Whatever You do for God, Do it All with Gusto! Because He “Anoints” Our Heads With Oil and All of Our Cups Overflow! Psalm 23:5, Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Psalm 23:5 New International Version

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10New International Version

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

In this psalm, we see a beautiful portrait of God as our good and faithful Shepherd Who leads us by still waters and guides us into the way of peace.

He is, indeed, worthy of our worship and praise.

He is the One Who upholds and protects, Who blesses and comforts, Who bountifully provides good things for us in the presence of our enemies.

Enemies, up to and including ourselves as our own worst enemies.

And He is the One Who intercedes for us in heavenly places.

The picture is painted in this well-loved psalm of David, is that of our faithful God, our merciful and gracious Saviour, our good and caring Shepherd Who keeps us, protects us, provides for us through all the changing scenes of life.

Our faithful, and merciful God first identified Himself as Jehovah-Jireh, our gracious Provider, to Abraham when he was halted, by the Lord, from offering up his son, first born son, Isaac, as his sacrifice of abiding love and obedience.

And throughout both testaments, we discover God as the One Who provides rain and sunshine for the earth, nourishment for the flowers and ravens, a father for the fatherless, a righteous judgment for the widow, a friend for the friendless.

Our faithful God is the one who fed the hungry multitude, provides comfort for the broken-hearted, gives succor to the weak, strength to the weary, hope to the afflicted, salvation to all who trust in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, for while we were yet His enemies, grievous unrelenting sinners, God in His grace provided a Kinsman-Redeemer to save His people from their sins.

Our good and loving God supplies all our needs, according to His riches in glory, through Christ Jesus our Savior.

And here in this well-loved and oft-repeated psalm of David, we discover:

“The Lord has prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies. He has anointed our head with oil, our cup of overflows with His goodness and love.”

Though we may be afflicted on all sides… pressured, perplexed, and persecuted for righteousness sake, we are not forgotten nor abandoned by our Heavenly Lord… for Jesus is with us always and forever, even to the end of the age.

He has prepared a table before us, in the presence of those that hate and despise us, He has covered it with all we need and every spiritual blessing – which He Himself had purchased for us through His own life’s blood, on Calvary’s Cross.

Though we live in the combat-zone of this fallen world system, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and the peace of God which guards our hearts in the midst of an abundantly, severely crooked and perverse generation.

The anointing oil that is being continuously poured over our heads is the soothing ointment of His incomparable never-ending love.

It is a precious promise to all His children, for we have been made kings and priests and prophets of the living God – and have an eternal guarantee that His Word is faithful and true and all of His promises are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Christ.

Surely, in the company of all of God’s angels and with David we can proclaim,

“My cup of blessing runneth over,” for His grace is limitless, His love is boundless, His charity and mercy endures from one generation to another.

Why such an inconceivable magnitude of maximum Joy?

Because together, in the presence of our Great Shepherd, we have just seen, and envisioned and witnessed and can now testify to all the prophetic descriptions of heavenly places like green pastures, quiet waters, and paths of righteousness.

By the Word of God for the Children of God, our heads have been anointed with His oil of abundant life and incomprehensible love and now our cups overflow.

We have seen through the Word of God for His Children, the strong, steady hand of the ever vigilant shepherd at work with his shepherd’s rod and staff.

By the Word of God for His Children, We have received the invitation to the table of the Lord which is prepared for his precious flock before our enemies.

And now there is one more activity we need to plumb, to see in this final scene.

“He Anoints My Head With Oil”

This may seem like an odd custom since it is something that never occurs much anymore in our own time and culture, in our faith traditions and in our church.

Maybe this custom of pouring oil over the head needs a little more explanation.

First of all, we are not talking about the kind of oil that comes from petroleum.

The 1st century people in the Bible did not drill any oil out of the ground, they did not even know what petroleum oil was, nor would they have any use for it.

So, please do not think at all about oil in the Bible as anything like we use today.

We are not talking about motor oil; it’s not the 5W-30 synthetic blend you find at the Valvoline shop or any local vehicle repair establishments down the road.

The region around the Mediterranean is perfect climate for growing olive trees.

The most common oil in Israel was olive oil used for cooking.

There were also other plant-based oils used mostly as perfumes and medicines from such sources as myrrh and nard.

It is probably the closest equivalent to what we use today as “Essential Oils” (if you are familiar with the use that term).

Let’s also remember that the people back in Bible times did not all have showers in their homes, and there was no such thing as shampoo and perm in that time.

The use of fragrant oils in their hair was a common way of what people in that day would have considered basic hygiene.

Not that people would do this every day as we might consider hygiene to be part of our regular habits; it was more the mark of a special occasion in their time.

Putting fragrant perfume in hair was considered part of the expectation to be presentable before coming to a party, other type of important social gathering.

