You anoint my head with oil (Psalm 23:5b)

“You anoint my head with oil…”

Psalm 23:5

The anointing of oil on a person’s head might seem extremely bizarre and undesirable to the average person in today’s day and age.  Let’s be honest, if anyone approached you with a flask of oil fully intending to drench your little noggin it’s more than likely you’d start swinging (for those less likely to throw a punch, perhaps a stern talking to).  After all the attention and T.L.C. people give to their hair I don’t think oil is a desired product for the ol’ noodle, but perhaps it’s a different story for sheep. 

The practice of anointing one’s head with oil was packed with honor and purpose.  As King David continues to describe his relationship with the Lord we begin to hear about certain practices that are completely foreign to the average guy and gal.  Make no mistake though, just because this practice is unfamiliar to us today it was a commonly known and highly important practice for shepherds and sheep in the time of David.  Although there is a massive and meaningful direction we could head towards concerning the anointing of a man’s head with oil, I have chosen instead to pursue the significance of why a sheep would be anointed with oil, and how that might be applicable to us today.

Which finally brings about the question, “What is the significance of anointing a sheep’s head with oil?” and more importantly, “How does any of this apply to me today?”

I suggest a couple connections that are significant.

Being that sheep are often the victims of parasites, viruses, and infection a shepherd will sometimes apply oil to the head of the sheep as a preventative measure to form a layer of protection on the vulnerable areas of the sheep’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.

In the Bible, oil is a representation of the Holy Spirit.  And like sheep, we too are vulnerable to infections that fester, not outwardly but inwardly, not wounds of the flesh but wounds of the heart.  Maybe it was years ago when she died, Dad left, or the finances went south; whatever the case may be, if wounds are left unattended they begin to fester, slowly infecting and consuming the healthy areas of flesh…the same can also be said in regards to the heart and mind.  It might be some bitterness eating away at you, or the parasite of pride sucking the life out of you; maybe it’s the sickness of sin that’s left you in a bed of shame;  Whatever the case, our Good Shepherd has poured out over us the promised Holy Spirit to alleviate any ailments that might interfere with our ability to worship, witness, and work unto the Lord.  The anointing will essentially be keeping our eyes from losing sight of the Lord, hearts from growing weak in the Lord, ears from becoming deaf to the Lord, and mouths from complaining against the Lord.

Another typical reason for oil being applied to the head of Sheep is due to the instinctual desire to establish dominance among the flock.  From butting heads to poking and cutting each other with their horns, sheep often hurt their own pals for the sake of establishing a superior esteem.  The oil in these situations serves as a lubricant easing the blows and comforting the prods and cuts that sheep might inflict on each other.  Again, the anointing oil serving as a picture of the Holy Spirit being poured out is such a blessing when being applied to those moments when we butt heads with those around us.

“He rubs me the wrong way”

“She pushes me to my limit”

Naturally all of us suffer from the heredity of sin.  Issues of pride are present in each of us, so it’s only to be expected that we will be frustrated and irritate each other.  The solution isn’t cursing our enemy or counting to ten…the answer is found in the inner work done by the Holy Spirit.  All we have to do is ask God for this outpouring of His Spirit.

What happens when we ask?

God promises to give generously to our need.  (Matthew 7:11)

When it seems that the people around us are irritating us, pushing us around, or even sucking the life out of us, all we have to do is simply ask for the Lord to freshly pour out anew the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It will give you the increased grace you need for those people that tend to rub you the wrong way, and the peace you need to continue living a life of unhindered joy.

Comments (5)

  1. This devo blessed me because it reminded me to always be in a state of humility, esteeming others higher than myself in order to love them and to have that grace and merciful attitude toward my bro’s and sis’s in the Lord that He always has toward me.

    Thank you for your servants heart!
    Hebrews 12:1-3

  2. I’m analyzing this psalm because I am singing two different arrangements of it for my junior recital, and I love how described this section. Thank you for your help!

  3. I would be interested in following up on why the man’s head is anointed with oil? A friend asked me that question, and I couldn’t come up with anything more than conjecture. Thanks for your help.

  4. Thanks for posting! I was meditating on the 23 Psalm, and when I got to that portion, I desired to understand why a sheep would be annointed with oil. Thank God for using His people to help one another. Continue to let God use you!

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