You anoint my head with oil… Psalm 23:5a NIV
Last weekend my mother-in-law came to visit to celebrate Father’s Day and her birthday. We had a great time…and at the end of our celebration I drove her back home with my 2 little boys.
Of course keeping the boys busy and entertained during this 45-minute car ride to the West side of town…as always…was a challenge…so they began to take turns reciting Psalm 23 to their Grandma! Fun! Right?
Totally blows my mind that my 4 and 6 year-olds can recite Psalm 23…word for word…in its entirety! Ok I know I am bragging a bit…but what proud mommy wouldn’t?!
As they went through the verses, I thought…
Wow…they have no idea what they are saying! They have absolutely no clue what words/phrases like… green pastures…restore my soul…paths of righteousness…anoint my head with oil…even mean!!!
Come to think of it…we too may not really know or understand the abundant promises of blessing this Psalm holds either!
Did you know there are 18 promises in Psalm 23? You may even think of more…
1) The Lord is my Shepherd = That’s Care!
2) I shall not want = That’s Provision!
3) He makes me lie down in green pastures = That’s Rest!
4) He leads me beside the still waters = That’s Peace!
5) He restores my soul = That’s Healing!
6) He leads me in the paths of righteousness = That’s Guidance!
7) For His name sake = That’s Purpose!
8) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = That’s Presence!
9) I will fear no evil = That’s Comfort!
10) For You are with me = That’s Faithfulness!
11) Your rod and Your staff they comfort me = That’s Discipline and Guidance!
12) Your prepare a table before me = That’s Friendship
13) In the presence of mine enemies = That’s Protection!
14) You anoint my head with oil = That’s Consecration!
15) My cup runs over = That’s Abundance!
16) Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life = That’s Hope!
17) And I will dwell in the house of the Lord = That’s Security!
18) Forever = That’s Eternity!
So packed full of promises! Studying each promise in Psalm 23 in greater depth would be such an encouraging experience… wouldn’t you agree?!
But today I want to focus on one particular verse…Psalm 23:5…and dig deeper into the phrase…You anoint my head with oil.
So what exactly does it mean when David says…You anoint my head with oil?
The dictionary defines the word “anoint” as…“to apply oil to as a sacred rite especially for consecration; to dedicate to the service of God.”
The New Testament Greek words for “anoint” are chrio which means “to smear or rub with oil” and aleipho which means “to anoint.”
David…the author of Psalm 23…is speaking of the symbolic custom in the Bible in which kings were anointed to represent the chosen one from God.
This anointing was representative of the responsibilities that the King would assume over the people.
According to the biblical meaning of the word…anointing of a particular person was also carried out for the purposes of healing…both physical and spiritually.
As the definition above states… to anoint was a representation of setting someone or something aside for the service of God. (Consecration)
We as believers and followers of Christ must indeed be separated for the service of God…living in this world but not of this world.
In Psalm 23…we see in David’s words a humble image as he compares himself to a sheep in relationship to what God does on our behalf.
Did you know that sheep often face various enemies…many wild animals such as…lions, bears, and wolves?
Now David knew this first hand because as a young boy he worked as a shepherd…and so we can be sure he had opportunities and instances when he perhaps had to kill some of these wild animals to protect his flock.
But sheep face other enemies that we don’t necessarily think much about because these enemies are so small. These creatures can actually make a sheep’s life so miserable that they won’t even lie down to rest!
These small enemies include the warble flies…mosquitoes…gnats…and something called the Nasal Fly.
Sheep are specially troubled by this “Nasal Fly” or the “Nose Fly.” These little flies buzz around the sheep’s head attempting to lay their eggs on the damp mucous membrane of the sheep’s nose. So gross…I know!
If they are successful…the eggs will hatch in a few days and it forms a small, slender, worm-like larvae. They work their way up the sheep’s nasal passage and into the sheep’s head. It causes severe irritation to the sheep.
And for relief from the pain, the sheep will often beat their heads against a tree or rub their heads on a rock. This as you can imagine causes great pain to the animals and has been known to kill some sheep.
So where are we going with this?
When the shepherd begins to see signs of these tiny enemies…he will begin to smear and rub oil to the sheep’s head and nose.
Once the oil has been applied to the sheep’s head…there is an immediate change in the animal’s behavior. The aggravation is gone…the irritability is gone…and the animal can lie down and rest… just as David suggests in Psalm 23.
Now we may not be bothered by such nasal flies as the sheep are…but what thoughts…worries…challenges… frustrations… irritations…buzz around our head robbing us of our peace…our joy…our faith?
Do you find yourself struggling to gain control over your mind and thoughts not only in the bigger worries and challenges of life…but also the smaller daily frustrations and irritations?
Just as these small enemies…like the nasal flies…rob sheep of their peace and rest…we too can easily allow the small enemies of our day…like frustrations and irritations…to steal our peace and joy and eventually our faith as well.
Remember that Satan is doing everything within his power to gain control over our minds.
He played with Eve’s mind (Genesis 3)…He played with David’s mind (1Chronicles 21)…and He even played with Jesus’ mind! (Matthew 4) So why wouldn’t he try to play with our minds as we are made in the image of Christ?!
Satan wants to rob us of our peace…our joy…and our faith. In the big things…and small things. Period.
But just like the oil that is applied to the sheep’s head causes an immediate change in the sheep’s behavior allowing him to have peace, comfort, and rest…We too must allow God to anoint our head with oil allowing us to keep our peace…our joy…our faith.
This oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit….which is available to you…to me…and to every child of God!
When we allow God to anoint our head with oil…we are actually anointed with His presence.
It is His presence in our lives that will protect our minds on a daily basis from being robbed of our peace…our joy…and our faith.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 NLT
For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; And take the helmet of salvation… Romans 6:16,17a ESV
God is just as much in the big things we worry about as He is in the small things! He is actually the Master of what may seem small and insignificant!
We must be continually reminded that the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our life will protect…strengthen…refresh…and keep us consecrated in our walk with Jesus.
We can fight Satan and his attempts to steal our peace…our joy…and our faith by putting on the full Armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18. (For more on the Armor of God…Refer to previous blog posts titled… “Your Daily Armor”…“Draw Your Sword” … “Don’t Drop Your Shield!”)
We can also fight Satan from gaining control over our minds by talking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. (For more on controlling our minds…Refer to previous blog posts titled… “Peace of Mind” and “Loving God with All Your Mind”)
By fighting to gain control of our minds, we will experience greater peace…joy…and faith on a daily basis and resist banging our heads against a wall…like the sheep do in response to their frustrations and irritations.
- Do you know that there are abundant promises of blessing in Psalm 23?
- Do you know what David means when he says…You anoint my head with oil?
- How does this phrase relate to sheep?
- What does the oil symbolize?
- Who is this “oil” available to?
- Do you find yourself struggling to gain control over your mind and thoughts not only in the bigger worries and challenges of life…but also the smaller daily frustrations and irritations?
- Do these daily frustrations and irritations rob you of your peace…your joy…even your faith?
- There are at least 18 promises of blessing in Psalm 23! Read through them listed above.
- Once the shepherd applies oil to the sheep’s head…there is an immediate change in the animal’s behavior. The aggravation is gone…the irritability is gone…and the animal can lie down and rest… just as David suggests in Psalm 23.
- The “oil” symbolizes the Holy Spirit which is available to you and everyone who is a child of God.
- We must allow God to anoint our head with oil allowing us to keep our peace…our joy…our faith.
- For more on practically fighting Satan from controlling our minds…see the references to previous blog posts.