Topical Bible Study Commentary: Anointing

I'm reviewing the Bible, topically A-Z. For the first week of January 2015, I reviewed the topic of Anointing. There are approximately 35 verses about this topic and below I share what my personal insights were from reading and meditating on these verses.
As a disclaimer, I am a fellow sojourner. I am not a Bible scholar in the professional sense. I simply study the Bible to gain insight for my own personal life. Below you will find my personal thoughts on this topic, which you are welcome to peruse for your own personal study.

1/10/15: Commentary by Maraya Pearson

Topical Bible Study Commentary: Anointing absolutely loved reading about the topic of anointing and there were several themes I noticed throughout this study. The idea of approval was a strong theme throughout most of the verses. Not only does anointing speak to God's approval but the verses stated that we can ironically use anointing to stop seeking man's approval. For example, the idea of putting oil (an allusion to anointing) on ourselves in times of fasting stops us from making a dramatic show of our fasting devotion for the eyes of men to see and approve (by going around looking deprived).

This paves the way to seek approval from God alone (Matthew 6:17).(Practical application #1: Seek approval from God, not from people). Also, I perceived from the reading that God wants to remind us that anointing is ultimately from HIM and cannot be forced by man. Take for instance how it takes God to produce olive oil. Man cannot force a harvest, no matter what preparations he makes and even if he owns the "means of production" or "capital" (the olive groves). Deuteronomy 28:40 speaks to how people owned the means of production, the olive trees, but the olives simply dropped off for whatever environmental reason. So ultimately, man is still totally dependent on God for all the environmental and societal factors to be present to achieve the harvest of olives (and hence their oil). (Practical application #2: This is a reminder that while our businesses and our preparations are necessary, they don't guarantee success and should not be what we pin our security to. God must also be in the equation).

I was also intrigued at the frequency with which the verses intimated that it was good for us to choose to put on oil, from a personal maintenance and appearance perspective. Perhaps when we present ourselves as polished on the outside, we are symbolically expressing our worth and value that God sees in us? The Bible also says not to make our exterior "everything" but it seems to say that it's right for us to take care of our exterior presentation, and even see it as something to take with us as we commune with God. Additionally, when David ends a mourning period, the first act he does is a ritual of personal maintenance with oil which he does as a precursor to seeking the Lord at the temple (2 Samuel 12:20). In similar fashion, Ruth (Ruth 3:3) anoints herself with oil / perfume before going to see Boaz (a type of Jesus in the Old Testament). Lack of oil is associated with deprivation and a sign of grieving and fasting, but Ecclesiastes 9:8 tells us to "always be clothed in white and always anoint" our head with oil. This metaphor speaks to being clothed not just with material clothes but with the glory and white brilliant light of God's divine favor and righteousness. "Always being anointed" speaks to me of the constant washing of the spirit over us - a reminder to be constantly conscious of God's love for us, as God's love and our relationship with Him is the highest quality (understatement) "oil" we can use. As God is our wisdom, having consciousness of His love (his oil on our heads) speaks to the connection between divine wisdom on our minds and our constant relationship with Him.(Practical application #3: It's ok and fitting to take care of our bodies. We must do this in the "natural" with basic care and maintenance of ourselves as well as in the spiritual by adorning ourselves with God's righteousness by claiming and receiving God's benefits / grace).

I also loved how in John 11:2, we get some insight into the question "if I'm serving the Lord and if I'm close to him, why do bad things still happen?" I find it interesting how the Holy Spirit makes mention in this verse of Mary being "the one who poured perfume" on the Lord during the retelling of the Lazarus story. It's inclusion serves as a reminder that we're talking about a story involving someone who was very close to God and serving Him but was still undergoing difficult circumstances (Mary grieved for Lazarus and was heartbroken that the Lord didn't appear to come in time). As we know, however, the last chapter of the Lazarus story ended in victory and celebration and Mary received immeasurable joy through the work of the miracle and a renewed faith in Christ as she witnessed his power over death. (Practical Application #4: Difficult circumstances will still happen to believers but ultimately, good will win. Even if at first something appears like a total defeat, a greater, unexpected victory will later triumph. So don't give up or lose hope).

