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What does it mean that my cup runneth over?

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Question: "What does it mean that my cup runneth over?"

The phrase my cup runneth over is the King James Version’s wording of Psalm 23:5. Other versions say “my cup overflows.” A cup runs over when it cannot hold all that is being poured into it. The emphasis of Psalm 23 is the Good Shepherd’s loving care for His sheep (cf. John 10:11, 14). The Lord not only gives His people what they need (Psalm 23:1–2), but He supplies abundance in the midst of difficult times (verse 5). This abundance is not limited to material blessings under the Old Covenant, but it also includes the Holy Spirit’s future outpouring upon all who ask (Luke 11:13; Acts 2:1–4).

The Bible emphasizes the excessive love, blessing, and power that God desires to pour out on those who love Him (Malachi 3:10; Lamentations 3:22; Psalm 108:4). Jesus reflected God’s generosity when He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Paul continues that theme in Ephesians 3:20 and describes God as the One “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Romans 8:37 promises that we are “more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” The message echoed in each passage is that of God’s excessive grace and provision for every area of our lives. He is not stingy, nor are His blessings confined to temporal things. In Christ we can have overflowing joy, overflowing love, and overflowing peace. We can bear everlasting fruit for God’s kingdom, and we can overcome impossible challenges when the Holy Spirit fills our hearts until our “cup runneth over.”

The Bible records many mighty things done when people were filled with (i.e., controlled by) the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:2–3; Ezekiel 43:5; Luke 1:67; Acts 4:31). We are urged to be filled with the Spirit as well (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16, 25). However, as a glass cannot be filled with milk if it is already filled with mud, we cannot be filled with the Spirit when we are already filled with sin, pride, or self-will. Before we can be filled to overflowing, we must be willing to empty ourselves of everything that would hinder the Spirit’s working in our lives. It is only when our hearts are filled with God that we can accomplish all He desires to do in and through us. His grace knows no limits for those whose hearts are wholly His (2 Chronicles 16:9a). He desires to fill us with His Spirit until our cup runneth over.

Recommended Resource: Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms: Hope & Encouragement from Psalm 23 by Max Lucado

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What does it mean that my cup runneth over?

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