by Brian G. Bettes
The Psalmist declared that, in His care for him, the Lord provided so much abundance that his cup overflowed (Psalm 23:5). What did David mean by this? In context of the psalm he was writing, he talked about God providing sustenance, even when being chased by his enemies, and healing ointment for his head and body. But is that all this verse is about?
The entire psalm is a metaphor of how our Lord, the Good Shepherd, cares for his “flock”—us (John 10:14, 16). It shows not only His willingness but also His ability to care for us by providing proper food and water in abundance, and protection in times of danger. It also makes it clear that He provides both our physical and spiritual needs (Psalm 23:3). Jesus is the true and caring Shepherd (Mark 6:34).
With regard to “a cup that runneth over,” several places in the New Testament talk about Jesus Himself being our food and drink (John 6:55). It talks about how we are to gain eternal life by eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:54). And those who do this will have “rivers of living water” (the Holy Spirit) flowing from them (John 7:37-39), water that they can share with others.
Let’s look at Jesus example for a moment. Remember the story of Him and the Samaritan woman at the well. It is an interesting interaction that we should read through from time to time because there is some very important information given there. But what really stands out to me is, again, Jesus started talking to her about Him giving water that “shall be a well…springing up unto eternal life” (John 4:14). What is of note to me is, Jesus was always sharing His spiritual cup with others. Look at all the healings He did. Look at all the miracles, blessings, and gifts He gave to those who sought Him. Jesus was always pouring out of His cup into the cup of others. It occurs to me that, as His disciples, we should be doing the same.
Jesus had a cup that He shared with those around Him during His life and ministry. But He also had a very specific cup that was given to Him by the Father that only He would have to “drink” (Luke 22:20). It was a cup that, if He did not have to drink of it, He pleaded with the Father that He not do so (Matthew 26:39,42). Yet it was His cup, and He did drink of that cup. In so doing, He gave to us the gifts of salvation and eternal life. Jesus poured out His overflowing cup onto us when He gave His blood in sacrifice for us.
Jesus gave us a cup (Luke 22:17). We must drink of that cup as He drank of His (Mark 10:39). In doing so, we then have something to offer others as mentioned previously (John 7:37-39; John 4:14).
In two places it is recorded that Jesus said, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). And, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).
We have been given a wonderful gift in receiving the Holy Spirit from the Father (John 15:26). Look at the tremendous blessings we have been given; most of all an understanding of His plan for mankind and His truth. His way of life, living, doing, acting, and being—is it not a blessing for us to know these things? How much are we sharing that with others every day? What example are we setting, being lights to the world (Matthew 5:14-16), by letting that living water bubble up out of us on a daily basis? Are we drawing from His well, then pouring it into the cup of others as we interact with them just as He did? Like the Psalmist, does our cup overflow with thanksgiving, joy, deep appreciation to our Father and Jesus—and others can see that clearly?
In these dark and uncertain times when people so desperately need hope, as we go about our day, let us do as Jesus did. When our cup runneth over…fill someone else’s cup.