You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows (Psalm 23:5, esv).
Have you made a few enemies in your lifetime?
The right answer to that question should be, “I hope so.”
Please don’t get me wrong—we don’t enjoy having enemies, and we don’t try to make them. But some people (probably most people) under the guise of being nice, would attest to not having a single enemy in the world. As if that’s a good thing, a noble thing. But honestly, it’s kind of a sad thing, and even an arrogant thing . . . because not even Jesus walked through this life without creating His share of enemies. It should actually be impossible to live as a Christian, to stand up for what’s right, to approach each day with wholehearted conviction, and not ruffle some feathers along the way. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you” (Luke 6:26), Jesus said to people who were willing to say anything to get others to like them. Because when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9), He was not saying, “Blessed are the compromisers.”
But maybe you’re one who does know the icy glare of an enemy. Please understand, I’m not talking about someone you or I have sinned against, or failed and mistreated, or refused to make amends with, or refused to humbly ask for forgiveness. I’m talking about an enemy who resists and opposes you because you do what’s right, and because you’ve taken a stand for what’s true. They’ve chosen to become your enemy by their own stubborn, contrary will. Perhaps it’s even someone very close to you, someone you’ve loved and served and cared for, yet someone who’s turned on you and doesn’t seem to mind wounding you.
These are hard places and people to deal with. And in that painful context of struggle and hurt, you may have started to doubt yourself. Because when enough people send you wrong messages about who you are, you can easily become confused about exactly that: who you are. Maybe a parent or loved one or child or spouse constantly speaks negatively of you (and to you), and you need to get freed from those accusations and hear the one message that really matters.
What matters most is not what your enemies think about you; that one message that matters is what God thinks about you. And if your heart is humbled, if your desire is to honor Him and His Word, if you are trying your best to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), you can be sure of His abundant vindication.
What an incredible statement of identity David made in Psalm 23:5, as if God Himself had walked into a room filled with David’s enemies. In their minds, this was the moment of payback. God had come to wreak His vengeance, right here where they could see it and celebrate it. And yet, David said, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Rather than piling on accusation, God made His approval and encouragement known to His servant.
Your enemies may be screaming about who they say who you are. But only God knows who you really are. Accept His vindication of your life and heart by believing His Word. And let the truth stand alone as the valuation of your identity.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being my shield and defender. Thank You for being my rock of refuge where I can always flee for shelter. Thank You for surrounding me with the truth of Your Word and the encouragement of Your Holy Spirit. Even against hard opposition, keep me anchored in the integrity that comes from living and loving for Your name’s sake. Please show me who You say that I am, until Yours is truly the only voice that matters to me. I ask it in the name above all names, the name of Jesus, amen.