Episode 040 – Psalm 23 Pt 7: A Generous Host

Key Passage(s): Psalm 23:5

As soon as David mentions “preparing a table,” “anointing with oil,” and “cup overflowing,” we know he’s no longer communicating a shepherding imagery. You don’t do any of these with sheep. So why the shift? And what’s he conveying? This is one of the most fascinating cultural aspects of Psalm 23, and understanding the imagery shift and its implications will help you see your relationship with God and His world in a renewed, compelling, and gratitude-inducing way.

Discussion Questions

  • What’s your biggest takeaway from the teaching?
  • The same God who created the world has invited you into his tent and wants to share time with you. What comes to mind when you hear this? Do you believe this to be true? Why or why not?
  • To share a meal was a sign of acceptance and love. Where do you need to be reminded today that God loves you and accepts you and wants your cup of joy to be overflowing?
  • Are there “enemies” encircling your life right now, seeking to discourage you or perhaps hoping you fail in some way? What comfort do you find knowing God is aware of that and desires to encourage you in the midst of it?
  • Does the way you live express that you trust God or yourself for your provision and protection?
  • Is your walk with God marked with striving and guilt, or joy and celebration? In what areas do you feel like God is calling you to change? What will your first step be?
  • How can you respond in gratitude this week to the astounding truth that God is a generous host?

For Further Study

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  1. Where do you attend church? I live north of Nashville and haven’t settled anywhere. Looking for a place that teaches from Hebraic perspective. Is there such a place?

  2. As you were speaking about the Bedouins and their hospitality it reminded me of when people have guest to their home they use the “best” and take time arranging the table, think about the meal, have dessert or appetizers, clean etc… We want them to feel special and honored. To be invited into someones home is an honor even today. It is fun to see how cultures still have some of the same practices even if it is “westernized”.

    you prepare a table before me-food
    in the presence of my enemies–sheepfold-rest
    you anoint my injured head w-oil
    my cup of well being overfloweth by still waters
    I am at rest and safe.

  4. What a fascinating explanation of the Bedouin practice of generous hosting … and how it shed’s light on the Lord as an even more generous host.

    Thanks for taking us inside a slice of Bedouin culture. I have a more dimensional understanding of the verse—and the Lord—as a result.

    What would be your top one or two sources for understanding other slices of cultural life among 11th-century-B.C. desert dwellers?

    • “Life in Biblical Israel” by Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager is really helpful. And I just received a new book yesterday, “Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts” edited by Jonathan S. Greer, John H. Wilber, and John H. Walton that I can’t wait to dig into.

  5. Hi Brad,
    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the middle east and saw what you are talking about. My husband and I were invited to a hut of a shepherd when we went out to a wadi area looking for a water irrigation source, but because it was the middle of the afternoon and hot, he had us sit on a mat with a canopy over our heads in the heat of the day. He brought out a can of peaches and some dates that were local to Oman. This was in the desert area far from the mainstream populations of Muscat or Seeb. He had been waiting for a special occasion to open that can of peaches, so we felt honored to be those special guests he would do that for. I never thought a can of peaches could mean so much to someone, but when travel meant a camel or donkey and a lot of time, it really was a big deal. He was offering to us the best he had. He was not rich by any means.
    Another time in Oman, I was invited by a group of village ladies to be part of a ladies dinner, where those big pizza pans had heaping mounds of rice and lamb curry on them. We eye-balled our “pizza slice” of rice and curry on that pan and with our hands balled the rice and curry in our hand and ate. There was plenty for all of us, a lot of laughter about husbands and kids (same talk women in the USA would be having- I spoke Arabic at the time). We all got full and no one was “offended” because someone crossed an Imaginable line of food, it all came so natural….it was like a middle eastern woman’s banquet. LOL

  6. P.S. Thank you for your teaching on how the Father is our good shepherd and is generous and provides/protects us. You add so much to this passage, it has a 3D effect. I really appreciate the way you teach.

  7. Thank you for your insight on Psalm 23, especially this part on preparing the table. I have studied this before and believe the deep symbolism contained in these verses.
    What do you think of the Passion Translation?
    I Have come to really enjoy that version, even if this Psalm, but I find it translates away some of the customs and meanings you taught on today. What do you think?

    • Replying to Forrest: I think the Passion Translation gives interesting insights, but I think it is WAY OFF in the commentaries in the,l Book of Revelation, IMHO.

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