In my quiet time I also got some revelations about that anointing scene at the Pharisees house - namely that Jesus may have been on the rooftop while Mary was "standing behind him" on the steps leading up to the room (how else can you anoint feet while standing up?). Also, this symbolic anointing for burial was being done in conjunction with the condemnation of the Pharisees, as a challenge to their evil, and to make a subtle, divine statement or message. Mary's expensive oil (but most importantly her love and devotion to Jesus as displayed by her tears) were anointing him for burial, right in the midst of when the hard-hearted haters were burying Jesus in their hearts. Perhaps that was the moment that the decision to kill Jesus was fermented in their minds, even if the final "act" wasn't executed then. Jesus said that murder happens even when you think an evil thought about someone, which certainly occurred at this scene in which he stated he was being "anointed for burial". I believe Jesus' decision to be "anointed for burial" right amidst the scene of hate makes a statement that Jesus had full knowledge of their burial of him in their hearts, was choosing the fate and that he would counter their hate with greater love and a greater anointing that would eventually defeat hate. (Practical Application: Jesus speaks powerfully but subtly through actions and symbols and you have to mediate and examine his actions to see the deeper meanings).

Another distinction that was made clear through the reading of these verses on anointing is that it's not the oil alone that pleases God. It is the oil / anointing on us that is pleasing. In the Song of Solomon, Solomon (a type of Jesus) tells his bride that her perfume on her is what is pleasing. Going back to the scene at the Pharisees house, this reminds me that when Mary poured the expensive nard / perfume on Jesus feet (the feet is symbolic that Jesus anoints even what the world would consider "lowly" or "dirty/dusty") that she wiped the feet with her hair, indicating that she also received the perfume / anointing on her hair, which speaks to a kind of double anointing which occurred. What Jesus would have loved, then, would have been his anointing on her!! Wow!! It is interesting to note that the hair is on the head an the many references to anointing our head with oil.

Another verse from this week is the familiar one from Psalm 23 "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." It is interesting to note that all of this is reminiscent of the Pharisees' meal scene, except that it's Mary (us, the bride of Christ?) who is anointed on the head. Christ's anointing flows from his feet to her. Hmm. Interesting. (Practical Application #5: We can claim the seemingly impossible benefit of his righteousness, honor and favor in our lives.) If that's the case, once again, WOW. This is the grace of God that we receive. It is what my pastor calls "undeserved, unmerited favor".

Another observation about this Pharisee meal scene is that it seems to speak of how when we choose to use our anointing it "spreads" and will become observable by others. For example, first Jesus was anointed on his feet. Then Mary received it on her hair, then the Bible tells us that the scent of the perfume filled the house and it was clear from the story that it was observed by the others at the house. As an aside, it is interesting that just because the anointing was observed, doesn't mean it was accepted by everyone and the difference involves the perception of Jesus. Mary accepted Jesus and sensed his love. But there were many more at the table that did not. The Pharisees were blinded by their interpretation (fueled by a defensive ego?) that Jesus' teachings weren't fresh revelations and opportunities for growth and a fuller and richer experience of God and life, but a threat to their positions as thought leaders, religious leaders, and societal influencers (which are a shell - dirty rags - compared to the alternative which they couldn't see). The perceived threat to the ego led to their physical retaliation against Jesus, which Jesus preemptively anointed himself for.

