There are times that I prepare my dining table just for its beauty and also when I secretly hope of a spontaneous visit from friends to join us for supper…(though that part rarely happens!) Seeing a beautifully prepared table or setting one, brings about an excitement and strong anticipation of something yet to unfold! I find myself smiling on the inside and out! When I do invite for meals, setting the table is the first thing I do even before creating a menu and cooking. Sometimes I set a table, THEN invite (hoping they’ll come), and then freak out over what to cook! The spontaneity in that excites me even more! Who will the Lord bring?!
My kitchen is rather small and I have created systems to make things run smoothly when entertaining. Having a small space use to bother me or I’d get embarrassed that I would have to set up a separate side table to serve buffet style. I don’t let that stop me anymore because the blessing of sharing a meal and conversation far outweighs my feelings of inadequacy or embarrassment of a small sized (pink 1960’s) kitchen! There once was a period in my life that we didn’t have a dining table – and in stubbornness, refused to purchase something that I wasn’t really crazy about…just to get by. I think we went about 2 years without one! Did I let it stop me? Absolutely not! I would set up card tables, portable four or six foot tables, or some other make shift table that Brian would help me create sometimes using a sheet of plywood and card table chairs. Then I would fashion a dining space that was beautiful and ready for my beloved friends to come and dine…or have a tea party! When friends come to visit, the table is the first place they migrate. It is an important part of fellowship. This past week, I have shared a table with many friends and family as I visited in my home state of Tennessee and attended a family funeral, and again at the wedding feast of another. Knowing that God planted the seed of “banquets and tables” in my heart a few weeks ago to write about, I was even more cognizant of the subject. As I share my thoughts with you about this subject, it is my prayer that that God will open your eyes to many other wondrous insights of His character, His Word, and His fellowship with you as a chosen attendee of His table!
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
The word fear denotes a type of reverential fear, realizing and trusting Him as the Holy Lord of all. There is a wealth of inspiration and encouragement in these 3 simple verses. The angel of the Lord…the one whom the Lord chose…your personal one…encamps (Hebrew meaning: bends down, settles) continuously…around you. You will surely face and experience trouble because the Word says you will be delivered! Here is my favorite part: Oh, taste (perceive) and see (access): to actively become aware and approach His goodness. Using a Strong’s Concordance on these words will help open your mind and heart to a deeper meaning. I like that verse 8 and 9 begins with the word “Oh!” This word is used to express a variety of emotions. When we choose to take refuge (a shelter; place to abide) in Him, we are blessed. We have no lack (no want of anything…for He provides all we need!)
As this idea of tasting, feast, fellowship, tables, and banquets has inundated my mind. I began to read and study scripture to see what God desired for me to learn. Honestly, I couldn’t find too much information other than the different feasts and the Wedding banquet in Revelation. This was not where I felt the Holy Spirit leading me. He seemed to direct me into a much more intimate and simple devotion pertaining to “fellowshipping” with Him and the individual banquet just the two of us share! The following words are what I feel He spoke to me. They are written with the hope of inspiring you to survey your own fellowship with the Lord.
These are some of the Scripture verses I pored over:
"He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:4
As a child, I actually learned this scripture verse as a song, replacing the word hall with table; but when I went to the Bible to reference it, I realized it was actually a banquet hall! With my research, I discovered that the banquet hall was actually a “wine house” and a place where festivities took place. This scripture is typically referenced to the Wedding feast and to Solomon and Bride – a metaphor of Christ and the Church.
Humm? Just thinking… Jesus gave the parable of the wine and wineskins in Matthew 9:17 comparing the natural sinful man with the transformed, renewed man; and at the last supper, Jesus took the cup and instructed them to drink. This wine represented His blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin. Matt. 26:28 By coming into His banquet hall (wine house) we partake of His life giving blood and are encompassed (covered over) by His banner (military standard/flag/protection/identification) of love. A beautiful beginning of a sweet fellowship of love and protection.
1 Corin. 11: 17-34
Most of us have learned that the Lord’s Table is much like John Piper states:
1) A proclamation of the gospel
2) The remembrance of Christ
3) The feasting on that entire God is for us in Jesus
4) The savoring of the new covenant promises
5) The call to love
6) The call to examine ourselves
In my study of John 13, Jesus shared a table with his beloved friends…His disciples. It wasn’t so much about the food that night as it was about intimate friendships. This was his last account of their time together before His crucifixion. Jesus served them by washing their feet, spending time encouraging their hearts and answering their questions. He challenged them and warned them of things to come, He comforted them and assured them by the promise of His Father, and then they prayed together. What a wonderful example Jesus set for us when we fellowship together over a meal…especially with our most intimate of friends! Do you serve, encourage, admonish, comfort, and pray together when gathering with friends? Or do you simply “shoot the bull” and waste precious opportunities of real ministry?
“Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15,16
The table that Jesus prepares runs deeper than setting a pretty table or pulling out the best dishes. His table is about approaching…spending time or resting…conversing…sharing…provision…encouragement…feasting (becoming full)…refuge…sustenance…only to name a few!
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows."
After recalling this verse, that I have studied time and time again, I realized that I skimmed over the first part of it. Many questions began to run through my mind.
- Why would God prepare a table?
- What is the significance?
- When and why is a table needed?
- Why does he do it when the enemy is present?
- What IS this table?
- Why is it paired with anointing my head and an overflowing cup?
The Hebrew word for prepare is : עָרַךְ arak – meaning to arrange or set in order; draw up battle lines. God is doing more here than preparing a meal to be eaten. He is setting up things in order, creating battle lines, ordaining something special and uniquely for us. He is laying things out, arranging and control is under God’s authority. Preparing is a very intentional thing. God’s preparation is active, intentional and personal. God is doing this prep for me! He is setting up this appointment.
What is the table? The table is a spread, feast, meal, and provision. The scripture is not talking about a physical type of table here, but a table of provisions to grasp, enjoy or take part of. He prepares a feast… lavishly! These provisions are right in the midst of the trouble at hand and in front of the enemy. This spread is one of variety. It could be peace, hope, comfort, rest, guidance, encouragement; anything that God prepares to fill you with sustenance, a source of spiritual strength and nourishment. God’s table is full with all that you need. He serves it right there…right in front of your enemy.
What is the enemy? The enemy in Hebrew (tsarar) is distress, privation, cramped, to bind, narrow, be restricted, afflicted, tied up, anguish. The enemy is much more than the adversary, Satan. It is something that happens each day of our lives. Are you walking through a place in your Christian life right now that seems narrow, restricted, or cramped? Perhaps you feel as though your hands are tied. Maybe distress surrounds you or you are afflicted in some way. It is right here, at this place, that the Lord has a table prepared for you. A giant feast! Abundant! This table contains platters of variety. He has prepared it for you and all you need to do is to approach it, sit down (rest), and partake. This is a perfect provision that has been created just for you. You cannot experience or taste the goodness of God until you sit at His table!
"You have anointed my head with oil – my cup overflows!"
A shepherd uses a salve or balm of oil on the head of his lambs to protect wounds and help heal. As we look at a shepherd’s viewpoint of this scripture, this is what we are taught. How about a shift in your paradigm? This is another view I have thought about. Have you ever noticed the demeanor of someone, one who leans heavily on the Father, when going through a stressful time or during a period of distress or illness? They often seem to be at peace! Their face is lifted and a certain calm engulfs them. An aura or glow permeates them. They have spent time feasting on the goodness of God’s provision! He has anointed their wounds with oil. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit and anoints means to consecrate, smear or rub over, or paint. God anoints the head with oil. I have met believers that I knew were anointed by God. There seems to be something a little different about them. When people meet and fellowship with God, a physical change takes place. Something happens to their countenance! I believe that evidence from sitting at the Lord’s table, in the presence of the enemy, can be seen. People are always watching to see how you will respond or react in the face of terrible situations. He will anoint your head with oil. He will heal your pain and set you apart so that others will know that God has given you sustenance, strength. It's purpose is to bring glory to God.
Your cup will run over! When something is saturated, that means there is abundance and overflow. When I eat until I am full, what I am really saying is that there isn’t any more room for another bite! I am no longer empty and not lacking. God provides all we need and we have no fear of want. The cup refers to a chalice, a large cup for drinking wine as in the Lord’s Supper. We have all we need in Christ when we partake of Him, full and overflowing!
The invitation has been sent and preparations made.
You are the chosen attendee!
Don’t be satisfied by going through the drive inn window! The food obtained there is fast and doesn’t hold you very long…needless to say, not much variety or tasty. Coming to the table of the Lord is rich with lasting memories of what is served. It is a time of rest, encouragement, conversation, and substance. You will walk away with your wounds on the way to healing, an unexplainable aura, and your heart overflowing!
There is so much more to share with you about banquets, foods, and feasts. This is only a “taste” of what God has in store as we study His word and open our mind and heart to a personal message from Him.
If you have never experienced "sitting down at the table" with with Lord, I invite you to do that now. His fellowship is sweet! He longs to meet with you. He is knocking at the door of your heart now!
"How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Joining at His Table,
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