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You Have Anointed My Head With Oil

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

This week, as we journey through Psalm 23, we are focusing on verse 5. If you are new to this blog, we have been pondering a verse a week through Psalm 23 to gain peace as we leave a tumultuous 2020 and enter 2021. You can find all of the previous posts on www.nancygemaehlich-author.com. Please begin by reading Psalm 23 below:

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

3 He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 (NASB)

Until verse 4 of this psalm, the author speaks of the Lord in the second person, i.e., He makes…, He leads…, He restores.... But in verses 4 and 5, the psalmist speaks not of God but to God. The psalm becomes more personal. You, Lord, are with me. You, Lord, comfort me. As we move into verse 5, the psalmist says [paraphrased], You, Lord, prepare a table for me “in the presence of my enemies.” You, Lord, have anointed my head with oil.

How often do we stop and look a loved one in the eye and tell them, "You love me well," or "You care for me well"? It's a vulnerable and intimate thing to do. It forms and strengthens bonds of love and trust. Affirming trust is precisely what the psalmist is doing between him and his Lord. Too often, we talk with God from the second person, in the Him over there mode. Today, as you recite and meditate on this psalm, actually put yourself into the place of the speaker and connect with the heart of God, avowing your trust in His care.

The content of verse 5 moves from the analogy of the Lord as Shepherd to the Lord as a host saying, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." However, the message stays the same, the Lord provides above and beyond all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20). Christ is the Bread of life on which we feast. And in a future age, we will sit down to dine with Him at the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:2, 7-9). Our enemies, those who oppose God, will only be able to look on and see the blessings intended for the Lord’s people.

Verse 5 goes on to say, "You have anointed my head with oil." In the ancient Near East, one anointed the heads of important guests at feasts. The Lord also had His servant’s heads anointed with oil as a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit on their lives, particularly kings.[1] Here in verse 5, David, the psalmist, affirms that God in His love and salvation has anointed him with His very Spirit who comforts, counsels and guides. We, too, as Christians, have been anointed with God's very Spirit and receive the same calling as priests and kings (Rev. 1:6), as well as His ability and comfort for our lives (John 16:7). If you are in Christ, my friend, you are anointed by the Spirit. Stop and take a moment to ponder that.

Lastly, the psalmist says, “My cup overflows.” David wrote in Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup.” Bratcher notes regarding the cup, lot or portion, “What the psalmist has comes from Yahweh, who protects and guides him. So the figure means that Yahweh guarantees his future, his destiny. njv translates “You control my fate”; frcl and gecl “you hold my destiny in your hands”; spcl “my life is in your hands.”[2] So, the idea of the psalmist’s cup overflowing is a word picture of an abundant life that God has designed and provided. This reinforces the message of the psalm, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Take a moment to meditate on the fact that in Christ, you have all you need, even an overflowing abundance, now and forevermore.

[1]Anointing in the Bible signifies that God was “staking a claim” on the anointed and/or that God was pouring out His Spirit upon the anointed. (Bergen, 1–2 Samuel, 126–27). [2] Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 143.

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