You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.Psalm 23:5-6
In verses 5 and 6 David changes the metaphor a bit--from the good shepherd to the gracious host. Jehovah spreads a sumptuous meal before him, a great banquet, in the presence of his enemies. This figure encompasses all the figures David has used before. That God feeds and provides, leads and protects, is all bound up in this symbol of a gracious host.
Interestingly enough, this figure grows right out of the historical situation in which David wrote. When David was driven into the wilderness by his son's rebellion, he found himself out in the desert, hungry and weary, his army in disarray. As recorded in 2 Samuel 17, three men who were not even Israelites, Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai
brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows' milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, 'The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert'(2 Samuel 17:28-29).
David saw in this that God, as a gracious host, was preparing a table before him in the presence of his enemies. Paul said it this way:
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
A final note is that the word follow in verse 6 literally means
pursue. David says that God's goodness and mercy shall pursue him, in contrast to his enemies' pursuit to dethrone and destroy him. David's desire was to go back to the tabernacle and to worship there. God's mercy and kindness ought to evoke the same response from us. We worship not in a tabernacle, but, as Jesus said,
in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We worship in the inner man, where God dwells. When we see that the Good Shepherd does feed us and does lead us and does protect us, our response ought to be worship--a recognition of all that Jehovah is, a word of thanks for what He has done, and the statement,
Here is more of myself for You to put to Your intended purpose. That is true worship.
Father, You are the Good Shepherd. You are utterly trustworthy. You feed me, lead me, guard me, and protect me. I surrender myself to You in grateful worship.
God offers to treat us as guests at His table! He lavishes His love on us sinners. Are we resisting that astounding love, and failing to worship Him with our lives?