That’s the launching point we are taking today in order to consider how this last scene of Psalm 23 applies into our world today.

Jump with me, then, to the Book of Ecclesiastes for another brief glimpse at how this cultural custom of ointment poured in a person’s hair shows up.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 New International Version

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Perhaps it is helpful to explain that anointing with oil had several other uses and meanings in the Bible.

This may help clear up any confusion for people who may be familiar with many of the other places in scripture that anointing with oil occurs.

It shows up as a medicinal practice for healing since they thought that fragrant oils had significantly positive medical benefits.

It also shows up as a symbolic declaration of royalty; kings would be anointed as a part of the Coronation sequence.

It also would take place as part of the burial ritual whenever somebody in those ancient of days and that time passed away.

I do not think the anointing with oil mentioned in Psalm 23 has anything to do with these functions of ointment.

Context of Psalm 23:5 makes it clear anointing with oil is understood as basic hygiene people would do as preparation for joining a special social occasion.

And this is certainly the same function of anointing we see in Ecclesiastes 9:8.

For this devotional today, then, let’s dig into what is happening in these few verses in Ecclesiastes as a way of helping us understand what David means by this scene in which the shepherd is seen anointing his flock of sheep with oil.

Ecclesiastes can be a difficult book of the Bible to contextually understand.

I can see where this passage from chapter 9 might be easily misunderstood.

At eye level the way it comes at us translated into the English language, it might seem like a kind of an off-putting and depressing outlook on our everyday life.

One big proverbial hardcore slap in the face saying “You might as well just go eat your dinner because your meaningless, ridiculous life isn’t going anywhere else.”

Of course, through revelation from the Holy Spirit, there’s definitely something much different going on in this passage; and it is not have a depressing outlook.

The key here is that we cannot get hung up on a few English words which don’t do the best job of conveying to readers all the richness of the Hebrew language.

Let me pull at two examples of difficult Hebrew words in Ecclesiastes, and one Hebrew word from Psalm 23.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, our NIV Bibles repeat the theme of “meaningless” over and over again (an eye popping 33 times) throughout the entire book.

Other English translations use the word “vanity” as the repeated theme.

The Hebrew word is hebel.

It literally comes from the same Hebrew root as “a breath.”

Hebel carries with it the nuance of being incredibly insignificant or extremely momentary.

I would say that in the context of Ecclesiastes, the word “momentary” would be a much better English word to use in order to capture what the wisdom writer is really trying to say about the experience of human life when compared to God.

It is not that life is meaningless in the sense that human life has no purpose.

It is more the point of Ecclesiastes to show human life is so very momentary when placed in comparison and contrast directly next to the eternity of God.

Hang onto that one. we will pull it back in a minute to consider how the brief and limited experience of human life plays into understanding this passage.

The other Hebrew word in Ecclesiastes I want us to consider here is heleq.

The NIV translates this into English as “lot.”

Verse 10 says that our lot in life and in all our toilsome work is simply to enjoy our family and a meal.

I think the word “lot” might just make it sound like a random fate over which we have absolutely no control.

An English dictionary defines lot as fate, predicament, plight, or doom.

It is generally considered a negative thing.

But this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word heleq.

It refers instead to something which we can better be defined as “portion, distribution, allocation, or share.”

The wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes is pointing out that even in this human life which is so very momentary and comparatively brief next to the eternity of God, in grace, Jehovah Jireh still freely, gifts, gives out a portion/share of goodness.

The writer of Ecclesiastes identifies this portion/share of goodness from God coming in the simple little things of life.

Enjoying the blessing of good food and drink in the company of family and friends is the example of goodness to which the writer refers in this chapter.

And about these simple enjoyments, the wisdom writer says in verse 8.

Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 

Here again, the wearing of bright clothing and pouring of fragrant ointment in the hair is an expression of a special social occasion.

This kind of celebration didn’t happen every day.

But the point of Ecclesiastes here is to say treat every single day like that.

Life is so very momentary, take each new day as a precious gift from God.

And each new day which we receive from God contains the portion/share of his blessing for us to enjoy.

Treat every single day as a singularly unique, singularly special example of God’s grace, because these unique and special examples of God’s grace show up most often every single day in the simple, most ordinary little things of life.

Look at how Eugene Peterson translates these verses from Ecclesiastes in his Message version of the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10The Message

7-10 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

This is why verse 10 can go on to say, in a more contemporary sense: “Go ahead! Do not fear! Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for God.”

“There is only one way to go, in whatever you do for God,

Whatever You Do For God … Just Max it out! Go for the Gusto!

Do not ever underestimate exactly how much God is right there with you even in the small or inconsequential, ordinary or less than ordinary, things of this life.

