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Wednesday: Unexpected Detour 2 ~ The Surrounded Table — 21 Comments

  1. The average sheep flock size in Australia is 2500 sheep. If you know anything about averages, that means there are quite a few flocks much larger than that. Our flock of 200 sheep in my childhood in New Zealand was minuscule in comparison.

    In Australia, many of these large flocks are in the arid outback and the big problem that they have in these areas is the presence of wild dogs and dingos. Dingos and wild dogs see flocks of sheep as fast food outlets and can maim and kill hundreds of sheep in one night. It is a serious problem. So much so that the government built a dingo proof fence in the late 1800s that stretches from Dalby in Queensland to the Eyre Penninsula in South Australia to keep dingos out of the sheep-raising areas. It is 5600km long, one of the longest man-made structures in the world, and is maintained and patrolled by about 25 people. While only partially successful, the fact that it is still maintained today is an indication of its importance.

    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Ps 23:5 KJV

    Shepherds go to that length to protect their sheep from their enemies, and it provides a little bit of an analogy for the length that God goes to protect us.

    • The only time that David had his head anointed with oil was when the Prophet Samuel selected him out of all of David's brothers to be the next King of Israel (I guess maybe also when he did become King of israel after King Saul's death.) Yet, David had to be a warrior and flee from that current King of Israel and play "insane" at times and even until after that king was put out of the way in battle etc. Yes, David's anointing with oil is like our symbolic anointing when we accept Jesus to be our leader etc. and etc.

  2. The company I am working for is squeezed into a financial corner that seems so impossible to come out. It is my enemy as a head. It is my enemy for now. I trust in the anointing that I am special and Jesus would not let me be in that corner. I am ready to sit with him and dine with Him and be happy and not to think of this challenge because I have total faith in his presence. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" - why worry! This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Amen

    • Dear Robert,
      I pray that God will indeed make a way where there seems to be no way. May He enlarge your territory and lead you into paths of righteousness. Blessings.

  3. This study seems to resemble the classic Christian book, Pilgrims Progress.
    The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of theological fiction in English literature.

    I remember seeing a movie version, it was a bit weird !
    Just my opinion.


    • Pilgrim's progress is one of my 6 year old daughter's favorite books. I would say it is an important read for every Christian.

      There have been times I am tempted to sin, but I remember the experiences of Christian, his wife, and others from the story and has helped me stay on the right way.

  4. Growing up, I was shaped by this world. Without being aware of it at the time, I had adopted its attitudes - including wanting my 'enemies' to get what they deserved. Then I was taught that God would give them what they deserved - so I could surrender my desire for revenge to Him and let Him carry out that revenge instead. However, this still preserved my mindset for revenge.

    Relatively more recently, God has been changing my heart so that my desire for revenge has dissolved (Romans 12:2; Psalm 51:10). Matthew 5:44 has now become my experience. I no longer want to see people have additional pain and suffering imposed upon them - regardless of what they have done. Don't get me wrong. Yes, I definitely want the bad stuff that people with hardened, maleficent hearts do to stop. But I now want the least pain and suffering it will take for that to happen. My preference for them would be that they would come to repentance and be my restored bother or sister in heaven (as per 2 Peter 3:9). But I also respect their choice that they might want to choose the way of self-destruction. Yet even though many will choose that option, I do not want them to pass off into that self-destruction with even 'an ounce' more pain and suffering than will already be inherent to their own experience at that point in time (eg, Matthew 13:50).

    Yes, I believe God undertakes vengeance via wrath. But I have come to find that God's form or vengeance and wrath are radically different to our human/fallen forms (Isaiah 55:8-9; Hosea 11:9). As Paul unpacks in Romans 1:18,24,26,28 God's version of 'vengeance' and 'wrath' is (ultimately) releasing people to the inherent consequences of their destructive choices (as also per Galatians 6:8). When I consider that God's will/desire is that all come to repentance and not perish (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16; Matthew 23:37), I then realise that releasing people to the self-destruction/annihilation they have chosen is indeed "strange work", a "disturbing task" for God (Isaiah 28:16-21).

    I am not saying you too must believe what I have outlined. This is just what I have learned and believe - and how I have come to believe that.

    • Phil,
      I can relate to your posts. I haven't always made the best and wisest of choices. Subsequently, I have had someone tell me that they prayed for God to have his vengeance on me. This after quoting Romans 12:19. I'm starting to think that says more about them than it does me. I am probably wrong on that though.

