Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oily Noggins

Some time ago I remember reading W. Phillip Keller's "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" - a classic and amazing read to understand all the nuances that King David meant when he penned this most well-known psalm, full of faith and confidence in God.  

One of the lines in the psalm says, "You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over."  Keller explains that in the Middle East, shepherds put oil on a sheep's head and rub it into the wool and even down inside the ear openings.  They do this for a couple of very good reasons.  

First, flies are a horrible problem for sheep.  On a hot day, the flies can buzz inside the sheep's ears and not be able to get out, just make that infernal noise and cause all kinds of tickling from the movement they make  - which drives the sheep absolutely nuts!  They scamper about shaking their heads, not looking where they are going, and could easily hurt themselves.  The oil actually repels the flies and the ones that do get caught, suffocate in what oil there is left behind in the sheep's ears. 

Second, sheep have this annoying habit of establishing a pecking order.  They do this by butting heads with one another.  Especially the ewes (females)!!  They can actually cause each other's heads to bleed, drawing flies and inviting other types of bacterial and viral infection, by doing this.  The shepherd anoints their heads EVERY DAY with oil so that when they butt heads (and they will) the oil makes the blows slide off - - it deflects them just enough to not allow the sheep to make each other bleed.

He then draws the parallel with the Holy Spirit, for oil is a well-known symbol of the Spirit of God, used widely in both Old and New Testaments.  

When we allow the Good Shepherd to douse us really well with the Holy Spirit - rubbing Him in, allowing us to soak in that Presence DAILY, the little annoyances that the enemy sends our way don't bother us as much and our spirits can rest.  And when we enter into conflict with other believers (because face it, we're human and we won't always behave ourselves), if we are soaked in the Spirit and relying on Him, He doesn't let us hurt each other as we interact. 

I would recommend this old but still powerful book if you haven't read it already.  If you have, then why not give it a re-read? Here's a link to be able to purchase the book for cheap on Amazon if you are interested: 

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