A table in the presence of thine enemies: forgiveness or threat?

cup-of-hope“Thou preparest a table in the presence of thine enemies.” —Psalm 23:5

The challenging, troublesome, dangerous thing about the Bible, or any faith-related book, is the different ways readers interpret the passages. The quote above is from the famous 23rd Psalm, a touchstone passage for many.

For me, the line above signifies forgiveness and peace. It says: “You might be in conflict now, but someday you will resolve the issues, you will forgive, and you will eat together in peace.

Lovely, right?

Then someone went and ruined it for me. A man who I will call a Negative Nellie if it’s possible for a man to be such a thing, said, “Oh, no. That passage is about revenge. It says that enemies have to be disarmed in order to sit and eat, so it’s a threat to your enemies. It’s saying they will be vanquished and disarmed, and you will put them at your table so you can gloat.”

His interpretation deflated me. I felt like I had gone to the movies to see Field of Dreams and ended up in a theatre watching Carrie instead.

The same passage interpreted in two different ways. Maybe it’s another “roses or thorns” situation that says more about the reader than the passage itself.

I prefer Field of Dreams, and I’ll stick to the rosier interpretation of the passage, too.

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “A table in the presence of thine enemies: forgiveness or threat?

  1. Karen Halchuk

    I’m with you Arlene. Life is about perspective. Things happen to us all, good and bad. How you react to them is influenced by the tools you have in your basket. You have a flashlight to help you to see the bright side of things. I do too. The batteries may need charging from time to time. That is where friends and family comes in. This morning my kinder class will sing ” This little light of mine” to the graduating grade 6 class while carrying finger lights. Shine on.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      I love your idea of using a flashlight to see the bright side of things. That’s a helpful image. “This little light of mine” is one of my favourites, and a good one for everyone to keep in mind. Shine our lights!


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