“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;” Psalm 23:5a
Throughout Psalm 23, we notice a recurring theme – the Lord’s provision and protection through the changes and challenges of life. Like David, you may have followed the Lord to your own green pastures and through more than one dark valley. At times, it may even seem as if following the Lord is a strenuous climb. But just as sheep cannot continue grazing in the same field, we cannot grow spiritually unless we follow when the Lord leads us higher. In today’s verse, we see the Lord’s provision and protection on the mountaintop.
When in hill country, shepherds look for flat terrain where sheep can graze and rest. These high plateaus are known as tablelands. In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller says, “So it may be seen that what David referred to as a table was actually the entire high summer range.” In order to reach these lush meadows, sheep must follow their shepherd into the hills. But it’s worth the climb! You see, the shepherd has already been there to prepare the spot especially for his flock. As they graze and rest, He stands ready to protect them from attack.
Likewise, reaching a higher plane with the Lord requires effort. As believers, we know that time in prayer and in God’s Word are vital. Yet, we often approach these spiritual disciplines as mere tasks to perform. When we fail to prioritize prayer and Bible study, we miss the mountaintop experience prepared for us. Time on the mountaintop is invaluable. As the Holy Spirit guides us to deep truths, the Lord provides the spiritual nourishment we need to walk through the next valley.
We also have to keep in mind that as long as we’re alive on the earth, we’re living in enemy territory (Ephesians 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8). Our adversary, the devil, seeks to distract our focus, to discourage our faith, and to destroy our testimony. But our Shepherd is keeping watch, and He knows the enemy’s strategies better than anyone. The Lord protects our hearts and minds through the wisdom of His Word and through the power of prayer.
Look back at the peaks and valleys of your life. Do you recognize the Lord’s provision and protection? How has your faith grown through each change and challenge? Remember, the abundance of the tableland meadow is the result of faithfully following the Shepherd. So, keep following. It’s worth the climb!