There's no doubt Psalm 23 is loved by people throughout the world; it's long been a source of comfort in bereavement, depression, sickness and sadness, and the go-to text for many a funeral service. Strangely, its images of divine care have the power to console even those who have lost touch with faith. It seems that David’s experience and its aftertaste is an antidote for whatever difficult circumstance reader finds themselves in.
And indeed, the imagery is incredible, calling us in to slow down and reflect.
Green pastures - Quiet Waters - Paths of Righteousness - The Shadow of Death - A Rod and a Staff - A Prepared Table - Anointing Oil - An Overflowing Cup
And that's where I stop a moment - at the picture of the overflowing cup.
Something within me doesn't like the idea at all. For a start, most of us we've have had excessiveness trained out of us. I mean, who among us would we ever sit down with a friend and purposely fill their cup with coffee or tea until it overflowed over onto the coffee table or spilled into a puddle on the carpet? In our minds, that would be a complete accident, a situation that would make both host and guest equally anxious, possibly embarrassed. It's certainly not a scene we'd care to repeat.
And here is where the culture of heaven is so opposite to ours. In the heavenlies, there's always excess; always abundance. In the unseen realm, lack is noticeably absent and lavish is a way of life. There's no 'half-full' or 'nearly full' scenarios in heaven. There, an overflowing cup is not a source of panic - it's a source of delight! And so, David holds out his cup before him. His Host serves him once again, and as usual, the level rises and the liquid sloshes over the rim in a way that is bizarrely gratifying.
It's the overflowing cup, the outpouring of it all, that makes the difference. As David steps back into 'real life', a new dynamic comes into play. David has not simply had his own needs met. He's been refreshed, and his situation has turned around, for sure, but there's something more. He's been in the presence of the Lord, and he's received such a lavish outpouring that there's more than he can contain. He emerges, not just with his need for personal restoration met. Now he's a man with something left to give.
Paul uses this language to communicate the paradox of living and serving out of a heavenly encounter: We are . . .
“sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything”. 1 Cor 6: 10
It is the miraculous nature of the kingdom that weakness turns to a stunning display of strength, where those who are running low themselves end up pouring out of an abundance to those around them. We live in a culture of 'enough and to spare!'
READ THE REST OF THE SERIES!