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Psalm 23 Part 10

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted January 9, 2013
RELIGION – We are nearing the end of our study in Psalm 23. Today’s verse is the last part of verse 5 “Thou anointest my head with oil.” On the surface, my first thought was “I wash my hair daily to keep my hair from being oily and keep it looking generally awesome.” So what is up with this head anointing stuff? Well I found out what this imagery meant to a shepherd and it is pretty rough.
Over and over we have highlighted the many dangers in the life of a sheep. One more issue they face is the nose fly. The nose fly is a nasty fly that seeks to nest in the sheep's nose so it can lay eggs. Then the eggs will hatch and a whole settlement of larvae will burrow deep into sheep's nasal cavity. This causes severe inflammation and makes life generally awful for the poor creature. As you can imagine when sheep have nose flies, they become very agitated. They stomp their feet fitfully, and will even ram their heads against rocks in order to rid themselves of the misery.

Now a good shepherd does not want this for the sheep of his flock. The cure and prevention for this problem was for the shepherd to apply oil over the sheep's nose and head. Phillip Keller again writes how “Once the oil had been applied, there was an immediate change in behavior. Gone was the aggravation; gone the frenzy; gone the irritability and the restlessness. Instead, the sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment.”

In addition, biblically, oil usually symbolizes the Holy Spirit. So when we look at this in our own life what we see is that we should allow God to daily anoint us with His Holy Spirit’s presence. In life we have many nose flies don’t we? There are many things that bring us great annoyance. It maybe your boss at work, your spouse when they are grumpy, your teenager, politics, and a whole host of other flies that want to ruin your day and make you bang your head against a rock. But the practical significance of this is that that when we allow the Good Shepherd to anoint us with his presence, many of the head-banging annoyances of life lose their significance. We find that they no longer drive us to distraction.

Why is this so? The Holy Spirit will always work to remind us that our Shepherd is in control. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will, if we allow Him to, fill us with sufficient peace and joy so that we don't need to get stressed out about every little inconvenience. Moreover, oil in the Old Testament is shown to be a means of refreshment. The Bible says that God gives us “...wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart." (Psalm 104:15) In a hot and arid climate where your skin would dry and crack, oil was used as a moisturizer. Oil was also used during the consecration of a king, priest, or a prophet. These men were anointed to symbolize God’s filling them with His sprit and setting them apart for His service.

So here we again see the ideas behind the phrase, "thou anointest my head with oil." You can be anointed by the Holy Spirit. His presence will protect you, strengthen you, refresh you, and keep you consecrated in your walk with Jesus. These are all realities that I desire and that God longs to give His flock.

I want to look at one more phrase: “My cup runneth over...” In a house with two boys, I usually don’t like when they exclaim “daddy, my cup ran over.” It will usually mean a mess for me to clean up. But here it is a positive thing. David is saying “Thank you God, I have more of God than I can contain. I have more blessings than room to hold them. My life in God is a life of abundance."

Another writer on this psalm recommended that the readers stop and make a list of the areas where “my cup runneth over”. So here is the list I started:

One, I am blessed with a loving and supportive family.
Two, I am blessed with more books on my kindle than I could almost ever read.
Three, I am blessed to see people in the church I pastor grow and be conformed more and more to the image of Jesus.
Four, I have been forgiven of more sin than I will ever even understand or grasp.

Of course this is incomplete, and there may be areas where your cup isn't quite full. The problem comes in when you spend too much energy focusing on what isn't there or what you feel is missing from your life, than on praising the Lord for the blessings He has provided. Now I encourage you to pray for anything that you think you lack in your life, but in every prayer of asking, let there be a prayer of thanks.
So wash your hair, watch out for the nose flies of life, and make your cup running over list!

Pastor Phillip

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