By Erin Bird

Last week in our blog series on Psalm 23, we made it to verse 5, which says:

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

Because we looked at the first half last week, let’s talk about the last two lines this week: “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

God Gets Messy

In verse 5, David switched the language from pasture land (verses 1-4) to house language. Rather than talking about grass and still waters, David painted a mental picture of lounging at a table (while in the presence of enemies) as God prepared a meal.

David continues the imagery by talking about oil and cups.

Oil

In David’s day, it was customary to greet a guest to your home by putting oil on their head. Some biblical references give the idea of pouring the oil (such as Amos 6:6) while others give more of the imagery of a dab of oil (such as Luke 7:46) onto the person.

But why oil? Well, I think there were several reasons:

  • The people in David’s day enjoyed the scent of oil. Just like you might light a candle in your house before guests arrive, the anointing of oil upon someone’s head might have brought a pleasant scent to the room’s environment.
  • Oil was thought to have healthy medicinal qualities to it. To dab someone’s head with oil was to wish good health upon them.
  • Oil was somewhat expensive. To pour oil on someone’s head would be a sign of abundance, as if to say, “I have so much oil, I can lavish some upon you because you are important to me!”

So if putting oil on someone’s head was a sign of abundance, David keeps the idea going when he talked about his overflowing cup.

Cups

The standard drink at a meal like the one David is describing in verse 5 was wine. Like oil, wine was slightly more expensive than everyday items, so it, too, was given to guests as a sign of abundance and letting your guests know how much they matter to you.

Yet David doesn’t just have a full goblet of wine– his cup overflows! In the presence of enemies who wish harm upon him, David watches God continue to bless him, not just with a greeting of oil, but by pouring out so much wine that David’s cup overflows. That’s how much God loved David.

So as David sits in the presence of his enemies waiting upon God, He sees the blessings. He’s been touched with oil. He has an overflowing cup. He can see that even in the presence of evil, God’s blessing is still upon him.

Blessings & Viruses

Right now throughout the entire world, there are people panicked. Some healthcare workers are pulling double (and even triple) shifts. Hourly waged workers are wondering how they are going to pay their mortgage as their places of employment close temporarily. Parents are trying to figure out what to do with their kids who have had school put on hold. And the news about governmental responses to the virus seems to keep changing every hour.

But what if we stopped looking at the presence of our enemy (the COVID-19 virus), and pulled a David by looking for the blessings? What if we shifted our attention away from that which wishes us harm to what God has already abundantly provided? What if we…

  • stopped to realize the forced seclusion might allow us to finally spend time in the Scriptures?
  • saw the time at home with our children as an opportunity rather than a burden?
  • realized this was the perfect opportunity to serve an elderly neighbor?
  • picked up the phone and called someone we haven’t connected with in a while?
  • realized that no matter what happens with this virus, Jesus is still the King who died on the cross for our sins, and nothing can take that away?

So may you actually find rest this week in the abundance God has given you in the midst of these uncertain days. May you have a change of perspective because of God’s goodness shown to us through Jesus. And may you look for God’s blessings in these crazy times.