A generous host

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5(b)

A good dinner party is one which provides ample food and drink. If, as you drive home from an evening at a friend’s house, you find yourself looking for a drive through McDonald’s to grab a burger, or a service station to pick up a drink, you know the evening did not go particularly well. If you leave feeling well fed, and having had enough to drink, you know that it was a great evening; your host has looked after you well. This reflects very well on the relationship between you and your host. If you left hungry and thirsty, the chances are that your host does not really care about you that much!

There’s no chance that you will be left wanting at God’s house, however! He thinks the world of you, and cares for you greatly, and will ensure that he looks after you. At the dinner party described in Psalm 23, the diner’s cup overflows; there is more drink laid on than can possibly be drunk. God provides for all his people, and provides in abundance. This is not a stingy God who holds back blessings from his people, but a generous God who lavishes them upon those who love him.

One of those blessings, which would have had more resonance in the Old Testament, is God’s anointing of his guests. Throughout the Bible, anointing by oil is undertaken to symbolise the purification and healing of those in need of God’s love. It is also used to anoint people for God’s service. The guest at the Lord’s table is, therefore, cleansed and healed, but also marked out for the service of God. This is a mark of the confidence that God puts in us all. Just as the kings of the Old Testament were anointed to confirm their role as servants of the Lord, so we too are annointed as his agents in the world today. He loves us, trusts us, and has given us a special place in his plans for the world.

Today, then, give thanks to God for his generous provision to us all, and ask him to guide you as you seek to honour him for his annointing.

The Lord, our host

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Psalm 23:5(a)

I love dinner parties. I really enjoy being able to relax with friends over a nice meal, and just chill and chat until late. I also enjoy being invited to dinner parties, particularly by people that I have only recently met. It feels like they are extending the hand of friendship to me, and that I have been accepted as a member of their circle. Being asked into the home of a person, and being invited to join them in a dinner party is a real privilege.

In this section of Psalm 23, the picture changes from God as a shepherd looking after his sheep to that of God as a dinner party host. He invites all those who who love him to come and feast from his table. By inviting us to his table, God is extending the hand of friendship out to him, and demonstrating that we have been accepted by him. If it’s an honour to be accepted into the home of a mere mortal, how much of a privilege is it to be invited to the table of God, the almighty creator! Particularly considering all that we have done. If you encountered someone who rejected you, ignored what you said, didn’t want to spend time with you, and had even killed the person that you held most dear, there is no way that you would ask them to dinner. But that is the position that we find ourselves in. Despite the fact that we routinely turn our back on the Lord God, he invites us to his table. Even though mankind killed his son, Jesus Christ, he still prepares us a meal.

On our own merit, there is no way that we could be acceptable to God. Yet because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been given that invitation. It is up to us whether we accept his offer to join him, or whether we simply want to ignore it.

If we accept the offer, perhaps we should think carefully about our behaviour. Do we respect God and treat him as one who is generous and who has invited us into his home? Or do we continue to dishonour him, and hope that he won’t notice?