In the 23rd Psalm, the shepherd David compares his relationship with his flock to his relationship with God. In the fifth verse, he says “You anoint my head with oil”. What is the purpose of this?
Sheep are often distressed by flies and other insects. These pests will attack their head, borrowing into their ears and noses where the tissue is softest. There they will lay their eggs, and the larvae will hatch into tiny worms that travel up into the brain and can cause infections and death. The sheep will literally beat their heads against a rock in an attempt to end the intense itching and pain. Sometimes they are so tormented that they will actually kill or seriously injure themselves trying to stop the irritation.
To prevent this, the shepherd will coat the head and nose of the sheep with a mix of olive oil, sulphur, and herbs. The smell will repel insects, and the oil soothes irritated skin and promotes healing. Shepherds say that their animals will relax and go back to feeding as soon as the oil is applied. The relief is almost immediate. This process is repeated often.
Our lives are busy, messy, and complicated. We are distracted and irritated by many challenges, but often it’s the little things that bother us the most. It’s these little “bugs” that destroy friendships, ruin marriages, rip families apart, and render churches ineffective. When we are constantly bombarded by one irritation after another, our focus is taken off of the task God has for us.
We need our Shepherd, Jesus, to anoint our lives with protective, healing oil. We need it daily, and sometimes throughout the day. Every time we begin to feel the nagging irritation of something that has the potential to escalate and cause damage, we need to go before our God and ask for a fresh layer of His anointing to wash away the irritants and prevent them from taking hold.
This world is a foreign and dangerous place for the child of God, and without a daily anointing of His cleansing grace we are susceptible to myriad little irritants that can multiply and turn into much bigger problems that damage us emotionally and spiritually. The more time we spend in His presence, the better we will be able to identify the pests of life that can cause harm to us, and the more inclined we will be to run to Jesus for anointing and healing.