VIDEO The Best From Psalm 23: Anointed With Oil

You anoint my head with oil. Psalm 23:5


Over a hundred years ago, William Evans wrote a little book about Psalm 23, in which he said: “A shepherd must be a physician also. In the belt of the shepherd, medicines are always carried. Sheep are very susceptible to sicknesses of many kinds…. Ofttimes at night as the sheep passed into the fold, the shepherd’s knowing eye would detect that one or another of them was sick and feverish…. He would take the feverish sheep and… anoint the bruise with mollifying ointment.”[1]

Olive oil was the shepherd’s great secret. He used it for making and dipping bread, for fuel for his lamp, as a lotion, and as an ointment for his own wounds and those of his sheep. A few drops of the lubricating fluid would relieve the hurt of a cut or bruise.

The Bible compares the Holy Spirit to oil. The Good Shepherd anoints us with this precious oil, and the Spirit’s invisible ministry to us gives us nourishment, brings a radiance to our face like a lotion, and heals our wounds.

Rely on the Spirit’s ministering work today.

The metaphor of oil—the visible and tangible liquid poured upon and absorbed by a human being—tells the invisible presence and action of the Holy Spirit.
John McKinley

[1] William Evans, The Shepherd Psalm: A Meditation (Glasgow: Good Press, 2021).

Psalm 23 • The Lord is my Shepherd

Reaching Out

He reached down from on high and took hold of me. Psalm 18:16

In a recent post, blogger Bonnie Gray recounted the moment when overwhelming sadness began to creep into her heart. “Out of the blue,” she stated, “during the happiest chapter in my life, . . . I suddenly started experiencing panic attacks and depression.” Gray tried to find different ways to address her pain, but she soon realized that she wasn’t strong enough to handle it alone. “I hadn’t wanted anyone to question my faith, so I kept quiet and prayed that my depression would go away. But God wants to heal us, not shame us or make us hide from our pain.” Gray found healing in the solace of His presence; He was her anchor amid the waves that threatened to overwhelm her.

When we’re in a low place and filled with despair, God is there and will sustain us too. In Psalm 18, David praised God for delivering him from the low place he was in after nearly being defeated by his enemies. He proclaimed, “[God] reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters” (v. 16). Even in moments when despair seems to consume us like crashing waves in an ocean, God loves us so much that He’ll reach out to us and help us, bringing us into a “spacious place” of peace and security (v. 19). Let’s look to Him as our refuge when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life. 

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt overwhelmed by trials? How did God sustain you?

Heavenly Father, there are times when my burdens become too much to carry. Thank You for continuously reaching out to me, sustaining me, and granting me Your peace, strength, and wisdom.

For further study, read When the Going Gets Tough: Finding Hope and Joy in Our Trials.

Grace on Display

Even the worst of sinners is welcome to receive God’s extravagant mercy and love 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Paul described himself as the worst of sinners and as someone to whom the Lord had expressed His favor and love (1 Tim. 1:16 NIV). How could he be both? That’s the power of God’s grace: Though sinners, we become spiritually alive and receive a new purpose for living.

After Paul met the Savior, he cared deeply about those who did not yet know God, and he also desired to help Christians grow in their faith. For the rest of his life, he shared the gospel, encouraged fellow believers, and met the needs of others. He acted as God’s ambassador to the Gentiles, and his letters became biblical wisdom for future generations. 

Through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, Paul began to display more and more Christlike qualities. In his writings, we see compassion, great humility, and appreciation for God’s blessings. Only the grace of God could enable a well-educated and influential man to count all his credentials a “loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). 

Paul’s life is an example of God working through sinners and transforming them. The Holy Spirit seeks to do the same for you and me. Are you allowing God’s favor and love to work within you? 

Hear, O My People

“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me….open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:8, 10)

This psalm was evidently used as an introduction to one of Israel’s feasts and begins on a note of joy (vv. 1-4) and a reflection on God’s sovereign provision for the people (vv. 5-7). But then it merges into a warning not to leave the God of their fathers, sternly reminding them of the commandment “there shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god” (v. 9).

Such rebellion grieves God. “So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (v. 12). When we will not go His way, He does not abandon us but does allow us to go our way. He permits us to learn hard lessons by our own folly, lessons that He would rather have taught us gently while in fellowship with Him.

“Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries” (vv. 13-14).

He reminds us that He is capable of meeting all our needs, of every sort. “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (v. 10). The imagery used here is that of a mother bird feeding her otherwise helpless young. They are dependent on her for all their needs, even life itself.

Jehovah invites us to wholeheartedly trust Him for all our needs. His reservoir is boundless; how much He gives to any one individual depends only on how much we allow Him to give. He adjures us to open our mouths wide so that He can abundantly fill them.

May God develop in us not only “wide mouths” but also the faith to trust Him for abundant provision. JDM

Three Kinds of Burdens

Matthew 11:28-30; 23:1-4

THE burden business has been misunderstood and overworked by all too many believers. There are those who invent extra loads and devise all sorts of excess luggage—who think it a mark of exceptional piety to slave through life with uprolled eyes beneath a ton of baggage. Such souls mistake their own petty burdens for the cross of Christ and moan dismally about their load. Job said, “I am a burden to myself,” and so are these self-appointed martyrs. What a dour time one has trying to live with such specialists of gloom, who never have learned that the spirit-life is not weights but wings!

