Study Guide

Psalm 23 ("The Lord is My Shepherd") Line 5

By David

Line 5

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

  • Some readers consider lines 5 and 6 to be the second part of the psalm because it's thematically different.
  • The metaphor of the shepherd completely disappears now.
  • The line describes how God lays out a banquet for the speaker, even when his enemies are nearby.
  • What is the role of the enemies, do you think? Has God made peace between the speaker and his enemies, and now they're sitting down for a meal together? Or do the enemies merely symbolize danger, in the presence of which the speaker is still safe and able to enjoy a luxurious banquet?
  • The whole of the poem is highly symbolic and you should not take the individual images too literally. They're open to a wide variety of interpretations.
  • That said, the passage doesn't say anything specific about bringing peace, so the main point seems to be that the speaker feels enough at ease to enjoy himself and have a good time. Also, he doesn't even have to do any of the cooking!
  • "Anointment" is a sacred act of setting a person apart and and making him holy. It is symbolized by rubbing oil on the person.
  • There's so much wine (or insert preferred delicious beverage here) in his cup that the liquid is literally overflowing the cup. God doesn't just provide enough, He provides more than enough.

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