A phrase from an old song often flows through my mind, “He’ll go with me through the valley.” At three o’clock one morning when sleep eluded me, the melody led me to consider my own valley experiences. I thanked God that he had been with me throughout every one of those troubling times.
Amid my prayers of thanksgiving, I remembered the valley mentioned in the twenty-third Psalm. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” My mind pictured a long banquet table filled with the finest china, candelabra and silver. Huge platters overflowed with food. Since this feast was prepared by God, I wondered what might be on the menu.
Would the dishes resemble the fruit of the spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control? What other tasty dishes might He serve? In the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. . ..” Since our righteousness resembles “filthy rags,” no one would find that eatable. Jesus had to be speaking of his own righteousness.
“This is the Feast of Victory for our God, for the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign. . ..” Another song–Victory for the Lamb! At the last meal with his disciples before he became the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” Jesus gave bread to them and said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” He gave them the cup and said, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
The table groans under the weight of all God has for us. Jesus said, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” Spiritual, sustaining delicacies beyond our imaginations. Everyday, Jesus sits at the table and welcomes us to join him.
But, King David also described the table surrounded by his enemies. Who are our enemies? We know they aren’t those people who make us want to grind our teeth, because Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 6 that our struggles are not against “flesh and blood.” If not human, then who?
Galatians 6 gives an extensive list of enemies who might be hovering over the table, trying to keep us from enjoying the pleasures we find in God. Here are a few examples:
- Unbelief tells us God isn’t real; his promises aren’t true.
- Shame reminds us of past sins; some that were committed against us, some of our own making.
- Pride insists that we don’t need God’s help; we can rely on our own strength, wisdom and understanding.
- Discouragement keeps us wallowing in self-pity and robs our joy. He tells us we aren’t good enough, we’ll never get ahead, we’ll never get well, we’ll never reach our goals.
- Jealousy temps us to compare ourselves with others and causes us to envy what they have.
- Unforgiveness binds us in bitterness, anger and hate.
After the Apostle Paul tells us that our enemies come from the spirit world, he suggests some powerful weapons to use against their fiery darts. We need the whole armor of God in order to stand against such persistent and evil enemies.
- The Belt of truth protects our minds from believing lies about ourselves and others. In today’s society, lies are being spewed from every direction and we need spiritual discernment to know the difference. God’s truth combats the lies of the enemy.
- Breastplate of Righteous–Jesus is our righteousness. When the enemy accuses us, we refer him to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He paid our debt and we are free.
- The Gospel of Peace. Isaiah 53 indicates that Jesus suffered that we might have peace. He brings peace in the middle of our storms. When he walked on earth, he proclaimed a message of reconciliation. He wants us to carry peace to a world of conflict and turmoil. When our enemy comes to steal our confidence we stand on the fact that Jesus is our peace.
- Shield of Faith – to believe God and trust him, no matter the circumstances. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6. A strong faith in God shields us against the enemy of doubt who wants to rob us of our ability to hope in the Lord. Staying in his presence keeps us grounded in that place of trust.
- Helmet of Salvation – The assurance of where we stand with God. We have been adopted into his family and have all the rights of a son or daughter of the King. We have confidence in battle because God fights for those who belong to him.
- Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he quoted Scripture to the enemy and Satan had no defense against God’s Word. Read, meditate and memorize the truths found in the Bible. For every fiery dart of Satan there is a verse to combat him. “I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Ps 119:11)
- Prayer– We pray for ourselves and for others. We pray the prayers that God has placed on our heart. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b) “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Prayer shows our dependence on God. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
Take a look at the table spread before you. Will you accept God’s abundant provision, or will you yield to the voices who disguise themselves as platters of sweet, delicious fruit, tempting you to leave God’s table. Though the foods offered by the world might seem tasty for a season, the platters soon smell of rot, decay and death. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)
In the remainder of that verse, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it in all it’s fullness.” God’s feast brings joy and pleasure, both in this life and in the world to come. His food will sustain you and bring you to His table waiting in heaven. “Come, for all things are now ready.” (Luke 14:17)
Where will you dine today?