“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Explanation and Commentary of Psalm 23:5
This is a powerful image of what it means to walk with God. There is nothing to fear in the “darkest valley” (Ps 23:4). We are the sheep of his pasture. He will protect us, provide for us, give us food, give us shelter, and gently correct us when we go astray.
Our inheritance from the Lord includes his “goodness and mercy” (Ps 23:6). By faith, we walk with the Lord through all the trials of life. Sadly, many Christians struggle with great fear because of their unwillingness to surrender to God their whole lives. We are not able to protect ourselves in the valley of the shadow of death. We are not able to withstand the presence of our enemies on our own. No one ever heard of a lone sheep. And “sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36) are only “harassed and helpless.”
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Psalm 23:5
#1 “You prepare a table before me…”
The image here is striking. God, the Lord of the universe would serve our table. When we surrender our lives to Him, we find him able to provide more than enough for us. He is an abundant provider to those in his household, and his children “never go begging for bread” (Ps 37:25).
#2 “…in the presence of my enemies.”
Again, the image is striking. Imagine yourself at a fine table enjoying a feast. All around are all the demons of hell and the people in your life who hate you the most. And they cannot touch you. You can forget they are there because you are not called to protect yourself. You have a shepherd who has a mighty staff. You can eat in peace. We can walk out God’s purposes for us fearlessly because we fear and love the Chief Shepherd above all things.
#3 “You anoint my head with oil;”
Sheep were anointed by shepherds to keep out deadly bugs. God protects us from the things that would harm us. The image is also a reminder of the anointing oil poured over the head of the Psalmist by Samuel (1 Sam 16:13) to set him apart for the work he had called him to, as king of God’s people. Within Psalm 23 it is a part of the hospitality of God toward his people, setting them apart at his blessed table, fed and protected.
#4 “my cup overflows.”
Not only does God provide what we need. He always gives more. Because our cup overflows, we can be generous like our Father and use what he has given us to be his blessing upon other people.
Bible Study on Psalm 23:5
Expert Overview of Psalms
Biblical Translations of Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.