How frequently do we fail to realize, or do we take for granted the ways in which all of the tiny simple blessings, the miracles of each and every day stack up to be a never ending stream of Jehovah Jireh’s faithful and abiding provision of grace.

But, the often unspoken truth of the matter is we do miss it because so often we will see these things as so tiny and ordinary and insignificant and momentary.

Yet this is exactly the place in our everyday lives where God chooses to meet us.

Even though Ecclesiastes points to this daily provision of blessing as our “lot in life” (our portion/share), it stacks up day after day, week after week, and month after month, year after year becoming an extraordinary gift beyond measure.

Our proper place then is to see each new day as an extension of that gift from God. “Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.”

Always treat each and every new day as a remarkably special gift from God.

Bringing it back to god and Psalm 23 now.

The seventh and final scene is one of embracing the LORD as our shepherd each and every day.

It is a recognition of just how incredibly remarkable it is that the eternal creator of the universe who have existed forever and ever beyond our brief momentary lives, that this God, Jehovah Jireh chooses to make himself our shepherd.

That Jehovah God redeems us in his love which, through grace, portions itself our to us each and every day.

Here’s a secret.

The word anointing never actually shows up in Psalm 23.

Yes, I know we have been focusing this entire last scene on a line from Psalm 23 which says he anoints my head with oil.

The Hebrew word for anointing is mashach.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/1ki/19/16/t_conc_310016

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h4886/kjv/wlc/0-1/

But that’s not the word which David uses here in Psalm 23.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/psa/23/1/t_conc_501005

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h1878/kjv/wlc/0-1/

It is a much more obscure Hebrew word, dashen, which only shows up eleven times in the entire Bible.

Most of those times it is translated into English as “fatten” or “make fat.” It carries the idea of making something bigger or more abundant.

Do you see what David is actually saying here in Psalm 23?

The LORD is my shepherd who dashen [anoints?] my head with oil.

No; we are to understand that it’s far, far, more deeper than that.

The LORD is my shepherd who dashen [abundantly pours out an excessively lavish amount] of oil upon my head.

Contemplating the depths of David’s heart and soul at its writing, perhaps this is why David chose to finish the verse of Psalm 23:5 with “my cup overflows.”

Let’s find an application by connecting these two passages from Psalm 23 and Ecclesiastes 9.

Perhaps we all find ourselves from time to time stuck waiting for something better.

Like so many of you, I’m waiting right now for a time when we can all have more economic certainty, lower inflation rates, better housing markets.

I would love to be able to fulfill a life long dream of building a log cabin for my retirement from plans my late father drew up when he was preparing to retire.

He never got a chance to fulfill those dreams because he got sick and died.

I would love to fulfill that legacy for my family, but interest rates are too high.

Maybe it’s waiting for our health to stabilize, a job promotion; maybe it is waiting to be done with school; maybe, like me, it’s waiting for retirement.

We can always make a million excuses why we might think the ‘real’ anointing of God’s blessing in our lives has not yet arrived.

We get trapped into thinking the anointing of God’s blessing is some kind of heavenly lottery which at some point is going to just dump upon us because scripture tells us that the blessing of God is extravagantly abundant.

So that’s what we expect: extravagant abundance.

And then real life intrudes and our lives are stuck waiting for it to “unstuck.”

Scripture is not wrong. God’s blessing is extravagantly abundant.

But what we should also see from scripture today is that the blessing of God is portioned out to be exactly what we need for each and every day.

The extravagant abundance of God’s blessing is not something for which you have to wait.

You and I have got it already.

You and I are receiving it right now.

And God constantly weaves his blessing into all the tiny ordinary pieces and places of everyday life.

The poet of Ecclesiastes says,

“whatever your hand find to do, do it with all your might.”

Do not miss the opportunity to treat each and every new day as a miracle gift from God filled with exactly what it is you and I need from God, to live in his will and thrive abundantly as a disciple of His Son and our Savior Jesus.

It may look small and ordinary and insignificant and momentary.

But day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year it piles up into a lifelong testimony which declares:

Psalm 23 Amplified Bible

The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.


He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.


He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.


Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.


You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with [b]oil;
My cup overflows.


Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

The whole Psalm 23:5 experience serves to strengthen our faith, draw us closer to our heavenly Father, and to envision and realize just how faithful He truly is.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for Your Word and the comfort and strength it gives me. Thank You that You are my Shepherd and my Provider. Thank You that You are with me through the darkest days as well as during the sunny times, and thank You that You have provided all that I need, according to Your riches in glory. Thank You that You are my God and Saviour. You have, indeed, prepared an overflowing table before me in the presence of my enemies and have anointed my head with the oil of abundant, eternal gladness. My cup overflows with Your never-ending blessings, for which I give praise and shout “thank You!” In Jesus’ name.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

https://translate.google.com/

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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