In the Presence of My Enemies

Read: Psalm 23

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. (v. 5)

In his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller observes that sheep are such anxious and temperamental creatures that if there is a hint of danger, they cannot rest, sleep, or even eat. The presence of enemies—real or imagined—is enough to prevent life-sustaining practices or provoke life-threatening panic. A skillful shepherd anticipates every potential danger, guiding the flock to safe grazing land. A good shepherd is also armed and prepared to protect the flock against ever-present predators. The one thing that ensures sheep will thrive, even in the presence of enemies, is the sight of the shepherd.

We are anxious people living in anxious times. Our world is full of different dangers and news of threats great or small, real or imagined. A world corrupted by sin and evil leaves us feeling vulnerable. We have enemies too. In Psalm 23, David acknowledges these enemies. But he also affirms that we have a Shepherd who has already accounted for them. The only antidote to our restlessness and anxiety is the reassurance of the Shepherd. Our God stands between us and every threat. He knows all that we fear. He sees all that threatens our physical well-being and spiritual vitality. He promises to provide all we need, not just to survive but to thrive. As Jesus promised, “Do not be anxious about your life . . . Your heavenly Father knows [what] you need” (Matthew 6:25, 32). —Ben Van Arragon

As you pray, find peace in the presence of the Shepherd.

About the Author

Ben Van Arragon is a pastor, husband, and father of two teenage daughters. He has served the First Christian Reformed Church of Detroit since 2008. He writes and produces video teaching on the Bible and Reformed creeds and confessions. His writing for Words of Hope includes series on Jeremiah, Exodus, and Work and Rest.

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