on Psalms 23 :5
Thou preparest a table before me - Here the second allegory begins. A magnificent banquet is provided by a most liberal and benevolent host; who has not only the bounty to feed me, but power to protect me; and, though surrounded by enemies, I sit down to this table with confidence, knowing that I shall feast in perfect security. This may refer to the favor God gave the poor captive Israelites in the sight of the Chaldeans who had grievously treated them for seventy years; and whose king, Cyrus, had not only permitted them now to return to their own land, but had also furnished them with every thing requisite for their passage, and for repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and rebuilding the temple of the Lord, where the sacrifices were offered as usual, and the people of God feasted on them.
Thou anointest my head with oil - Perfumed oil was poured on the heads of distinguished guests, when at the feasts of great personages. The woman in the Gospel, who poured the box of ointment of spikenard on the head of our Lord (see Matthew 26:6, Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:8; Luke 7:46), only acted according to the custom of her own country, which the host, who invited our Lord, had shamefully neglected.
My cup runneth over - Thou hast not only given me abundance of food, but hast filled my cup with the best wine.
on Psalms 23 :5
Thou preparest a table - The image is now changed, though expressing the general idea which is indicated in the first verse of the psalm, "I shall not want." The evidence or proof of this in the previous verses is, that God was a shepherd, and would provide for him as a shepherd does for his flock; the evidence here is that God had provided a table, or a feast, for him in the very presence of his enemies, and had filled his cup with joy. The word "table" here is synonymous with "feast;" and the meaning is, "thou providest for my wants." There "may" be an allusion here to some particular period of the life of the psalmist, when he was in want, and when he perhaps felt an apprehension that he would perish, and when God had unexpectedly provided for his wants; but it is impossible now to determine to what occasion he thus refers. There were numerous occasions in the life of David which would be well represented by this language, "as if" God had provided a meal for him in the very "presence" of his foes, and in spite of them.
Before me - For me. It is spread in my presence, and for me.
In the presence of mine enemies - That is, in spite of them, or so that they could not prevent it. They were compelled to look on and see how God provided for him. It was manifest that this was from God; it was a proof of the divine favor; it furnished an assurance that he who had done this would never leave him to want. The friends of God are made to triumph in the very presence of their foes. Their enemies are compelled to see how He interposes in their behalf, how He provides for them, and how He defends them. Their final triumph in the day of judgment will be in the very presence of all their assembled enemies, for in their very presence He will pronounce the sentence which will make their eternal happiness sure, Matthew 25:31-36.
Thou anointest my head with oil - Margin, as in Hebrew, "makest fat." That is, thou dost pour oil on my head so abundantly that it seems to be made fat with it. The expression indicates abundance. The allusion is to the custom of anointing the head on festival occasions, as an indication of prosperity and rejoicing (see Matthew 6:17, note; Luke 7:46, note), and the whole is indicative of the divine favor, of prosperity, and of joy.
My cup runneth over - It is not merely "full;" it runs over. This, too, indicates abundance; and from the abundance of the favors thus bestowed, the psalmist infers that God would always provide for him, and that He would never leave him to want.
on Psalms 23 :5
23:5 A table - Thou furnishest me with plenty of provisions and comforts. Oil - With aromatic ointments, which were then used at great feasts; thy comforts delight my soul. Runneth over - Thou hast given me a plentiful portions, signified by the cup, given to the guests by the master of the feast.