Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and refresh your souls.”
Matthew 11: 28, Amplified Bible
“When I am sore beset, I seek some quiet place,
Some lonely room or barren windswept hill,
And there in silence wait apart until
I see again the smile upon God’s face,
Until His presence floods me like the dawn,
And I can hear His whispered, ‘Peace be still,’
And know again the strength to do His will.
I turn to take my load and find it gone.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil.”
Psalm 23:5, Amplified Bible
Psalm 23 Part 21
“The Aroma of Anointing”
“You may have no family, no food, no clothes, no future, no spouse, no health, or no children, yet be rich beyond your wildest dreams because you have the Holy Spirit in your life.”
Jill Brisco, A Little Pot of Oil, (2003)
What do I think is the significance of having your head “anointed with oil”?
How does the Holy Spirit work like “healing oil” in my life?
“The anointing is not some mystical something out there. The anointing is the presence and power of God manifested.”
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted. He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the physical and spiritual captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound…to grant consolation and joy to those who mourn – to give them an ornament, a garland of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit – that they may be called oaks of righteousness, lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61: 1, 3, Amplified Bible
The prophet Samuel was in his declining years. While the people of Israel had confidence in his Godly leadership, they were now looking toward the future. In I Samuel 8: 4, 5, we are given insight into their thinking “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah. And said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
Obviously, with this perceived leadership gap, the Israelites decided they wanted to be like everybody else. And so, a king they asked for, and a king they got. Unfortunately, King Saul proved himself unworthy of the task at hand. While he “fit the bill” from an external viewpoint, King Saul’s heart was not committed to God.
It wasn’t long until we find that God stepped in with special instructions for the prophet Samuel. God asked him to go to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse. Here’s how 1Samuel 16 records the event that took place: “And it came to pass…that (Samuel) looked on Eliab, and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before (me).’ But the Lord said unto Samuel, ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16: 6 -7, K.J.V.). Seven times this scene was repeated until finally Samuel looked at Jesse and asked, “Do you have any other boys?” Almost as an afterthought, Jesse informed the prophet that indeed, there was the youngest son, who “keepeth the sheep”. Samuel then asked Jesse to bring this shepherd boy before him and when David arrived, we find that, “the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him: for this is he’” (1 Samuel 16: 12, K.J.V.).
I take time to share the background of this life-changing experience in David’s history for I believe that if you or I had been the young David, this event in our life would be a moment in time which we would never forget. In the presence of his father and brothers and even the elders of the town, the unsuspecting David was anointed with oil – set aside by God as His chosen king of Israel.
It is this significant point in time which may well have flooded David’s memory as he penned the words, “Thou anointest my head with oil,” for it was his heavenly Shepherd who called David from the pastures surrounding Bethlehem to the palace in Jerusalem. As David may have contemplated the way God had guided and lead him, into green pastures, beside still waters, and yes, even through shadowy valleys, his heart began to overflow with gratitude and praise.
Thinking back to the oil being poured over his head and running down his face, David’s appreciation for the presence of God’s unfailing care most likely brought on emotions that help us understand the personal tone which is found in Psalm 23: 5,6.
In order for us to get a better idea of the meaning attached to an “anointing with oil,” it would be wise to look at the Random House Unabridged Dictionary where we uncover three distinct definitions of the verb “to anoint.” Harold S. Kushner draws attention to the fact that, “the meaning builds in intensity and significance from the first to the second to the third definition.”
Definition #1: To apply an oily liquid.
Definition #2: To consecrate or make sacred in a ceremony that includes the token applying of oil.
Definition #3: To dedicate to the service of God.
Throughout Old Testament times, anointing by oil was experienced by those set aside for the priesthood. In Exodus 29: 21 we find that the Lord instructed that, “thou shalt take blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.” Not only were the members of the Israelite priesthood set aside for God’s service by “anointing with oil,” but as we found out, so were the kings of Israel. Interestingly, in Hebrew, the word “Messiah” means “Anointed One.” And in the Greek, the language used in the New Testament, the word is Christ. If we look at the words spoken by Andrew to his brother Simon (Peter), (Andrew) saith unto him, ‘We have found the Messias,’ which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1: 41, K.J.V.). What Andrew told Simon Peter was, “We have found the “anointed one.” While anointing with oil historically held great meaning to the members of the Israelite priesthood and to the kings in the Old Testament, it is the life of Jesus where we find “anointing with oil” has an even greater impact on your life and mine, especially when we embrace the promises of our good Shepherd.
