the very enemy you want to destroy. Your enemy might just decide to join you at the table and become a beloved child of the King.
Commit yourself to be a testimony of God’s grace, like
Jesus on the cross, so that even those against Him will hear of His