So, we have been looking at Psalm 23 and we have begun to unearth some of the richness of this Psalm. I hope that as you live you will continue to see the beauty and comfort found in this Psalm in your personal life.
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23: 5b-6
Philip Keller explains, in his book A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm the significance of a shepherd anointing his sheep. The practice of anointing sheep was very important. During the summer months the sheep were led to the bountiful table lands; this was pleasant in a sense but if the sheep were not anointed they would constantly be bothered by the pests around them. The most bothersome of these were the swarms of flies that would pester sheep that were not anointed (sheep whose headsí the shepherd placed oil upon). The flies were dangerous because they would fly into the nostrils of sheep, that cool, dark, moist place (the sheepís nostrils) and lay their eggs. This was good for the fliesí eggs, but this would cause brain damage to the sheep. They would run wildly. Sometimes they would butt trees with their heads hoping to get some relief from the irritation of the fliesí eggs. Many sheep could be lost when attacked by these swarms of flies if they were not anointed. The oil on the sheepís head kept the flies away from the sheep; it was a repellant from the dangerous flies.
We know that in the Bible oil represents the Holy Spirit. It is interesting that we find such a profound object lesson here. Godís Spirit covering our mind keeps away things that can cause us such mental anguish that we damage our own bodies and perhaps even othersí. The little things of life that do not come individually, but in swarms, to disturb us are repelled when we allow the Holy Spirit to cover us.
The act of anointing each sheep shows the closeness that the sheep have with their shepherd. The shepherd loves the sheep and knows that he must anoint them so that they can be protected from the swarms of flies that can potentially kill them.
God sees in our lives that there are swarms of flies that try to find a home in our minds and destroy us. There are swarms of erroneous teachings that if followed will lead us to destruction. There are swarms with the daily cares that come in our direction. There are swarms of bad influences all around.
The sheep are on the tablelands but the swarms of flies still come. Only the anointing prepared by the shepherd will keep the swarms of flies away.
The New Living Translation (NLT) translates verse 6 as:
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
We have peace in this life and hope for the next. God is very much in love with us. Look again at this entire Psalm and reflect on the goodness and love that God has for us.