Now, this whole blindness theme speaks of another verse from this week's reading from Revelation (Rev 3:18) encouraging people to put Jesus' salve on their eyes so they can see. This harkens to the seeming paradox of Jesus' miracle of putting mud on the eyes of the blind man so he could see. In the natural world, wouldn't mud hinder sight even more? Wouldn't this salve on the eyes dim the eyes further? But apparently, it doesn't, because it isn't the natural eyes that must be engaged. In fact something ("fleshy"?) perhaps must be blinded (the ego? the teachings of the world?) before one can "see" and get a revelation of Jesus. The people who were downcast, the "lowly", seemed to see Jesus more clearly. Yet the ones the Pharisees and the "rich young man", who had more earthly riches (money and position) "at stake" couldn't see him as clearly. Therefore, anointing is also associated with spiritual sight in a sense. Our anointing will be sensed by the world (surely the perfume smelled lovely to everyone in the natural sense), but it won't be accepted by nonbelievers if those nonbelievers don't believe they are "in control" or "above", superseding in position, etc. such powerful anointing. The reason I say that is that the Pharisees egos must have clearly recognized they had no power of persuasion over Jesus. They were certainly not in control of his heart. This is evident with how Jesus openly refuted them, which was something they were probably entirely unaccustomed to. In a defensive posturing, they chose to perceive that the use of the perfume was a waste of resources and hastened to plot his murder, beginning with his condemnation in their hearts.

Now, it's interesting, to think about the Joseph story at this point. Joseph, the slave that would eventually rule Egypt, had an anointing that was observed by his "owner" Potiphar and Potiphar used him and put him in leadership positions in his household because it directly improved his household. Perhaps because Joseph was in the societal position of "slave", Potiphar didn't perceive Joseph's anointing as a threat to his ego (Potiphar still felt he was "in control", superseding in power, etc.) and was able to make use of him (as opposed to annihilate him). If the story of the Pharisees rings true for human kind, the interpersonal dynamic would have been different, however, had Joseph not been in the position of slave. Had Joseph been a free man, a societal equal or higher in position, rivalry and ego threats, and "murder in the heart" would have taken place. So perhaps your boss, who is an unbeliever, sees your anointing. He or she will likely put you in charge of many things, to further their own "kingdom" (their department or whatever) and will perceive gain, not threat. Your unbelieving colleagues (same or lower level) however will hate you while the believing colleagues will find fellowship and support.(Practical Application #6: As I search for the practical application behind all of this, I'm wondering if perhaps we must take what the world perceives as a "servant" position in order to fulfill the opposite (the actual leadership that we're called to do) to circumvent this fundamental barrier of ego opposition from nonbelievers?) As a perfect illustration, Joseph executed leadership and made a difference for the people of Egypt, serving as the top "servant" (outwardly) of Pharaoh as Pharaoh's second in command. I believe Joseph was truly the one in charge, but the societal position of "servant" was perhaps a necessary tool to execute that leadership.

It is interesting to note that Jesus clearly stated that he came "to serve". Was he perhaps stating it this way to further open the disciple's hearts to his leadership? (Ah, how bible study brings about so many concepts and things to think about! And I'm not even done recording my observations from the week... Onward!) Moving right along, anointing also leads to exaltation of communication, persuasive power and personal authority in the leadership of people. For example, David, the anointed king of Israel (or Judah I can't remember) was able to (with the technology of the day) to "mass communicate" his battlefield victories with the blowing the horn and the horn itself, the means of mass communication, had been "exalted" (Psalm 92:10). This communication was received by the people gladly (the people validated his leadership in their hearts because he had real authority in their eyes) and "oil was poured on his head" as a symbol of agreement and approval of his leadership. (Practical Application: Anointing helps with the delivery of leadership communications). During the reading about anointing, there were also clear references to the fruitlessness of toiling under "bondage", whether that be actual slavery or even bondage under wrong thinking or the bondage of separation from God. When people are under bondage, none of their toil or their labor comes to any benefit ("You will plant but not harvest, you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink wine". Micah 6:15). (Practical Application #8: This is fair warning that we must work to escape all bondages, both earthly and spiritual as without it we are deprived of all of the fruits of our labor and our work becomes utterly meaningless).

