Thou preparest a feast in the presence of mine enemies….

To call individuals ‘enemies’ may be too strong a word, but there are certain people with whom one fails to connect and with whom conflict, outright or beneath the surface, exists. I have had an interesting experience lately. For some reason, I have had information become known to me in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources about some people with whom I have found myself in conflict at times. Yesterday I realized somewhat suddenly that having useful information about one’s enemies presents an interesting dilemma. What does one do when one comes to have information that could be useful in turning back some of what she has perceived as antagonism, aggression, or lack of regard by another?
There have been times in my life when having such information would have been a source of delight, a “one up on you” kind of feeling, an “I’ve got you now” advantage to be played. But yesterday the Lord spoke to my heart about misuse of such information by recalling to my mind this phrase from the 23rd Psalm, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…..” The “I’ve got you now” feeling was a little like sitting before a banquet table in front of this enemy with “choice dainties”, or delicacies, awaiting my consumption and having the security of knowing they couldn’t snatch them from me or keep me from indulging my appetite.
Psalm 141:3-4 says “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips! Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company of men who work iniquity; and let me not eat of their dainties.” Proverbs 23:1-3 says, “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you; and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.”
I realized that the Lord may, indeed, have set a table for me with tempting morsels that could feed my fleshly appetite to exact revenge and turn the table on those who have sought to undermine or hurt me, who might have cast aspersions or attributed ill intent to me when in fact it was in their own hearts. But at the same time He has as told me to exercise self control, to “fast”. To let the tasty morsels lie untouched.
I recall times in the past when I have failed in this. I have used “dainty morsels” against those whom I perceived as ‘enemies’ and felt little or no remorse when busying myself with such deeds. I may have even delighted in it, subconsciously or consciously thinking, “He’s getting what he deserves”, in other words, putting myself in God’s role as judge, jury, and executioner. Having seen the correlation to that and the Lord’s challenge before me to sit at the table without doing so, I don’t think I’ll have the ease of conscience to indulge that appetite again. Fasting has a new meaning for me. Spiritual fasting is refraining from indulging an appetite for gossip, revenge, or attempting to build alliances by running down someone else, etc. I trust that, with Christ’s help, I will have learned to resist such temptation. It may not be exactly “loving my enemies”, but it’s a start. It does give me another glimpse into the character of Christ to realize that He knew what was at work in the hearts of those around Him and yet He stayed at the table and did not indulge a fleshly appetite to protect Himself, coerce them to change, or avoid the consequences that were set in place by their evil. He knew the real source of what was occurring in their hearts. Knowing that these individuals were being used by satan removed the personal nature of their attacks on Him and he was able to say, with the greatest of magnanimity, “Forgive, them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Now that’s an appetite to pursue.