Sunday, November 21, 2021

Psalm 23 - Part 6 - Anointed Head, Overflowing Cup

 Often, I don't sleep very well.  I have a hard time getting to sleep, and I regularly wake up in the middle of the night and then have a hard time getting back to sleep.  One of the things I've found recently that helps me get back to sleep is to meditate on different excerpts from the Bible.  I've been rather fixated on the 23rd Psalm for a while (and my success rate of falling asleep after thinking about it has been pretty good), so I thought I'd do a series of posts on my thoughts on it.  This is part 6 of my 'meditations' on Psalm 23.  

You Anoint My Head with Oil....

I'm not a shepherd, and I never have been.  While I've heard that oil can be helpful on a sheep's head, I don't claim to know that for a fact, so I won't get into that here as it doesn't mean much to me personally.   This phrase does speak to me about a couple of things: resources I need, but that are beyond my ability to control, and the value of 'anointing' to David.

Even in this day and age, both oil and water are valuable resources.  What kind of oil was this - vegetable oil or some petroleum based oil?  Where ever it came from, it was likely purchased by the shepherd.  Since the shepherd anoints my head with it, that means I must also have an intrinsic value to him.  A comforting thought, even if I don't entirely understand the practical use for oiling a sheep's head.

Being 'anointed' had a symbolic and powerful meaning to David.  He was actually anointed to be king and lead God's people (in ceremony) three separate times.  His first anointing was performed by the prophet Samuel.   King Saul was also anointed by Samuel and because of that David wouldn't touch him.  Multiple times Saul tried to hunt David down and kill him, and David wouldn't touch Saul because 'he is God's anointed one.'  I recently re-read the story of David's life in the bible and one of the things that struck me was how adamant (frustratingly stubborn) David was in this conviction of not touching Saul, 'God's anointed one'.  At least, if I was in David's group of men, that's how I would have felt about it.  Clearly though, David believed that God's anointing carried with it a strong connotation of God's authority and protection.  

My Cup Overflows

I've been recently intrigued by imagery in the Bible of overflowing springs, wells, and cups.  The Garden of Eden was watered by a river that split into 4 rivers and watered things.  Where did that river come from - the ground perhaps?  Twice God provided water for the Israelites in the wilderness by means of a spring of water from a rock.  The city of Jerusalem was built around the Gihon Spring (Gihon means gushing), and once David became king he made Jerusalem the capital.  In John 4:13-14, Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well and says, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  And finally the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, chapter 22 talks about Eden being restored and a river flowing from the thrown of God.

An abundance of water - overflowing spring of life

Considering the value of a resource like water in a place like the Middle East, particularly for animals like sheep, the symbolism of an overflowing cup is extraordinary.   A valuable resource in abundance, provided for me!  Not just for drinking, but washing, and swimming.  Perhaps this also gives me an indication of what the table that God prepares for me looks like?

Oil and water don't mix...

I've made the assumption (hopefully a safe one) in this meditation that the 'overflowing cup' in this Psalm is overflowing with water.  If that is true, one could say that these two valuable resources are drawn from opposite sides of a spectrum, because oil and water don't mix.  Yet, the Holy Spirit in the Bible is represented at different times as water and/or oil.  I haven't really delved into the significance of all that, but thought it was interesting.

Other posts in this series:

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Lost and Found... With God

My First Time Being Lost

Getting lost for the first time can be traumatic for small children, but I think its actually more traumatic for their parents.  The first time I remember being lost I was about 5 and my family and I were moving to Vancouver Island.  My Dad was already working there and my Mom, my brother, and I were catching the ferry on our move to be there with him.    

These are not small ferries. The ferry we were on had multiple car decks, probably holding 150+ cars and 500+ people.  I loved ferry rides as they were a nice break from all the driving and still something of a novelty and adventure for us.  

Towards the end of this particular trip we heard the expected announcement telling everyone to return to their cars, so I calmly headed back to our car on the car deck with a crowd of other passengers.  After going down a couple of flights of stairs towards our car deck, I realized that my Mom and brother were not with me.  I thought 'I'll just stop here and hold the door open for everyone coming down.  Surely Mom and Paul will come along soon.'  But they never came.  

After several minutes of holding the door for everyone else, the crowd started to thin and I began to wonder where my Mom and brother were.  Just then a crew member showed up and asked if I was Perry McKenzie.  I said 'Yes' and she replied 'Oh good!  You better come with me then.  Your mother is pretty worried about you."  I followed her up to the captain's office where I was surprised to find my Mom in tears and quite relieved to see me safe and sound.

Now as a parent, I understand the concern, emotion, and potential perils of having a child missing on a large ship like that.  Puts a whole different spin on being lost.  I know - one of the first things a parent does in those situations is pray and ask God for help.  I'm glad God showed His faithfulness to us in that situation: protecting me, keeping me in good spirits, and helping me get found.  

Lost and Found - A Different Perspective

Its interesting to consider that the first question asked in the Bible is God asking Adam and Eve where they are.  Adam responds saying that they intentionally hid from God because they were naked and afraid. Sin separates us from God and makes us fearful and ashamed, like Adam and Eve.  The Bible says in Romans "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God",  so we all come into this world spiritually lost and separated from God - thanks to Adam.  

Jesus came to fix that, and find us.  He illustrates this in several stories you can read about in Luke 15:  The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son.  What I find interesting in these stories is the literal 'happy ending.'  The searcher is super happy at finding whatever was lost, and in two cases, throws a party!  Its so special to know God is intently looking for us lost souls and once found, He's so happy in the restored union with Him.

A Real Escape - Journal Early 2020's

The Escape The Horse and His Boy from C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia was one of my favourite books to read as a child.  With a book a...