A Place at My Father’s Table
The shepherd’s psalm has been the most memorized and most beloved poetry in the Bible because of the rich metaphor we find there. Being a lover of food myself, I appreciate anything to do with eating. Therefore, I am drawn to the words, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (vs. 5, NIV) I am able to eat in peace even though a wolf, or bear, or lion may be in the vicinity because the shepherd is watchful. This particular phrase is a mixed metaphor because we know that sheep don’t eat from tables. But humans can appreciate the fact that a place at the table has been reserved for them. For us, the one in charge is more than a shepherd. He is the one who has adopted us into his heavenly family.
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16, NIV)
Thinking back to childhood days, I have fond memories of meals with the extended family, but at those larger gatherings with cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents, I was often relegated to the children’s table with the younger cousins. Therefore I missed out on the conversation enjoyed by the adults at the main table. Thankfully, the table at home was just the right size so that I could sit at the same table with my parents and enjoy the status of a full-fledged member of the family. In fact, I remember that generally my father would fix a hot breakfast for me, and he and I would eat together at the table. Though I don’t remember our conversations, I consider that to have been a high point in my day. More recently, I enjoyed role reversal when my daughter’s family lived with us for a while. My one year old grandson would get up and share breakfast with me. Though he could barely talk, we had such pleasant times at the table sharing a hot breakfast together. (He had a fondness for bacon.)
There is something powerful about time spent together at the table. Therefore, I am grateful to know that my Father’s table has a place set exclusively for me, and I am able to dine there regularly at the Father’s invitation.