Gladness of the Best

Michael Wilcock

Read: Hebrews 1:5-9

God . . . has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. (v. 9)

In previous lines Herbert has written about “joy” and “bliss”; now he adds another word, similar in meaning though with its own distinctive flavor, namely, “gladness.” But of all his metaphors I find this phrase “gladness of the best” among the most intriguing. What might have suggested it to him?

One “gladness” text that links Old Testament and New is Psalm 45:7, quoted in today’s reading from Hebrews 1. The psalm is a song composed for a royal marriage, and what it says about the king, the royal bridegroom, is in Hebrews applied to Christ. We can take what you might call a stereoscopic view of the two texts, superimposing one image on the other, and before our eyes there stands out three-dimensionally the picture of God the Son anointed by God the Father in a ceremony that is suffused with gladness.

And what makes this the best kind of gladness? What qualifies Jesus to receive this anointing from his Father?

It is that he has “loved righteousness and hated wickedness” (Heb. 1:9). It’s as simple as that. Except that he has come into our lives with a total commitment to the one and a pitiless enmity to the other, on a scale that we cannot comprehend. And we can readily see the bearing this has on our prayer lives. It will be with unbounded confidence that I shall bring my prayers to such a king. —Michael Wilcock

Prayer: With what gladness do I bow before you, Lord Christ, my King and my God.