“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
Back on Day 3, I raised the possibility that David wrote this psalm when he was on the run from his son, Absalom. (Read more about that in 2 Samuel 15-17.)
Absalom was coming fast and furious with his army of twenty thousand. A spy working for David tipped him off and David crossed the Jordan in a nighttime escape with all his people. They came to a place called Mahanaim and stopped to rest.
The next day, three of David’s friends from Gilead —
Shobi, Makir and Barzillai — showed up.
And were they ever a welcome sight.
“They brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey, curds and sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat.” 2 Samuel 17:28-29
They prepared a table for David in the presence of his enemy.
After you’ve stopped to ponder that for a moment, here are three other thoughts:
David might have stopped at Mahanaim for a good reason. When the patriarch Jacob arrived there, 930 years before David did, angels of God met him and Jacob said, “This is the camp of God!” (Gen. 32:2) Jacob spent the night there, wrestling with the Lord.
Lesson #1: When facing trouble, stop and rest (or wrestle) in the camp of God.
Barzillai’s act of kindness was remembered. “Now Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.” (2 Samuel 19:32)
When David was nearing death, he advised his son, Solomon, “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.” (1 Kings 2:7)
Lesson #2: When someone else is facing trouble, do what you can to ease their pain, no matter how old you are. A kindness can be remembered for generations and may come back around to you.
David’s three friends brought food and bedding for their king, but David recognized it as provision from God.
Lesson #3: When friends help you out in troubling times, be thankful for them. They are the hands of God.