As we meditate on this beautiful Psalm, we need to remember that it is recounting the life of a shepherd and his sheep. Here again, we see the wording that a shepherd would have great understanding about~ anointing the sheep’s head with oil. Why?
At the time of summer, when the shepherd has his flock on the higher grounds, with the abundance of pasture and clear running streams, there is a pest that attacks~ the fly. The shepherds refer to summer as “fly time”. Hordes of insects emerge with the warm weather and they create misery in the life of a sheep: bot flies, warble flies, deer flies, gnats, heel flies, nose flies. These flying insects can cause a summer of torture for the flock. Because of the distraction of these unwanted pests, sheep will try to relieve themselves by beating their heads against trees, rocks or posts. They will rub in the soil and thrash around against brush. Some sheep become frantic with panic and may run around in circles, or hide in the brush or woods. Some may even refuse to graze in the pasture.
The tender, loving shepherd will prepare an anointment (oil) at the first sign of “fly time” and apply it to the sheep’s head. An incredible transformation occurs~ no more aggravation, no more restlessness. The sheep begin to resume their normal “sheep” behavior.
Just as with sheep, we must be anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit to keep the “flies” from pestering us. We need a continuous anointing of the Spirit~ He is ever present to create peace in our hearts, no matter what irritating flies try to cause us torment. The Spirit of God can form in us the mind of Christ. He imparts the attitudes and fruit of the Spirit as we abide in Him. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul encourages us to “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”. That word “be” is in a present-tense state in the Greek, meaning to continuously fill; be being filled. We could reword the verse by saying, “continuously be being filled by the Holy Spirit”. In this daily anointing by the Spirit, we are transformed more & more into the likeness of Jesus~ joy, patience, peace, gentleness, generosity, kindness, self-control, faithfulness, contentment, holiness, etc.
For the sheep, his head would be near the shepherd as he applied the oil/anointment. Is your head near Your gentle shepherd? Do you draw close to Him so His Spirit can be smeared all over you?
John 15 speaks of another metaphor. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains/abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5. We are to be a people marked by abiding in Christ. As we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit (our cup overflows). But apart from him, we are like those sheep beating our heads into a tree. We can do nothing apart from Jesus.
The word “abide” or “remain” appears eleven times in John 15. To abide is an action! It is not passive. This is the key to a full cup~ a cup that runneth over. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy (thief) comes to steal, kill and destroy (this is represented by the “fly time”; flies are symbolic of demonic activity). BUT Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full (overflowing; spilling over).
Lay your head near the Spirit of the Living God and let the oil flow over you in His presence.
“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows…”