      One thing I was looking for in your post was your modus operandi. My curiosity was driven by the fact that I'm on a similar path, so my MO has been Matthew 5:44. I also meditate on Jesus' responses from the Garden of Gethsemane through the crucifixion. Especially his response to the father of forgive them for they know not what they do.

      Like yours, my desire has transitioned from seeking evil revenge to seeking for them if possible to be transformed by the indwelling of the holy spirit. Go from being enemies to being friends in Christ

    • When Hosea's wife left him for others, he didn't go find her and whip her or beat her to death (Hosea 1, 2:5). She chose to leave Hosea. Sinners choose to leave God. God is actively impressing our hearts to return to Him if we are willing, just as Hosea loved his wife and brought her back (Hosea 2:19-23). Also, it is our sins which separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) God doesn't burn us up because He wants to, it is because of the choice we have decided to separate ourselves from Him by our sinning. And since He is the Light, the Life, etc (John 14:6) Sinners are destroying themselves by breaking themselves off. (John 15:4,5).

      Many people have been disgusted by the doctrine of eternal hellfire as punishment for the wicked. I am GLAD we don't have to believe in that. I believe the punishment for the wicked will be appropriate, Revelation 14:10 refers to burning sulfur. May be something like Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24). It is much more comforting to my mind to think of my God as a merciful and kind God who doesn't delight in punishing, but will allow sin to come to its final conclusion.

    • Thanks Myron and Rebecca for contributing to this conversation.

      Myron, when you said "I haven't always made the best and wisest of choices", I was reminded of Romans 7:15-20 and how much your statement has applied to humanity's experience (apart from Jesus) since Genesis 3:6. Hence the comfort from knowing Romans 8:1.

  5. God has been teaching me lessons about how to deal with my enemies. I realised that if I leave my "enemies" to God to "get what they deserve", I may be disappointed if I wait for them to writhe in anguish at God's wrath. God will give them the same thing he has given me - unmerited grace and favour. Only as my character is shaped to be more like Christ will this be something that brings me joy at their redemption and not anger that they get let off. I am still growing. Some injustices seem too painful to be forgiven, but God is still working on me.

    God has had to teach me who the real Enemy of the Soul is and that I should not focus on the people he is using as tools, for my fight is not against flesh and blood.

    God has had to teach me that I too can be used by this same enemy - wasn't Peter rebuked, "Get thee behind me Satan"? Therefore, I should not be so swift to throw stones.

    God has had to teach me patience. He has had to teach me that I can do right, even in the middle of being done wrong. He has provided examples like David who waited for God to act and did not raise his hand against Saul, even when he had the opportunity and many would argue that he was justified. He has provided examples like Joseph who continued to be faithful in whichever situation he was placed in and for however long it took for God to work his way.

    It is a lifelong learning journey, and it continues. But I have a great Teacher who never gives up on me.

    • *"..if I leave my "enemies" to God to "get what they deserve", I may be disappointed if I wait for them to writhe in anguish at God's wrath. God will give them the same thing he has given me - unmerited grace and favour. Only as my character is shaped to be more like Christ will this be something that brings me joy at their redemption and not anger that they get let off. I am still growing. Some injustices seem too painful to be forgiven.."*

    • Jocelyn,
      I am with you on that journey. What God has been and continues to teach me is that if I harbor those types of thoughts and feelings toward others, then my heart wasn't full of his love. The scripture he gave me was 1 John 4:20. When God gave me that verse it was a catalyst in changing my trajectory. I usually resort to praying for God to pour out his love on that person. The satisfying thing for me is afterward instead of feeling bitter or regretting not exacting revenge I experience John 14:27.

    • I love how you mentioned David and Saul. Did you know that after Saul and his sons died, that David wrote a song of remembrance for them and instructed ALL of Israel to learn it (1 Samuel 19-27)?

      If David could write such loving words for Saul, don't you think God's thoughts toward Saul were even more loving in spite of Saul's sins?

      God's love is more than I can understand, but I want to.

  6. Being invited to a special dinner as an honored guest when everyone else calls you a looser is quite amazing and assuring! You hear comments or see behavior by some that indicate your unimportance to them in matters of social inclusion, and here you have the Creator of all that is tell you: 'you are accepted by Him'!
    This is how I understand our heavenly Father’s invitation to sit with him and His heavenly hosts to enjoy the goodness of life according the rules of heaven . . . yes, indeed, “my cup overflows’!

