Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.
The shepherd has brought the sheep safely back to the village. As they pass through the gate to their pen he carefully and tenderly examines each one. Only their face and ankle area are exposed, so he checks to be sure there are no little scrapes or stings from brambles or flies, using oil to gently soothe affected places. Mrs. Eddy defines 'oil' in the glossary of Science and Health as consecration, charity, gentleness, prayer, and heavenly inspiration. Did you notice how the pronouns changed from the early part of the psalm? Now it is personal. From talking about the shepherd, now the sheep is talking directly to him, speaking intimately to their beloved keeper. Once the oil has been applied a transformation takes place in behavior. Gone is aggravation and irritability. The sheep can lie down peacefully for the night. Taking a moment to be with our Shepherd as we settle in for the night can remove any of the stings and irritations from our day, allowing us to be soothed for a night of peaceful rest.
In the Bible anointing is not limited to sheep. People are anointed with oil prior to spiritual service. Anointing is not about pouring a solution over someone's head, it suggests a moment when the power of divine Love comes into play to control the 'pests' that bother us, causing pain or the discomforting sting of criticism. Only Spirit can quiet the irritations of life and create contentment and an awareness of God's presence.
The shepherd then gives each sheep a cup of cool water, filled to the brim. As followers of the Shepherd we should be seen as the most contented people on earth. We know that the Good Shepherd is able to cope with all our human needs, good or bad. Our cup, our lot in life, is a happy one that overflows with benefits.
The next entry will finish up this Psalm and our visit with the Shepherd.
Go in peace.