In order to understand our Shepherd’s anointing care we need to look first at how a shepherd deals with his sheep everyday. In his book, David’s Song, author Maurice Berquist paints a vivid picture of the value “anointing with oil” can have in a flock of sheep: “With summer comes flies of all kinds…along with these flies are mosquitoes, gnats, and other troublesome parasites. Swarms of insects can drive sheep to distraction. Worst among all the flies are the nose flies that breed in the nasal passages of the sheep. If these flies find their way into the nasal passages, they deposit eggs that will hatch into larvae in a few days. These larvae will then crawl up into the sheep’s head. In agony from this irritation, the sheep may beat his head against a rock, a tree, or the earth…A wise shepherd knows the danger. So at the first sign of insects, he begins to anoint the sheep with a special ointment. In Bible times the ointment was usually made of olive oil, sulphur, and aromatic spices. A mixture was liberally spread on the sheep’s head – especially around the nose. In moments, relief would come.” With this picture in our minds, we can begin to draw a parallel with the many hassles and headaches which plague our daily lives. And we may ask ourselves, “How does my Shepherd respond? Does He have an answer for the afflictions which I face?” As author Berquist points out, “the Bible uses anointing oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit – the very presence of God.” Thankfully, you and I are promised that God’s spirit will not only guide us but as the Apostle Paul assures us, “the promises of God…are yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Corinthians 1: 20-22). Robert J. Morgan encourages us with the assurance that our, “Good Shepherd is alert to various hurts, cuts, and problems we have. He anoints us with oil…the Lord knows how to heal our hurts and bind our wounds. He rubs the soothing oil onto the rough spots of life.”
There is another beautiful picture we can draw from the phrase, “Thou anointest my head with oil”. This comes from the tradition at Eastern feasts of a host who “anoints” his guests as they make an entrance to his home. Jesus refers to this custom in his discussion, in Luke 7: 46, when He pointed out to Simon, who was so critical of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet, that he had not even bothered to care for Christ: “My head with oil thou didst not anoint.” This incident reminded me of the disciple John’s record of a dinner Jesus attended in Bethany just six short days before the Passover. At this supper the Bible says that, “then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and “anointed” the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment (John 12: 3, K.J.V.). Pastor F. B. Meyer, in his book The Shepherd Psalm, drew my attention to the fact that, “love and respect could hardly manifest themselves more tenderly than by the costliness of the materials which were compounded to compose the oil to be lavishly poured upon the head of the beloved guest. Myrrh, aloes, and cassia would scent the garments with fragrance for many days, and would be a memento of happy bygone hours. The lavish anointing which Mary of Bethany shed on the head of her Lord must have refreshed Him during the weary hours that followed, as the delicious scent stole up to Him from His dress and reminded Him of the affection of one true heart.”
As I consider today the promise of my Shepherd to anoint me with the oil of His Spirit, what a comfort to know that when I invite the Holy Spirit to infuse all of me, a heavenly aroma will be my constant reminder that my Shepherd never leaves me. I love the way Oswald Chambers expands on this particular thought: “The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a guest in a house. He invades everything.” This is the heavenly aroma which will remind us during those times when we walk through the shadows, that our Shepherd is near – right by our side. As E. Paul Hovey so descriptively portrays, “The word ‘Comforter’ as applied to the Holy Spirit needs to be translated by some vigorous term. Literally, it means ‘with strength.’ Jesus promised (us) that ‘The strengthener’ would be with (us) forever. This promise is no lullaby for the faint-hearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living.”
“Thou anointest my head with oil.” A promise to you and me today that our Father’s presence – the Holy Spirit – will bring comfort for our hurts; will give strength for our weakness; will send joy for our sorrow; and will filly infuse our lives with the aroma of heaven.
“’Thou anointest my head with oil’ Lord, not my head only, but also my hands and my feet.”
F. B. Meyer
“But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment), which you received from Him abides permanently in you.”
1 John 2: 27, Amplified Bible
“Holy Spirit, light divine,
shine upon this heart of mine,
Chase the shades of night away,
Turn my darkness into day.
Holy Ghost, with joy divine,
Cheer this saddened heart of mine,
Bid my many woes depart,
Heal my wounded, bleeding heart.
Holy Spirit, all divine
Dwell within this heart of mine.”
Andrew Reed, (1817)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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