"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." - Psalm 23:5, KJV
Thousands of years ago, in the world's most beloved psalm, the people were told that one day God would spread a table before them in the presence of their enemies. What does it mean?
Does it mean that I get my table, but my enemies don't get a table, because they're starving? Does it mean that I get my table and they get their own table, but my enemies' food tastes terrible? Do we both get a table but at mine, the food is just a little bit better than theirs, and my enemies spend eternity feeling jealous?
"A table spread in the presence of mine enemies." What does that look like? Maybe they're eating with us. It doesn't say.
Bread for the World reports that today 925 million people are hungry. The world is facing a global hunger crisis unlike anything it has seen in more than 50 years. The earth's bounty is not shared equally. Some tables are lavishly spread while others are bare. But is it a hunger crisis or a poverty crisis? Have we made the poor and the hungry our enemies, in order to justify consuming more than our fair share?
For the ancient Israelites, there were different enemies at different times in history. At some point, they had enemies that were other more powerful nations. At times, they had enemies who were people who shared the same land as them, but were from someplace different. They had their geopolitical conflicts and their street violence. As we do, on this Memorial Day, they remembered those who had died in battle. They faced terrorism. They wanted revenge. They had enemies. And yet, the divine promise was not the destruction of their enemies, but rather that they would have a table, the enemies would be there and, somehow, there would be enough.
Prayer of Confession
Creator God, you have made enough for everybody. Forgive us when we take more than we need. Forgive us when we make enemies of those who want some of what we have. And comfort those who grieve on this day of remembrance with a vision of peace.
Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough, has a chapter in the upcoming anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. Follow her on twitter @lillianfdaniel.