Oil, in Old Testament and New Testament times was rubbed on the skin for refreshment. An anointed face was associated with joy, which is why we read of the oil gladness in passages like Isaiah 61. When people were mourning, they specifically refrained from this usual practice.
Anointing with oil was used to show honor for guests. As guests at The Lord’s table He does not forget to extend the courtesy of anointing us with oil as someone invited into His house.
Ordination for service to God.
Anointing of Kings
Jesse brings David in to meet Samuel. And in 1 Samuel verse 13:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.
Anointing of Prophets
When Elijah had finished his prophetic ministry, we see in 1 Kings 19:16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
Anointing of Priests
Leviticus 8:30 30 So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.; Three times it is called the “holy, anointing oil,” and the Jews were strictly forbidden from reproducing it for personal use (Exodus 30:32-33) saying . 32It must not be used to anoint an ordinary man, and you must not make anything like it with the same formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. 33Anyone who mixes perfume like it or puts it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’” The strictness of the guidelines for creating the oil was a test of the obedience of the Israelites setting apart of this oil itself as holy to God.
Messiah; Anointed One
The word Messiah or Christos in Greek from which we get Christ in English, describes Jesus’ Office or Role. It literally means, the Anointed One. In the Old Testament, people were anointed for the positions of prophet, priest, and king. Usually, people were anointed for these offices by the priest or king. So who anointed Jesus?
We read in Psalm 45, which, by the way, is a Psalm celebrating the king’s marriage in vs. 6-8 it says Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows. 8 All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
God is the one who anointed Jesus, and we see this picture of anointing again
And when Jesus, describes His own ministry, as he’s teaching in Nazareth in Luke 4:18 quoting from Isaiah 61 saying 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind,To set free those who are oppressed, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Jesus fulfilled the Role of King, Prophet and High-Priest (order of Melchizedek).
Oil for Healing
In Mark 6:13, the disciples anoint the sick and heal them. In Mark 14:3-9, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet as an act of worship. In James 5:14, the church elders anoint the sick with oil for healing. In Hebrews 1:8-9, God says to Christ as He returns triumphantly to heaven, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,” and God anoints Jesus “with the oil of gladness.”
When we anoint with oil when praying for healing, we understand that oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and it is through the power of God, through faith in God that healing happens.
Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit unites us as one flock. Oil symbolizes the Unity of the Church, as brothers and sisters sharing life together in peace. Psalm 133:1-2 says “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!”
The Holy Spirit Cleanses
Cleansing of believers is part of the work of the Holy Spirit, just as the cleansing of sheep to get rid of scab is part of the work of a shepherd. This developmental sanctification is an ongoing process which begins at conversion and continues throughout the believer’s life. It is this very difference between Christians and the world, this separation, this sanctification demonstrated in the lives of believers that God uses to demonstrate His power through our changed hearts and affords us the opportunity to point people to Jesus. If there is little difference between us and the world, it is unlikely that people will be attracted to Jesus through our witness since He will not have appeared to have made a difference in our lives.
The Holy Spirit Renews us
Just as the anointed face was a symbol of joy, the Holy Spirit gives us Joy and renews us day-by-day.
The Holy Spirit fills us and empowers us for Ministry
The Holy Spirit’s effusive work of infilling us gives us the power to choose more consistently to cooperate with the process of sanctification and not make choices in our Christian walk which would grieve the Spirit of God. As we cooperate with this purifying process, we are conformed more and more into the image of Christ
We see this in the Holy Spirit’s bestowing of Spiritual Gifts. In addition to His role in teaching us the inspired Word of God, the Holy Spirit gives each believer one or more Spiritual gifts according to His will. Each Christian operates in their spiritual gifts for the common good, to care for one another, to help other believers in their walk, to enable for ministry, and to strengthen and build up the Church.
A shepherd would make scouting expeditions before the sheep ever get to the mesas, to see how the grass is growing, and which mesas will be suitable for grazing and would also check to see if there were clusters of poisonous plants
God prepares the table for us
So how has God prepared our Pasture for us? As he lets Jerimiah know in 1:12 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” God makes sure that everything that He says will happen exactly as God has said it would.
The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6). As Proverbs 30:5 tells us 5 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. And this is why we study God’s Word, and look at it carefully, all of it is true. As it says in Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. God has carefully prepared His Word so that it is good grazing for the sheep—perfect pasture, without anything harmful to the sheep.
Mesas are good grazing ground because, being flat, the shepherd could easily watch all of his sheep.
Jesus desires that we walk close to him. When the predator comes, when there is a day of adversity, it is always the distant sheep, the ones who like to stray, the ones who like to roam and backslide who are picked off by predators and have their faith fail. That is not what God wants for us. So, get close to the Lord, and stay close to His people. Stick together, little flock.
