The Protection of the Sheep

Tim Trumper

READ : Psalm 23
1 John 2:18-27

You anoint my head with oil. (Psalm 23:5b NKJV)

Oil predated sheep sprays. Shepherds used it to anoint the heads and horns of their sheep—the parts least protected by the woolly fleece. The process was both protective and medicinal, David’s mention of this practice follows on naturally from his reference to his enemies. On the one hand the oil gave off a repellant odor; on the other its stickiness served to catch the flies and the insects pestering the sheep.

Anointing with oil is another biblical picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. John, for instance, says Christians have “been anointed by the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). Anointed by the Spirit, the Lord’s flock possesses confidence that God intends in his love to protect and to heal. If we know this now when we have just the firstfruits of the Spirit, how complete will this protection and healing be at the end of the age once we receive a full measure of the Spirit’s influence?


Fear not, O little flock, the foe

who madly seeks your overthrow;

dread not his rage and pow’r;

What though your courage sometimes faints,

his seeming triumph o’er God’s saints,

Lasts but a little hour.

(Michael Altenburg [1584-1640])