Summary: A sermon that looks at Psalm 23 verse 5. God has prepared a table before it but we need to come to it in the right way. I have included more than I preached because I thought the extra illustrations would help others.
Ever run a marathon or made a major physical effort?
When you finish a marathon you become desperate for a drink and a meal and indeed while you are running you mind is often going ahead of you that the banquet ahead of you is worth finishing the race for.
I remember once walking about 15 miles on the roads of the North Island one day when I was travelling as a hitch hiker. There was more hiking than hitching I guess on that day. I was very, very, hungry and went into a milk bar and ordered a good old fashioned mince pie and a milkshake. This didn’t quite satisfy me and so I ordered the same again – five times. By the time I was getting into about the fourth pie people were looking through the curtain at the back of the shop to see this apparently unbelievable event. Hard effort and hard times will whet our appetite for a banquet.
Here in psalm 23 I have to say something that is probably pretty obvious.
Verse 5 follows verse 4. And so it proved in King David’s life. David had been a refugee hunted down by the crack troops of King Saul – Normally such a person would be hunted down and killed but David survived and his former persecuters either died or joined in with his army. God literally prepared a banquet for David in the presence of his enemies.
In Ecclesiastes we read 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
In a way, what we are looking at here is a Godly banquet or celebration a time of resting in all that God has done and replenishing oneself for the way ahead.
This morning I would like to look at what is needed to really enjoy the blessings and the abundant times that God wants to bestow upon us.
How to dine well.
Firstly, In order to dine well with God you need to have journeyed well. A great banquet with God will mean that you have journeyed faithfully with him. Thomas Merton said, “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”
In the book of Esther there is a banquet and The King and Queen Esther invite Mordecai and Haman to the banquet – Mordecai has been very faithful to the King and has saved the Kings life when there was a plot against him. Haman had plotted against Mordecai and was determined to have him murdered. At the banquet his evil plot was disclosed and what Haman had been doing ended up in his death. For Mordecai the faithful servant he enjoyed his banquet with the King because of his faithfulness – Haman certainly did not.
For us to enjoy God’s banquet we need to have journeyed well.
To journey well is not just to have an absence of serious sin in our lives it is to have the evidence of God working in what we are working at. We truly need to have been walking in the footsteps of the Master.
An illustration from the life of Sadhu Sundar singh.
A slight incident at Kotgarh, when we were with
him, may be given as an illustration; for it reveals
the source of that inner life which was "hid with
Christ in God."
He got up one night from prayer and was prepar-
ing to go out alone. When questioned why he was
starting out so late at night, he replied that he had
heard the call of someone from the valley below who
was needing his immediate help. Those who were
sleeping by his side implored him to wait until the
early dawn and not to risk the dangers of the forest
throughout the night. But the Sadhu insisted on
starting at that very moment* After a few days'
absence, he returned. The person he had gone to
seek had been very seriously ill and had greatly
needed his assistance.
This sudden call by the Spirit within him, com-
muning with his own spirit during a night of silent
prayer, was in keeping with Sundar Singh's whole life
as a Christian} and his immediate obedience without
fear was of the same character. Such things as these
illuminate with a fullness of new meaning the great
words of the Apostle: "For as many as are led by
The Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
This kind of close connection with God means that when you come to the banqueting stage of your life there is a sense of quiet satisfaction and continuity of your walk with God.
One illustration would be when you have played a hard game of Netball or Rugby.
Afterwards in the dressing sheds there is a special kind of companionship between the players as they have all contributed to the victory.