20. The Sanctification of the Spirit: Thou anointest my head with oil

Psalm 23:5c

March 28

    Why would a shepherd literally anoint the head of a sheep with oil? For a practical reason, Phillip Keller, who worked as a shepherd, rather graphically explains, “Sheep are especially troubled by the nose fly. They buzz about the sheep’s head, attempting to deposit their eggs on the damp, mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. If successful, the eggs will hatch in a few days to form small, slender, worm-like larvae. They work their way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head, irritating and inflaming their heads. But if the oil is applied to the sheep’s head and nose, the flies never get the chance to implant the irritating eggs.” 

     But beyond literal practicality, there are symbolic and spiritual applications: 

A.   Oil is repeatedly a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
1)    Other things also symbolize the Holy Spirit, such as the dove or water, but the anointing with oil physically demonstrated a spiritual reality and prepared the person for God to use them. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.” 1 Sam. 16:13.
2)    Often times the word oil is not used, but anointing is strongly associated with oil, so much so that oil is implied, even if not physically present. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel…” Luke 4:18 a (see also Isa. 61:1, and Ps. 89:20)
3)    Messiah means anointed one so when I think of the Good Shepherd anointing my head, I need to ask for His power so that I can do good as He did. When He anoints me with His Spirit, I know I have the God of the universe within me.  “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:38 
4)    The Jewish people would also take notice that the head specifically was anointed. They would remember than Aaron, the priest, was anointed with oil on his head. Prophets, priests and kings are inaugurated into office with the anointing of oil on their heads (see 1 Kings 19:16, 2 Kings 9:3). 
a.    He has called me to be a prophet to declare His truths. (1 Cor. 14:1)
b.    He has called me to be a priest to present God to the people and to pray for people back to God. (1 Peter 2:9)
c. He will, in the resurrection prepare me to reign as priest and king in His kingdom (Rev. 5:10).

B.   Oil is also a symbol of setting apart, such as a greeting for a very special guest. Oil is often called “holy anointing oil,” (Exod. 30:25, 31; 37:29) with holy meaning “set apart.” Oil is used in praying over the sick
1)    God sets us apart with the Holy Spirit to show we are special to Him.  When Jesus went to Simon’s house, where a woman anointed his feet and wiped them with her hair, Jesus mentioned that Simon did not anoint his head with oil. Elsewhere he was anointed with oil on His head and feet. It was not a common practice, but when it was done, it show extreme honor.
2)    God sanctifies us with the Holy Spirit for service. Oil not only anointed people, but also the tabernacle and its utensils. When Stephen preached before the Council, the Bible says he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Other times the Spirit’s filling gives us boldness, discernment and other ministries for service. When we fast and pray, we are to anoint our heads with oil. We always have the Holy Spirit and He will never leave us, but there are times when we are filled with the Holy Spirit for anointed service.
3)    God sets me apart with the Spirit as sealing me as a proof, promise and protection for our salvation and redemption.
a.    2 Corinthians 1:22 - who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
b.    Ephesians 1:13 - In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
c.    Ephesians 4:30 - And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
4)    Anointing with oil is also symbolic for healing. If any are sick, they are to call for the elders to anoint with oil and to pray (James 5:14). The oil reminds us that God has power for healing, whatever method He uses. The greatest healing is the healing from our sins. He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

     “Lord, sanctify me with your Holy Spirit.
Set me apart for your service today.
Keep me safe from Satan's infestation
in my thoughts and actions. Amen.”


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