The table is an outstanding picture of the rich life God’s people enjoy within the covenant. It is where the lord of the house feeds family and friends, and they share sweet communion. In the covenant home, “children [live] like olive plants round about thy table” ( Ps. 128:3 ). The Old Covenant house of God prominently featured a pair of golden tables ( Ex. 25:23 ff.). In the New Covenant, the congregation gathers regularly to worship at the Lord’s table. Covenant life, Christ promises, is “that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” ( Luke 22:30 ). And those who profane the Lord’s table profane His covenant (H.C., Q & A 82).
Considered by itself, the table, as the Greek word trapeze expresses, is simply a four-footed thing. Its real significance is better indicated by the Hebrew word shulcan, which means a thing sent out, and refers not so much to the table itself as to the bounties extended upon it. The importance of the tabernacle’s tables was derived from the twelve loaves of bread and dinner utensils set on one, and the seven-branched candlestick set on the other ( Ex. 25:23-40 ). Their significance was essentially the same as the bread and wine of the Lord’s “spiritual table,” where “Christ communicates Himself with all His benefits to us, and gives us there to enjoy both Himself and the merits of His sufferings and death: nourishing, strengthening, and comforting our poor comfortless souls” (B.C., Art. 35).
The table is the preeminent place where the lord of the house extends his blessings in grace. These bounties are rich. The table “should be full of fatness” ( Job. 36:16 ). Those who ate at Solomon’s table lacked nothing ( I Kings 4:27 ). The Lord’s table is where “we shall not want” because “our cup runneth over” ( Ps. 23:5 ). It is a table He owns, and the prerogative to distribute its blessings are His. He determines who eats there. Welcome are family whom the Lord of the house has begotten ( Ps. 128:3 ) or friends whom the Lord in vites as if they were His sons ( II Sam. 9:7-13 ; I Kings 2:7 ). Enemies are excluded. Blessed is the man, then, for whom the Lord graciously prepares a table in the presence of such enemies ( Ps. 23:5 )!
It is nothing new that unthankful children complain about the food father earns and mother prepares for the family table. Unbelieving Israel asked, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? ( Ps. 78:19 ). And when the Lord prepared a table, they said it was contemptible ( Mal. 1:7 ). So also today, when impenitent and hypocrites born into the church despise the provisions of the Lord’s table, that which should have been for their welfare becomes a snare ( Ps. 69:22 ; Rom. 11:9 ). Attendance at the table requires fidelity to the lord who furnishes it. The prophets of Baal ate at Jezebel’s table because they were beholden to her ( I Kings 18:19 ). The misery of David was deepened when a friend who ate regularly at his table turned traitor ( Ps. 41:9 ), an act fulfilled when King Jesus said, “the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table” ( Luke 22:21 ). The friends of Jesus “cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and the table of devils” ( I Cor. 10:21 ). Those only are allowed at His table who “are displeased with themselves for their sins, yet trust they are forgiven them…by the suffering and death of Christ; who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to amend their life” (H.C., Q & A 82).
We, who are God’s friends, and especially we who are lords of the house, should take heed lest our own family tables become simply a four-footed thing. The table should be guarded as the Lord guards His. Spiritual family and friends are welcome. The unbelieving and rebellious have their own tables. If our children are to be olive trees around the table, they should be planted there and not uprooted as soon as high school starts. The fatness of our table should not be simply roast beef and mashed potatoes. Wisdom urges the simple to gather at her table to receive understanding ( Prov. 9:1-4 ). Wise lords of the house gather their family at the table to feed them the fatness of Scripture. In this way only will the table remain a rich blessing of covenant life.
Rev. William A. Langerak (Wife: Karen)
Ordained: September 2003
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI - 2003Website: www.southeastprc.org/
Address1543 Cambridge Ave SE
State or ProvinceMI