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Question about Psalm 23

(16 Posts)
Hassled Sun 12-Jul-09 17:30:02

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

What does it mean?
I was watching some travesty of a version of The Lord's My Shepherd on Songs of Praise (Gordon Brown was on it), which led me on to how lovely that piece of writing is, which led me to realising I have no idea what those lines are about. Why a table in the presence of enemies? Anointing - blessing? Cup running over - does it mean "I have everything I need and more"? Or was there originally a more practical meaning?

Bear in mind I'm an agnostic, with sketchy biblical knowledge.

Greensleeves Sun 12-Jul-09 17:31:05

Does it have something to do with the Birthday Table?

Hassled Sun 12-Jul-09 17:34:25

They have a Birthday Table in the Bible shock! Blimey.

Greensleeves Sun 12-Jul-09 17:35:56

Well, not literally [tchoh]

it's a parable, innit grin

the annointing is obviously about children pelting one another with garlic bread

and the cup thing...well there is always one who spills cherryade all over the tablecloth

letsgostrawberrypicking Sun 12-Jul-09 17:47:22

it's a prophecy about Jesus. He was eating and drinking with his enemy (Judas) during what's known as the last supper. God had annointed him at his baptism when the dove came down representing Holy Spirit. Will try and research the cup runneth over bit if you like

MrsBadger Sun 12-Jul-09 17:52:21


'Just when I was surrounded by enemies, when I felt like everyone was out to get me and shite, I was given, through no merit of my own, the offer of a nice sit-down, a rest and refreshment, with someone else exerting themselves for my especial benefit.
In fact they went further than just dinner, they treated me like an absolute king, like it was a privilege to even have me in the house.
Nothing was too much trouble, I couldn;t have asked for anything more - in fact I was utterly content.'

Biblically, to be anointed was a big honour, happened to kings at coronations and high priests at investitures etc.
The running cup was exactly as you say - everything I need and more.

Hassled Sun 12-Jul-09 17:52:53

So is it Jesus speaking, then?

MrsBadger Sun 12-Jul-09 17:53:55

um, I don't think it is a prophecy about Jesus.

The Psalms are hymns of praise, not prophecies like you find in Isaiah etc

David wrote this one about how good God could be to ordinary people, like him.

Hassled Sun 12-Jul-09 17:55:19

Mrs Badger and thank you - it has all become clear. It's like when you think you're Billy No Mates and then your friends throw you a surprise party.

letsgostrawberrypicking Sun 12-Jul-09 18:04:42

Sorry - I should have put an "I think" at the beginning as I always thought it was blush

MrsBadger Sun 12-Jul-09 18:15:31

oh and extra background (for bonus points)

this is from the Old Testament (ie the bit of the bible that Christians and Jews have in commom)

the writer was (probably) David, who famously started out by killing Goliath the giant with a stone and worked his way up to be one of the greatest of the Jewish kings.
The six-pointed 'Star of David' seen on eg the Israeli flag was one of his personal logos.

As a bonus pop-culture reference, he is the David referred to in Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' grin

Hassled Sun 12-Jul-09 19:56:46

I'd never realised the Psalms were Old Testament. I love the "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.." part; it's such a great metaphor. If metaphor's the right word.

morningpaper Sun 12-Jul-09 20:01:59

Ah yes, what MrsBadger said

Cohen's song is very Biblical - lots of Biblical stories in there

Hassled Sun 12-Jul-09 20:08:41

MP - this has made me think about the poster formerly known as The Reverend - do you happen to know if she's OK? Has she had the baby yet?

morningpaper Sun 12-Jul-09 22:00:45

she is still around... baby not due for a while

donnymouse Tue 21-Jul-09 20:03:00

I think that you will find that it was Soloman who started using the star.

This psalm is not about Jesus as 'the Lord is my shepherd'. Jesus is the shepherd and we are the sheep. The psalm is taking about the sheep being led, the sheep being guided by the staff and the rod of the Good shepherd who is Jesus.

If the Lord is truly your shepherd he will bless you in the face of all your enemies and confound them with it, your cup runneth over because of the Joy of the holy spirit that wells up inside you and overflows into the praise of God for what he has done.

This psalm is to comfort those who suffer persecution while following Christ, and to reassure them that as is the way with shepherds in the middle east, they infront of the sheep. Therefore Jesus suffered first, and we are called to suffer for him also. Jesus was raised up to glory infront of all his enemies, as we will be raised up in glory at the return of Jesus and confound all those who persecuted us and scorned our beliefs.

This makes our cup runneth over.


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