I have to admit, I always wondered what this part of Psalm 23 meant. I thought “He anoints my head with oil” was figurative language for God keeping the Psalmist healthy. I never knew this parallel.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Psalm 23:5, ESV
“Sheep can get their head caught in briers and die trying to get untangled. There are horrid little flies that like to torment sheep by laying eggs in their nostrils which turn into worms and drive the sheep to beat their head against a rock, sometimes to death. Their ears and eyes are also susceptible to tormenting insects.”
So the shepherd anoints their whole head with oil.
“Then there is peace. That oil forms a barrier of protection against the evil that tries to destroy the sheep. Do you have times of mental torment? Do the worrisome thoughts invade your mind over and over? Do you beat your head against a wall trying to stop them? Have you ever asked God to anoint your head with oil?”
He has an endless supply!
His oil protects and makes it possible for you to fix your heart, mind, and eyes on Him today and always! There is peace in the valley! May our good good Father anoint your head with oil today so that your cup overflows with blessings! God is good and He is faithful!!”
“Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:75, NLT
Three denials are followed by three reaffirmations.
“A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
The apostle Peter was a fervent disciple. He knew who Jesus was before most. He was always included in special times (e.g. the transfiguration, Gethsemane). He was favored by Jesus throughout times of ministry. I also believe that he was Jesus’ friend.
Peter is known for:
being called on the shores of Galilee, Matt 4:18-19
‘almost’ walking on water, Matt 14:29-30
finding the tax money in a fishes’ mouth, Matt 17:24-27
having his feet washed, John 13:6-7
in Gethsemane– cutting off an ear, John 18:10-11
his remorse at denying Jesus, Matt 26:75
at the empty tomb with John, John 20:3-8
Peter’s own denials were of a serious nature affecting who he was, and who he was to become. Jesus astutely intervenes as they ‘breakfasted’ on the seashore. There would be three affirmations; one for each denial. Peter needed to meet the resurrected Jesus, and speak with him about what he had done. Peter needed this.
A denial has different intensities and can be used in many different ways.
Out of our own confusion, we realize that we can also deny Jesus. Perhaps frequently. And none of us have an immunity as of yet. We deny the Lord when we refuse to speak of him to others. We deny the Lord when we fail to do what is right. Sometimes we deny him flagrantly, other times it is a more subtle attitude. At best, we’re still inconsistent, and at worst, apostate.
We’re not punished or abandoned for this behavior.
Human logic would suggest that we should be. But instead we are gently restored. Given the opportunity, Peter the fisherman, would eventually become a wise shepherd to the young Church. I would also suggest that Peter’s personal weakness would serve him well as a gentle, and caring pastor.
Peter, near the end of his life, goes ‘full circle’ and uses a very precise Greek word foundin only two places in the New Testament. It is the specific form of the word “shepherd.” It is only used in John 21:16-17 in Peter’s restoration, and in 1 Peter 5:2. Peter encourages the Church with the same words Jesus himself spoke to him on the beach so long ago! Peter wrote:
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing.”
Many things seem to have risen up to block us. What we have to face is scary. It shakes us right down to our sandals. We see the ultimate intention of the enemies work. If we pass on Goliath, he will remain, and the Father’s plan becomes vulnerable.Sooner or later, he must be faced.
“Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.”
“Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.”
1 Samuel 17:4-11, NLT
Things are such in Israel, that an active faith has no real significance. Men are going to die, many very quickly. Then up steps David, he is untried in battle, but within him is an eager commitment to a faith in Jehovah. Fear has consumed hearts and minds, which are now full of ‘scary goliath fears’ and confusion. They’re pretty much inconpacitated at this point. The Scripture says “they were terrified and deeply shaken.” This is an irrational fear.
David (the shepherd boy) steps out and into the confusion. He is resistant to the fear that attacks his brothers. He identifies the giant before him as evil, and stands in the way of the Father’s will. David advances without fear.
The space once occupied by fear has been filled up by faith.
This story, is much more than a story. It may entertain schoolchildren, but it is so much more for us as believers. Most definitely you will be called upon to face a Goliath of your own. He is waiting for you, and you must step forward in faith. If you want to negotiate this away. Don’t! You are already dead.
So much points to Goliath’s superiority. He is a man-of-war; a dedicated and trained source of death. Goliath equips himself to stand quite forcefully over you. He presses forward, confident that he will destroy you. But David steps out of the line. He is trusting in God alone. He steps forward with no armor (Saul’s didn’t fit).
Something is about to happen, something children will sing about, and people will always esteem. Some theologians call this a “power encounter” which is about to tumble down.
David is about to kill Goliath, with just a stone from his sling. He swings, throws and embeds a rock into the giants forehead– right between his eyes! The giant collapses, and David moves forward, and he cuts off the giants head. He uses Goliath’s own sword to do this. Brutal and bloody? Terribly so.
Each of us face a tall evil.
Things around us are not much different. Something that is monstrous and destructive. We cannot reason with it. We can only face it with the weapons the Father provides for us. When we advance to that source, we must do so with a faith that is real and undefeated.
Some reading this are pounded with depression and mental illness. I truly understand. But you’re called to advance on any personal darkness.
We must stand and take an aggressive posture against it. As mentally ill people, the battle (and the stigma) is more intense, but it is overwhelmingly defeated by our simple faith in God’s Son.
Simplicity is our key, and we will not advance with anything less. At times, we think that we can strategize our way to victory. We hope to rationalize our enemy away by thinking positively about him. We think we can move against him by being clever. That will not work. Our simple hearts must be laced with faith.
We need to step in to this, and then we will dance in the enemies jaws!
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.”
Luke 15:4-5, NLT
These things will happen from time-to-time. Good shepherds keep a mental tally of every sheep in the flock. The absence of just one is a matter of intense concern. The parable rolls out and the shepherd takes off, leaving 99% of the sheep. Now, over the years I always thought that was very foolish. You just can’t leave your flock “in the wilderness” (the NIV says, “open country.”)
If it was me, I wouldn’t play blackjack with my flock like this. I would of just cut my losses, and move on. It’s bad luck for sure, but why risk more? Could it be that this shepherd is a lousy one, and unable to handle his responsibilities? Leaving behind 99% to rescue a single sheep doesn’t seem wise.
But yet it is a core thought of Jesus’: losing–searching–finding–rejoicing. Finding this sheep is imperative. When he does find it, the text tells us that the shepherd lifted it up, and carried on his shoulders. He does not drive the poor, weary sheep home. This is not the way the Eastern shepherd does it.
He stoops down and lifts it up, and lays it on his own shoulder and carries it back. Some others will often use their staff, and beat the sheep out frustration. Perhaps that want to teach the wandering one a lesson. But that didn’t happen.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
John 10:14-15, NLT
There is a desperate need today for insightful shepherds to work in God’s flock. People who watch and feed and protect. We must advance to this point–Jesus carried us, our burdens, illnesses, sins and perversity. He picked me up, and lifted me back into the flock. The heart of a shepherd cares for every single sheep, even one lost sheep…and maybe even especially the one lost sheep. Does the Church today reflect this parable? What do you think?