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You Anoint My Head with Oil

You Anoint My Head with Oil

Editor’s note: Psalm 23, the beloved song written by King David, is the foundation for K.J. Ramsey’s new book The Lord Is My Courage. Enjoy this exclusive excerpt.

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When David envisioned God’s feast and welcome, where God anoints him with oil, I imagine his heart swelled with remembrance of the day he was first anointed, chosen by God not just to be an honored guest but to be Israel’s king.

Chief in the tradition of self-protective leaders, Israel’s first king, Saul, had decided his means of achieving God’s ends were better than the means God had instructed. The details of that story aren’t critical for ours — but what we need to see is that Saul chose to ignore God’s instructions to lead his people, just like so many leaders do today in choosing expediency over obedience, taking on business models of growth instead of honoring Jesus’ words that the Kingdom of God comes like the smallest of seeds and only grows with the self-sacrifice of being split open.

Because of Saul’s disobedience and arrogance, the Lord regret- ted making Saul king and instructed Samuel to anoint another.1 He sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem, where he consecrated Jesse and his sons who were present. Samuel took one look over the oldest, who probably looked tough and tall, and thought, “Surely this is God’s chosen king.” But the Lord nudged Samuel to look farther than what shines, instructing,

Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.2

One by one, God rejected all of Jesse’s sturdy, strong sons, until finally there was no one left. So Samuel asked Jesse if these were all of his sons, and Jesse replied that there was one more, the youngest, who was out tending the family’s sheep.

The baby of the family, overlooked and left out in the field to watch the flock — David was the one God chose. Samuel took his cone of oil and let it drip over David’s skin, tan from days spent in the sun watching the family’s flock with devotion.

Before David had done anything amazing — before he slung a stone to slay a giant or led armies to advance in victory — God decided to anoint him as king.

  • We are anointed, not for what we have done but for who we will become.

Like Christ in the Jordan, consecrated as God’s Beloved Son before He did a miracle or gave up His life, we are named Beloved before courage comes.

  • Scripture is one long story of ordinary people being named into extraordinary courage for the sake of love.

Before they had any children, beyond the time when anyone could have imagined they even could, God renamed Abram and Sarai as a mark of who they would become — Abraham and Sarah, the parents of a nation through whom the whole world would be blessed. Before their unbelief, before the terrible ways they tried to coerce the promise to come by abusing Hagar. Naming precedes the courage to trust that God’s promises will come. When scarcity ripples fear through us that God’s goodness may never materialize, naming stretches past our self-sufficiency and self-protection.

  • Our naming enfolds our brokenness into the beauty of who we and this world will become.

When Simon the disciple recognized Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus renamed him Peter, meaning “rock,” and said he would be the rock on which He would build His church — a church whose foundation is so sturdy not even the gates of hell can overcome it.3 Jesus named Peter the rock, even though He knew Peter would betray Him not once but thrice. Jesus saw the whole of who Peter would become, and He named him for this wholeness.

  • Courage Himself names us with a love so strong that even our weakness and wounds are woven into the irrevocable goodness of who we will become.

Evil assaults us in the place of our anointing. It is always leveraging the pride and pain of others to curse our confidence that we are beloved by God.

We need rituals to remember our true name, to hear past our shame, to, like David, relish the memory and scent of anointing oil on our skin in a way that strengthens us to stand stronger than all pain.

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Evil will always try to convince us to live numb and nameless. Evil will always curse us as too small, too young or too old, too wounded, or too unwanted.

David imagines in Psalm 23 that God anoints his head with oil in a display of lavish welcome. God so welcomes you, even when others have chased you away or exiled you, as Saul did to David.

Just as David was chosen when everyone in his family counted him as too unimportant to introduce to the prophet Samuel, you are not too small to be significant. Just as Peter was named the rock before he would struggle to stay faithful, even your struggles cannot stain your name. Your anointing is a gift given not for what you have done but out of God’s love. Divine love ensures who you will become.

This is what I know: the betrayal of another cannot take your belovedness away. Darkness cannot steal your inheritance. Evil cannot revoke your anointing.

The Kingdom of God is here. This is still your Father’s world. Beautiful and brutal things will happen to you and those you love. But do not be afraid. God never leaves us without a witness or a name.

  1. 1 Samuel 15.
  2. 1 Samuel 16:7.
  3. Matthew 16:15–19.

Excerpted with permission from The Lord Is My Courage by K. J. Ramsey, copyright Katie Jo Ramsey. 

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Your Turn

You are not alone in your loss or grief. You are not left unanswered by God when you have questions or unloved by Him when the unimaginable happens. “Scripture is one long story of ordinary people being named into extraordinary courage for the sake of love.” You have a purpose and a future and God calls you Beloved! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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