Have you ever had stomach cramps? You know – the kind that doubles you over with pain? It’s not a pleasant experience, is it? Well, that’s when you really need to thank the Lord for Gas-X or Di-Gel or Alka Selzer. Oh, what a relief it is!
In the 23rd Psalm we are told that the Shepherd “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” In other words, right in the midst of things that could hurt us, He makes provision for our need.
The word for “enemies” is actually the participle form of a Hebrew verb that means “to bind; to press in; to enclose or compress.” Literally it means – “to cramp,” as when you’re bound up with pain. It’s the idea of an enemy laying siege to your property – enclosing you, and pressing you in, so that you’re cramped and limited in what you can do.
Phillip Keller illustrates this situation by saying, “Another task the attentive shepherd takes on in the summer is to keep an eye out for predators. He will look for signs and spoor of wolves, coyotes, cougars and bears… Often what actually happens is that these crafty ones are up on the rimrock watching every movement the sheep make, hoping for a chance to make a swift, sneaking attack… Only the alertness of the sheepman who tends his flock on the tableland in full view of possible enemies can prevent them from falling prey to attack.”
Now our Lord watches over us in the midst of our enemies. There are a lot of things out there to hurt you and cramp you in. There are not only the natural dangers, but we also face spiritual dangers. Satan is a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour. Jesus warned that there would be spiritual wolves among the flocks. Yet, as we depend upon the Lord, our Shepherd, we are surrounded by His protection.
“He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.”
Say – Don’t go wandering off now! The enemy loves stragglers!