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Psalm 23 Part 10
By Pastor Philip Howle
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
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
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
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
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!
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