Like the shepherd, God prepares our path before us. Psalm 37:23 says 23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way.24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
A table before me
The Israelites had challenged God. 18 As it tells us in Psalm 78 vs 18-19 And in their heart they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire. 19 Then they spoke against God; They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness”? And God showed them that He could prepare a table in the wilderness—the table of Showbread in the tabernacle; the Table of the Presence of God.Placed, inside the Holy place, on the North side, just outside the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:35), poles were attached so the table could be carried without touching it directly (Exodus 25vv. 25–28) to protect the priests.
In having such a table in the tabernacle, the Lord was demonstrating that the Israelites were to regard the tabernacle as His house.
God gave this bread back to “Aaron and his sons” who ate it in His holy presence. Eating of the bread of the Presence in God’s house signified the Lord was at peace with His people. We the priesthood of the New Covenant. 1 Peter 2:9 says But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Just how was the table of God’s Presence, the table of Communion spread out before us under the New Covenant?
It was at the cross. At the cross was where Jesus made an eternal peace between the God the Father and His people, so we may dine in His presence, which is what occurs during communion, when we partake of the Lord’s Supper at His table. What do we look to when we are taking communion? (1 Cor 11:23-28)
We look to the cross, the shedding of His Blood for us and the breaking of His Body for us. We remember the price that was paid in order to purchase this peace, this fellowship which we get to have with God.
In the presence of my enemies
Now when you’re in the presence of your enemies, sitting down to a nice meal is not generally what you have in mind. You don’t feel hungry and food doesn’t sound good. But King David here is talking about a feast in the midst of his enemies. David is calm among his enemies because he trusts in the Lord. Psalm 27 verses 1-4 says The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? 2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.
Remember Who’s table you sit at. The Lord of Hosts is our Host and Provider. And the picture here is that all of those others, the ones who choose to be the enemies of the Lord can only look on in frustration and envy. They could partake; salvation is open to anyone;
Romans 5:8But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 10:9-10 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
When shepherds were out in the field, they typically carried a rod and staff.
One of the primary purposes of the shepherd’s rod was for protection. The rod was a branch with a knob on one end which was used like a club or to throw at a predator.
Considering how the shepherd used the rod, it seems that the rod may be symbolizing the Word of God in this psalm.
The Word has the ability to correctly judge and divide our thoughts and intentions of the heart, if we will bring them to it, and let it do its job.
The shepherd could also hurl the rod at a sheep at a much slower pace, to get the attention of the sheep that just wouldn’t listen and stay with the flock.
Rod as a symbol of authority
The rod was also the symbol of the Shepherd’s authority. It was also a symbol of Kingly authority. The rod meant that he was in control of the sheep and don’t you mess with them.
The rod as a tool
John 10:7-10 7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
When the sheep were being kept in the fields, a temporary sheepfold was often constructed using large rocks stacked one upon another in a large circle, forming an enclosure. The shepherd himself would often serve as the gate for this type of sheepfold.
There is only one way into the sheepfold. Jesus said in John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
And again in Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Passing under the rod was part of a sheep’s daily life. As the sheep would enter the sheepfold, the shepherd would count them and make sure that all were present and accounted for. If he found any missing, he could block up the entrance to the sheepfold, and go and search for the missing sheep (Mathew 18:12-14). Jesus cares about each of us, and most especially when we are straying.
The shepherd would use that pointy end of the rod to push back the wool of the sheep to inspect the sheep for wounds, infections, and insect infestations.
This process of passing under the rod meant that the sheep was cared for because the shepherd was looking after it.
David is comforted, because the Lord is looking after him personally. Psalm 139 v. 1-6 expresses David’s delight in the fact that the Lord knows who he really is, inside and loves him anyway.
We are valuable to God, and He will take care of us. He knows us intimately, and he loves us and values us anyway.
A shepherd’s staff is perhaps the thing that identifies a shepherd more than anything else.
Draw close to our shepherd
First, notice that the thing that distinguishes a shepherd’s staff from other staffs is the crook of the staff. That kind of question-mark-shaped part at the top of the staff. This is used to draw the sheep closer to the shepherd.
And what a blessing it is, when the Lord draws us close. Psalm 65:4says How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.
Draw close to one another
In this I think we see a picture of how the Holy Spirit draws us together as a Body of Christ
For gentle correction
The shepherd will frequently use the blunt end to jab the sheep and nudge it back in the direction of the flock.
Sometimes we get nudges or checks from the Holy Spirit if we start to wander off, or are headed in the wrong direction.
God uses these tools of His Word and the Holy Spirit to protect us, guide us, correct and draw us close to Him.