The Master spoke of the Pharisees, the orthodox religionists of His day, as binding heavy and grievous burdens and laying them on men’s shoulders, while they themselves would not move them with one of their fingers (Matt. 23:4). Many there are whose religious life is only a dull routine of formal observances, the shadow without the substance—”faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null”—a ritualism without redemption. A load instead of a life!

The Word speaks of three kinds of burdens of which we must dispose. There is, first, the burden we share. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Whatever we lift lifts us, and as we get under our brother’s load with him we find that our own is lightened. The early church had all things in common. We have departed somewhat from that early church ideal, but we, at least, ought to have in common those burdens which we can share.

Then, there is the burden we bear. “For every man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:5). There is no conflict here with the other verse just above, as so many have supposed. Here Paul is speaking of our load of personal responsibility, which no man can saddle off on someone else. There are obligations which no other man can carry for us.

But the highest summit, the burden we forswear, is reached in Psalm 55:22: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.” That reminds us of 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” How many trust God with their souls but never with their burdens. The conquest of care is not a matter of fighting them but of surrendering them! Victory here begins with surrender.

Nor is there conflict between bearing our own burden of responsibility and casting our burden upon the Lord. While there are obligations we must assume, we must remember that God carries both ourself and our burden. So, the whole load is His; yet, there is a load that is ours.

The lightest hearts are not those who acknowledge no responsibility but those who share and bear burdens, trusting in the Lord. The tracks on the main railroad lines stay shiny, for they bear burdens; the sidetracks are rusty, for few loads come that way.

Paul says this burden-bearing is “the law of Christ.” But that means no heavy and irksome thing. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy.” Now a yoke is not an extra burden but a device to make the burden light. Our faith is not to be lugged along as an extra obligation, like our insurance or taxes; rather, it makes life portable.

Finally, the Master said, “My burden is light.” That sums it all. His requirements are not heavy and enslaving. Indeed, He invites all the heavy laden to Him to find rest. For His Law brings liberty. “The truth shall set you free.” “And you shall find rest unto your soul.”

“He teacheth my hands to war.”

Genesis 14:1-3, 10-24

Genesis 14:10-12

All is not gold that glitters. Lot had made a poor choice after all. Those believers who conform to the world must expect to suffer for it. For the sake of gain Lot went to Sodom, and now he loses all at a blow: if we are too careful to grow rich, the Lord can soon impoverish us.

Genesis 14:14

If our relatives desert us we must not desert them. Lot left Abram but Abram did not forget Lot.

Genesis 14:15-16

Thus whether in peace or war faith made Abram the victor; but, alas for poor Lot, his worldly conformity was not cured by his trouble, for he went back again to Sodom to reside in it. He was vexed by the sins of the city, but he loved the ease of its settled life.

Genesis 14:17, 18

When we are weary with fighting the Lord’s battles, we may expect that Jesus will appear to our refreshment.

Genesis 14:19

The Lord Jesus never meets his people without blessing them: his lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.

Genesis 14:20

To our great Melchizedek we cheerfully offer of our substance. Melchizedek was rightly a receiver of Abram’s temporals, since Abram had received of his spirituals.

Genesis 14:21

He felt no interest in what was passing between Abram and Melchizedek, but broke in upon their holy intercourse with his secular business.

Genesis 14:22-24

What the king of Sodom offered was Abram’s due by the laws of war, but he would not take it. Sometimes it. is right to waive our rights. Abram felt that God could give him all he needed without his being beholden to the king of Sodom. Faith is royally independent of man. She will not give the world an opportunity to stop her glorying in the Lord. Jehovah All-sufficient is enough for us without our leaning upon an arm of flesh.

King of Salem, bless my soul!

Make a wounded sinner whole!

King of righteousness and peace,

Let not thy sweet visits cease!

Come, refresh this soul of mine

With thy sacred bread and wine!

All thy love to me unfold,

Half of which can not be told.

Hail, Melchizedek divine;

Great High-Priest, thou shalt be mine;

All my powers before thee fall;

Take not tithe, but take them all.

Unsung but Singing: The Unappreciated Christian

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19

To value the esteem of mankind and for Christ’s sake to renounce it is a form of crucifixion suffered by true Christians since the days of the apostles. It cannot be denied that the way of the cross is unpopular and that it brings a measure of reproach upon those who take it.

The learned historians tell of councils and persecutions and religious wars, but in the midst of all the mummery were a few who saw the Eternal City in full view and managed almost to walk on earth as if they had already gone to heaven. These were the joyous ones who got little recognition from the world of institutionalized religion, and might have gone altogether unnoticed except for their singing.

Unsung but singing: this is the short and simple story of many today whose names are not known beyond the small circle of their own company. Their gifts are not many nor great, but their song is sweet and clear!

John Milton lost his sight and mourned that loss in the third book of his Paradise Lost. But in spite of his affliction he refused to be desolate. If he could not see, he could still think and he could still pray. Like the nightingale he could sing in the darkness “… as the wakeful bird Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid, Tunes her nocturnal note.”

We are never sure where a true Christian may be found—and the busy world may actually not even know he is there—except that they hear him singing!