Psalm 23

What's in the Cup?


'. . . my cup overflows'

PSALM 23:5


So David, the warrior king, lifts his cup right there on the battlefield. He's recognised the presence of the Lord, he's stepped into a place of rest and refreshment, and it's not bothering him a bit that the Host of this whole other-worldly picnic, who simply offered to refill his cup, now stands before him and continues to pour, despite the obvious - his cup has now overflowed, and whatever's in the pitcher is now spilling all around him.

What is it, I wonder, that is so plentiful in the heavenlies, so abundant, perhaps, in its supply, that it can be poured out without any thought for waste or excess? My mind goes to New Testament 'excessive language': peace that passes understandingjoy unspeakable and full of glorylove that passes knowledge. The peace I find there can't be understood in light of my circumstances. The joy available to me cannot be explained in terms of natural cause and effect. I can never fathom with human knowledge the love that comes to me straight from my Father's heart. Something incredible is going on. It's as if an everyday serve of love, joy and peace is insufficient for people who dwell with Christ. Paul's doing away with any hint of 'I'm doing okay, under the circumstances' response; in its place he hints that there's more on offer - and in so doing he's decoupling us from being subject to the stresses and demands of the here and now.

It’s as if an everyday serve of love, joy and peace is insufficient for people who dwell with Christ

We don't have to try too hard to imagine a set of circumstances that leave us without any physical way to feel love. We know that the need we feel in that void of love can drive us to do things that are uncharacteristic, destructive and regrettable. And in the end, it rarely accomplishes much and the loneliness and isolation close in anyway.

But as it turns out, Heaven's resources are not limited by what is happening around us. Every spiritual blessing in Christ is is on offer regardless of how our week is panning out.

We are not dependent on the level of affirmation that we are receiving or how we are treated. We can enter in and go straight to the true source of love, joy or peace . . . and come out a living paradox. Our overflowing cup means that those around us will feel will feel the effects of what we have experienced. We have enough for ourselves, and also for others. Incredibly, the flow of things is always from the Heavens to the Earth. Eventually, this kind of lifestyle will bend our circumstances so they line up with the heavenly reality we are living out.

Love is difficult to manufacture here. Peace can be even more difficult at times. Joy is perhaps the most elusive thing on Earth. But for us, they are not far away. They are readily accessible in abundant quantities . . . according to his riches in Christ Jesus . . . He is lavishing on us . . . every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. 



Interludes that Ensure Success (Psalm 23 Series Pt 1)

The Overflowing Cup (Psalm 23 Series Pt 2)

He Leads the out (Psalm 23 Pt 4)


The Realm that Has No Need Of Austerity Measures (a Psalm 23 Reflection by Anya McKee)

The Overflowing Cup

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.

By and large, we’ve had the excessiveness trained out of us.

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. 

We live in a culture of ‘enough and to spare.’
— Torn Curtain Living

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!'



Interludes that Ensure Success (Psalm 23 Series Pt 1)

What's in the Cup? (Psalm 23 Series Pt 3)

He Leads them out (Psalm 23 Pt 4)


The Realm that Has No Need Of Austerity Measures (a Psalm 23 Reflection by Anya McKee)