    His assurance given to me that I am on the right path, lead by the right guidance is all that matters to me. This comfort which faith provides is given to all who believe God’s word to be the ultimate Truth and live accordingly. Assurance that we are loved and accepted by the One who made us is the most thrilling confirmation of all humanity's longing for acceptance and inclusion.

    Self-doubt might be the greatest enemy of faith. If we who believe constantly second-guess or doubt the Name – the Identity, who God is and what He represents -, then we will not settle down enough to enjoy His table overflowing with His goodness, mercy and grace; we will find excuses and stay away from His presence.
    Our heavenly Father went to invite to His feast all who would come, going to the highways and byways to tell all He met: “come just as you are”, and I will seat you at My banquet table and anoint your head with oil and wash your feet so you will feel included and accepted; just come!

  7. I heard from a sermon that during David’s time that when officials came the servants would have the cup running over. This meant they were welcomed. After a few days he could tell servants to not overflow the cup. This was to show them it was time to go home. It illustrates how welcomed we are to God. It never stops overflowing.

  8. Bedouin Arab ancient culture provided for the fugitive who had transgressed the law. If he ran out of town into the desert, and saw a campfire and tent, with the pursuing avengers closing in upon him, if he asked for permission to enter the tent it was granted, no questions asked, and the enemy was stopped at the door. The host would assume the responsibility of becoming bodyguard for this fugitive. No one dared to enter the tent without permission. The host would set up a table and make preparation for the best food he had at hand to feed his guest.

    Another interesting note is that the cup of drink was continually refilled by the host for the guest. And if at any time the host wanted the guest to leave, he simply would refill the cup only half full. It was a message that it was time to leave. In contrast, a full and overflowing cup meant that the guest was welcome to stay as long as he wanted because the host was enjoying his company.

    This custom reminds me of the time I was waitstaff at a restaurant. As it neared closing time, if any diners seemed to be lingering while we were trying to close, we would turn up the lights, turn up the music, and sometimes the host would even start vacuuming.

    Prov. 16:7 echoes Ps. 23:5 by saying that the Lord makes the enemies of His own to be at peace with him/her. Pursuers are stayed at the door and can only look on. And we find our cup always overflowing at God's table. How is God showing me that He wants me at His table?

    (You can find more about Bedouin hospitality at https://www.thetorah.com/article/abraham-and-lots-bedouin-style-hospitality.

    "The Bedouin people could be as just as hospitable as they were warring. If a desert traveler touched their tent pole, they were obligated to welcome and invite this guest, along with his entourage and animals for up to three days without any payment...Hospitality (diyafa) is a virtue closely linked to Sharaf. If required, even an enemy must be given shelter and fed for some days. Poverty does not exempt one from one's duties in this regard." (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bedouin)

    "The rules of hospitality occasionally demand the greatest sacrifices from the host and may even oblige him to forgo an otherwise sacred obligation: avenging the murder of a kinsman. The law of entering protection, or dakhala, requires a man to receive into his company and protect anyone who comes and asks for sanctuary,even if the guest might otherwise be a legitimate victim of the host’s blood revenge.The custom of dakhala represents one of the most important mechanisms that tribes use to contain conflict and suppress violence."(https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA604289.pdf)

  9. The best part of the 23rd Psalm to me is at the last, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Goodness and mercy even now and eternal life forever and that even now too in Jesus!

  10. The author of the lesson for Wednesday indicates that in Davids' culture there was "anointing a guests head with oil" etc. Yet there is no scriptural evidence to support this idea at all. Especially the "anointing of the head with oil." I see scriptural evidence of this for a special calling like for a prophet or a King but not for just a guest.

    • Luke 7:46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. This text alludes to the fact that it was a normal Jewish custom to put oil onto the head of a welcomed and distinguished guest.The haughty Pharisees Simon was in fact mildly rebuked by the Saviour for not recognising Him as being important nor distinguished enough for this hospitable treatment.

      Desire of Ages p567
      Simon the host had been influenced by the criticism of Judas upon Mary’s gift, and he was surprised at the conduct of Jesus. His Pharisaic pride was offended. He knew that many of his guests were looking upon Christ with distrust and displeasure... Simon’s coldness and neglect toward the Saviour showed how little he appreciated the mercy he had received. He had thought he honored Jesus by inviting Him to his house. But he now saw himself as he really was.


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