“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5)
The Good Shepherd “anoints” His sheep. What does this mean? I believe that we can gain several insights about the Lord and His care for us through David’s description. Anointing sheep with oil is the regular practice for a good shepherd. When the sheep are out in the fields grazing they will often get scratched by thorns or injured in a fall. In David’s time (and some still today) the shepherd carried an anointing oil with him in a flask to clean and treat such wounds. It would also be used to sooth the wounds caused by fights with other sheep. Without the care provided by the shepherd, the injuries would become worse and infection would set in and the condition of the sheep would quickly deteriorate.
So the first thing that we can learn about the care of a good shepherd is that it begins with good look at us. In other words, the good Shepherd examines His sheep and looks for injuries. He can usually tell by a change of behavior, a limp or a change in the energy level. He may notice that a sheep is struggling or acting differently. He goes to the sheep and He looks it over thoroughly. “Are you okay?”, He asks.
If there is a problem the shepherd cleans the injury and anoints it with the oil. One of the most common places for a sheep to get hurt was the head. It is the most vulnerable part of the sheep. The body of the sheep has some extra protection from the heavy wool coat but the face and head do not have the same buffer. The briers of the field would often take its toll on a sheep looking for some fresh grass.
Our Good Shepherd knows that our journey through this life has its’ bumps and bruises. The field has its’ thorns and thickets. There are also other sheep in the field and not everybody gets along. In fact, sometimes the deepest cuts and wounds can come from other sheep. The Good Shepherd not only feeds us, guides us and protects us, but takes care of us when we are injured. The anointing oil was for that purpose…to heal. The oil soothed the pain of the scratches. It brings comfort as the shepherd carefully applies it to the wound.
Are you in need of some healing today? Are there some injuries that you have sustained recently? Maybe a scratch or two from a relationship that is a little rocky? Or even a remark made by a friend that cut deeper than you expected or they intended. Maybe it is just the wounds of daily living in this “thorny” world. Whatever the source, come to the Shepherd.
He can tend to the tears and the hurts. Just a little oil to soothe the pain and start the healing. Aah…take heart…Jesus, the Good Shepherd is here for you. Bring your hurts to Him. He will take care of you. Relax and experience His love as He anoints your head with oil today.