In the topic of oil, I did some research, and in those times olive oil was a huge part of society. It provided fuel for lamps, it was a healing / medicinal oil, it was used in cooking and it was used in personal maintenance (for the skin). Something which was so needed was also in plentiful supply. Israel was known to be covered with olive trees. They were very common. (Practical Application #9: This speaks to God's supply, his provision being, freely available and that access shouldn't be owned by anyone. If it's freely available, let's take it). The next observation from this week is the shining of the shields in Isaiah 21:5. A quick Google search of the use of oil on shields in biblical times show that this was done for a number of tactical reasons (a greased shield was considered harder for an enemies weapon to gain traction, keeping the leather from cracking, etc). However, the one that came to mind before researching was the concept of distraction. It is recorded in the Bible that there were some shields of that time made of metal. Would an oiled metal shield "glint" and distract the enemies? Not sure, but perhaps that is what our personal anointing does. It is a momentary distraction. Even Jesus was not immediately killed after the Pharisees saw his anointing. He "bought time", in a sense as they were distracted and confused in their hearts. (Practical Application #10: Put "on" the anointing of God as preparation for battle / life challenges). Anointing in several of the verses from this week (Mark 6:13, Isaiah 1:6, Luke 10:34, etc) also indicate that anointing from God is medicinal. The ultimate anointing, a belief in the saving love of God for us (faith), has been proven, even in medical science, to have an effect. In the book, The Healing Power of Prayer, two medical scientists (a Ph.D. and and M.D.) document what they observed in their medical practices and cull through the research on the correlation between faith and medical outcomes. Science has also observed a clear correlation between the "placebo effect" - the simple act of believing one is healed - and healing / recovery. It seems that the anointing is once again observable, whether or not people differ in their belief of what causes such results. (Practical Application: Believing you're anointed can change your outcome for the better). Well, these are the main observations that I made this week! Join me for next week's topic of Assurance here.

Home CEO Annual Topical Bible Study Plan

Each week in 2015, we'll be covering topical Bible Studies A-Z.  To access the current week's study and notes pages, click here.  

To access the archives of all past notes pages and commentaries, please login or signup for access to the Home CEO Online Courses portal here.

  • January 1-10, 2015 - Anointing (access archives)
  • January 11-24: Assurance (access archives)
  • January 25-January 31: Boldness (access archives)
  • February 1-7: The Call of God (access archives)
  • February 8-14: Care Over Much (overwhelmed) 
  • February 15-21: Character of Saints
  • February 22-28: Good Children
  • March 1-7: Decision 
  • March 8-14:Delighting in God 
  • March 15-21: Diligence
  • March 22-28: The Eagle
  • March 29-April 4: Faithfulness of God
  • April 5-April 11: Families
  • April 12-18: Favor of God
  • April 19-25: Foundation
  • April 26-May2: Glory of God
  • May 3-May 9: Gold
  • May 10-May16: Grace (1 of 3)
  • May 17-May23: Grace (2 of 3)
  • May 24-May 30 Grace (3 of 3)
  • May 31-June 6 Happiness in this Life
  • June 7-June 13 Heart Character of the Renewed
  • June 14-June 20 Holy Spirit Part 1 (the comforter, the personality of)
  • June 21-June 27 Holy Spirit Part 2 (the teacher, is God)
  • June 28-July 4 Joy Part 1
  • July 5-July 11 Joy Part 2
  • July 12-July 18 Good Kings
  • July 19-July 25 Language
  • July 26-August 1 Love of Christ
  • August 2-August 8 Love of God
  • August 9-August 15 Marriage
  • August 16-August 22 Mercy of God
  • August 23-August 29 New Birth
  • August 30-September 5 Parents
  • September 6-September 12 Peace Part 1
  • September 13-September 19 Peace Part 2
  • September 20-September 26 Power, of Christ
  • September 27-October 3 Prayer, Answers to
  • October 4-October 10 Privileges
  • October 11-October 17 Riches Part 1
  • October 18-October 24 Riches Part 2
  • October 25-October 31 Righteousness Part 1
  • November 1-November 7 Righteousness Part 2 (Imputed)
  • November 8-November 14 Seeking God
  • November 15-November 21 Trust
  • November 22-November 28 Thanksgiving
  • November 29-December 5 Wisdom (of God)
  • December 6-December 12 Wives December 13
  • December 19 Works December 20-December 31 Christmas Story

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