You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies… Psalm 23:5 a
This verse may conjure up images of sheep sitting around a table akin to the famous “dogs playing poker” picture. That’s not quite the meaning here. Table refers here to a elevated portion of flat land. We may call it a mesa (Spanish for table). The shepherd would bring the sheep to the mesa in the summer months.
Much preparation is involved in feeding sheep. They mustn’t eat certain types of plants. A shepherd would scout them out and remove them when possible. Taking the sheep to the tablelands could also be perilous. As we saw from previous verses the valley was often dark and dangerous. The shepherd fed the sheep despite any of these obstacles.
As shepherds we must take care in the way we feed our sheep. First I think we must make sure that we are properly equipped to teach. Today with some many resources available we are very blessed. Many different ministries give away their sermon materials to whoever wants them. This is obviously helpful but it can also be dangerous. We can fall into the trap of not preaching from our personal walk and just rely on someone else’s messages. We need to teach and preach and lead from the overflow of our own personal devotional life not just a downloaded sermon.
Its also important to watch what our sheep are consuming. Today people can consume so much preaching and teach through various outlets. We can’t simply put certain ministries on blast but I do think we can personally talk to people when we see they are being led by someone with unsound doctrine. That’s why it is important to keep people close to us. We can’t speak into someone’s life if we aren’t vested.
Lastly I think we must carefully craft God’s Word in a way the is palatable. There are many schools of thought on this so I won’t go into the how on this. I would encourage you to have a strategy that works for you in preparation of your messages. Its not enough to just hope they get it. The hearer is responsible for how they hear but we are to do our best to “set the table”.