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‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.’
David hasn’t necessarily stopped using the sheep imagery. A shepherd had to prepare the pasture land for the sheep, not least in going on ahead to make sure that noxious and poisonous weeds were cleared out. The anointing with oil too took place with sheep. One problem for sheep was the infestation of flies which would get into the mucus membrane of the nostrils where they would lay their eggs, and so the larvae would drive the sheep to distraction. In order to protect them from this the shepherd would make a mixture of olive oil and medicinal herbs and rub it over the sheep’s head. This is all part and parcel of the care and protection a good shepherd would afford. For David it had a further meaning because as the promised King, his head was anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel. David could never get over such divine generosity to him.
Similarly our Shepherd King does the same with us. There is the sanctifying work of the Spirit with which God anoints us. Over time he works in us so that we become less and less attracted to those things which would ruin us and become more drawn to ways and habits which are more Christ-like - the truly anointed one (which is what Christ means).
The ultimate satisfaction is yet to come, v6, ‘Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.’ Our shepherd, the Lord Jesus is determined to get us home to be with him for ever. He has staked his reputation on it and given his life to make it so- having laid down his life for his sheep only to take it up again.
Lord Jesus, you are taking me to the feast of all feasts — the wedding feast of the Lamb; but long before that Day, you, yourself are my portion, banquet and feast — Bread from Heaven, my nourishment and satisfaction. Though enemies threaten, you feed me, anoint my life with your grace and Spirit, and cause my cup to spill over with blessings, for the benefit of others. Amen