Summary: David believes God will fill his cup to overflowing. But why would God do that, and what does it mean for us today?
OPEN: There’s a beautiful Gospel hymn I’d like you to sing with me
“Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”
The last section of the 23rd Psalm talks about God filling David’s cup. In fact David’s cup is filled to overflowing.
ILLUS: One commentary says this may have been talking about the kind of hospitality practiced by Bedouins. According to Bedouin law, once a traveler was received into the shepherd’s tent, and especially once his host has spread food before him, he was guaranteed immunity from his enemies. To sit as a guest at the table of such a host was to be assured of food, housing, fellowship and protection. A table that had been prepared was a public announcement that no one was to molest THIS guest. The greater the influence/prestige/power of the host the greater the security. When a guest’s head was anointed with oil - it showed he was highly honored. And when a cup was offered to a special visitor it wasn’t half-full… it would be running over showing the prestige of the guest. (https://bible.org/seriespage/psalm-23-psalm-calms-soul)
Fill my cup Lord! That’s what David boldly saying God would do for him. David had come into the TENT of this great shepherd, and David knew that, once he was there, he’d be provided for and protected.
And that’s a repeated theme in David’s songs. In Psalm 27:5 David wrote “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”
And in Psalm 61:4 he wrote: “Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!”
(PAUSE) Now what’s interesting, is that not everybody thinks about God that way. A famous political pundit named Charles Krauthammer said he didn’t believe in God but: “There was once a philosopher who said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I fear him greatly.’” A committed agnostic, Krauthammer said that this was a thought that was always in the back of his mind.
There’s a fear of God that is almost universal. According to one story I read, certain tribesmen in the Congo regarded one particular idol as their spiritual father. They greatly revered this idol… but they keep it hidden in a deep pit. When missionaries asked why they hid this statue, they cried "If we look on the face of our father, we will die."
ILLUS: There was study published by USA Today a few years back. They found that over 31% of Americans saw God as “Authoritarian.” He’s almost always angry. He wants us to shape up and fly right. But if we don’t – He will punish us.
About 16% of Americans pictured God as “Critical” and “Judgmental.” He’s still unhappy with us, but He has no intention of offering either divine wrath or help.
A 3rd group (over 24%) believed God was “Distant.” He may have created earth, but He didn’t have any intention of getting involved in our lives.
NOW that’s nearly 75% of Americans who believe that God either doesn’t like us, or doesn’t care what happens to us!!!!
Someone once wrote a “23rd Psalm” for those who thought that way: “I have no Shepherd, I constantly want. In discontent, I graze in parched fields; I can find no water to quench my thirst. My soul is weary; I wander in the paths of sinfulness, seeking pleasure. When I walk in the darkness of danger and death, I am afraid; I am all alone. No power or principle gives me comfort. There is no nourishment to strengthen me against my enemies. There is no ointment for head. My life is empty. Even though God's goodness and mercy have been available all the days of my life, I shall be banished from the house of the Lord forever."
But David didn’t think that way. He said “The Lord is my shepherd… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
David’s God CARED for him, and LOVED him, and PROTECTED him.
(PAUSE) But it’s obviously not the way a lot of people think about God. But why? Why do so many people NOT believe in a God that would love and protect them? Well… because folks usually don’t live their lives the way they should. They believe God hates them… because they deserve to be hated by Him. And they also don’t think He’d care to help out in their lives… because they KNOW they DON’T deserve that!