You anoint my head with oil.
In “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” W. Phillip Keller shares that in the summer highlands, the warm weather brings out all types of insects that bother sheep. Different types of flies will go right up their noses to lay their eggs. If you’ve ever had a gnat fly up your nose, you can imagine their discomfort. To avoid this, the sheep will run like crazy, and will even hit their heads against hard objects to try to bring relief. According to Keller, some beat themselves to death. If the eggs hatch and the larvae continue to develop, the sheep can suffer from infections which can also take their lives. How terrible!!
Ancient shepherds, and even shepherds today, mix a concoction of oil, sulphur, and spices (or chemicals). They repeatedly anoint the sheep’s noses and heads with the oil during the bug season, and it drives the parasites away so that they sheep can rest.
Another plague for the sheep is something called scab. It is a skin disease caused by microscopic parasites that breed in the warm weather. When sheep rub heads, they transfer the parasites and the condition spreads quickly through the herd. Again, the cure is a thorough dip in the oil solution.
Keller compares people’s problems to the flies that drive sheep to distraction, and he draws a very fitting comparison between sheep getting their heads together and spreading disease with the very real issue of how easily ideas and cultures are shared today, and how many of those ideas are not coming from a scriptural view.1
This world is full of snares. We need to follow God’s commandment to love Him with all of our minds. That is such a tall order, with so many facets, but it starts with pursuing His truth. Proverbs 9:10 says,
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
We have to have knowledge of God and His ways to become wise. Jesus said that if we are not for him, we are against him. If Jesus is not our Lord and Master, the devil is by default, and the devil is a terrible master. He leads those who follow him to calamity and destruction. God’s way is always good to us and good for us. The Bible is God’s truth, given to us in love. It is the ultimate authority. It is the standard for us to measure every idea against. If it doesn’t match God’s truth, it’s a lie, so we need to be careful who we “rub heads” with.
It is so simple, and yet so many people are moving farther from God and His truth. Young people are being saturated with worldly ideas through internet, media, the educational system, and so many places. They are indoctrinated to believe there is no truth but their own. As our ideas and cultures are molded by these things, the prevalence of anxiety, depression, violence, and so many other mental disorders are emerging in greater and greater numbers.
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
When we continually wash our minds with God’s word, knowledge of Him and His will makes us wise. Our minds are changed as we believe Him, and our whole being is transformed by His truth. The oil of of His Spirit soothes, heals and protects us. Our minds and actions are under the control of God’s Spirit, and His peace which passes understanding, guards us.
I want this. Lets ask God for a fresh filling each morning. Lets invite Him to renew our minds every new day, and to guide, guard and direct our hearts, minds, and actions.
1Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Print.
Photo by pexels.com.
Find all 12 Reflections of Psalms 23 HERE.