Meanderings

OIL: The Comforting Power of the Spirit

Scripture: "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah" (1 Samuel 16:13).

Observation: Jesse first anointed Saul King of Israel at the people’s request. Late in Samuel’s life he mourns that Saul is not the king that God desired for the nation. God comes in the moments of despair and says "Go to Bethlehem and visit Jesse and among his sons is the new king." Samuel fears for his life — anointing a new king while the king is still on the throne is an act of sedition — but he is obedient to the LORD’s call.  The following are the Hebrew definitions of key words:

  • Samuel = a prophet of Israel = literally "his name is God," he listened/obeyed God
  • Saul = the first king of Israel = literally "desired"
  • Bethlehem = literally "house of bread" and future home of Solomon’s store house
  • Jesse = literally "I possess" or this is a person of substance
  • Eliab = Jesse’s oldest son = literally "my God is father" or this is God’s man
  • Abinadab = Jesse’s second son = literally "my father is noble"
  • Shammah = Jesse’s third son = literally "astonishment" or better yet, a waste!
  • David = Jesse’s last (forgotten) son = literally "beloved"

Jesse present Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and seven other sons to Jesse.  Jesse is impressed with each one, but the LORD (YHWH) is not. In exasperation, Samuel says "is this all your sons?" Jesse finally remembers that David is taking care of the sheep. When David appears the LORD whispers to Samuel "Here is my man!" Samuel anoints David and the Spirit of the LORD descends upon him.

Oil is used in scripture as a sign of "strengthening or consecrating for service."

  • Moses anointed Aaron: "He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him" (Leviticus 8:12, see Psalm 133:1-2).
  • Samuel anointed David: "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah" (1 Samuel 16:13).
  • Jesus began his ministry with Isaiah’s claim: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed
    me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release
    to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the
    oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor" (Luke
    4:18-19, see Acts 10:38).

Comfort is meant for strengthening ("thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" Psalm 23:4) and our Comforter’s name (parakletos – Counselor, Advocate, Helper) is from old French word "confort" which was derived from the the Latin "confortare" which literally means to "strengthen completely."

  • Sampson after hearing a lion roar was strengthened: "The spirit of the LORD rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart barehanded" (Judges 14:6).
  • The early church experienced a inward fortification and
    strengthening: "Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and
    Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and
    in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers" (Acts 9:31).
  • Many Puritans named their children "comfort" by calling them Noah,
    which literally means "rest," but also pointed to one who stood up to
    the world for God (see Genesis 5:29).
  • "Roy Pearson tells of an old tapestry depicting William the
    Conqueror urging his troops into battle by presenting his sword to
    their posteriors.  The caption reads: ‘William Comforts His Soldiers’"
    (Leonard Sweet, New Life in the Spirit, 1982, p. 23, see the Bayeux Tapestry which depicts Williams defeat of Harold at the Battle of Hastings – 1066).

The Holy Spirit gathers us in comfort so that we may go into the
world to stand against evil by proclaiming the good news of the Way,
the Truth, and the Life found in Jesus Christ.  The Spirit’s comfort
picks us up and sends us forth strengthened for service in the world

5th City Preschool song:

I am always falling down, but I know
what I can do. 
I can pick myself up and say to myself, ‘I’m the
Greatest’ to. 
It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small.
I live now if
I live at all.
I am always falling down, but I know what I can do.

NOTES:

Oil (shemen – H8081), oil (elaionG1637), anoint (mashach –  H4886), anoint (chrioG5548), comfort (nachumH5162), comfort (parakaleoG3870, paraklesisG3874, paramutheomaiG3888, paramuthiaG3889, paramuthionG3890, paregoriaG3931 ), comforter (parakletos, G3875) comfort together (sumparakaleo, G4837) in Strong’s Concordance.

Oil , anointing, comfort, and comforter in Nave’s Topical Bible.

Oil , anoint, and  comfort in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

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