“You anointed my head with oil” Psalm 23:5b

The depth of meaning we can uncover in the Scriptures when reading in the original language is really astounding! Every now and then, I come across verses that have been translated one way in English, but their meaning has been weakened by the translation.  This week’s verse, Psalm 23:5b, is one of these verses.  In Hebrew, one can find a very interesting meaning to the words “you anointed my head with oil”.  The Hebrew reads: “דִּשַּׁ֖נְתָּ בַשֶּׁ֥מֶן רֹ֝אשִׁ֗י”, which is traditionally translated into English as “You anointed my head with oil.” However, after much study and thought, I discovered this is a clearer way to translate the phrase: “You fertilized my head with oil”.

The word “דִּשַּׁ֖נְתּ” (deshanta) has a few ways meanings, which together will give us the depth that we need to understand what I believe David meant here.  The three meanings of deshanta are:

  1. Oil (food)
  2. Ashes.
  3. Fertilizer.

In Scripture, ashes always symbolize death or mourning. In ancient times, when people were in mourning, they would put ashes over their heads. A well-known example is found in the book of Esther, when Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and doused his head in ashes once he discovered the plot to kill and destroy the Jewish people:

“When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly.” Esther 4:1

The third meaning of the word deshanta is a bit strange because we don’t usually use it in reference to people.  Fertilizer is a material used as food to help with the essential growth of plants, i.e. to give nourishment and life to the plant.  Yet, when one puts everything together, I believe the meaning of this verse is that instead of putting ashes of mourning, a symbol of death, David acknowledges that the Lord has “fertilized” his head; God has given him the nourishment for growth in his life’s calling, for that which he was anointed!

David knew that he could trust His Shepherd to not only take him to a place of comfort and peace, to not only protect him in times of trouble and provide him with food in hard times even in the presence of his enemies, but also to provide him with the nourishment necessary for his life’s purpose.

We can be encouraged by this for our own lives!  Do you trust God to equip you and sustain you for His call on your life? Do you count on Him to provide all you need for each day?

In closing, I would like to point out a prophecy of a time that we can look forward to, and also perfectly sums up what I wrote in this blog entry:

“To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

Shabbat Shalom,


Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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21 Comments on ““You anointed my head with oil” Psalm 23:5b”

  1. This has try blessed my life. I was lead right to this based on my cry to the Lord for answers I was deeply seeking. Thank you SO much for allowing God to use you to pen such an anointed writing!!!

  2. I knew there was something more to that phrase ‘he anoints my head with oil.’ Thank you for that explanation, it’s lovely. What a gift you have been given to know and understand Hebrew and the richness of the language.

  3. God was speaking to me this morning about 2019 and about His purpose for my life. He kept saying over and over again ‘Anoint your head with oil. Anoint, anoint, anoint!’. I was sitting and praying in the Spirit that I would truly have the mind of Christ. Then I decided to do a study on what anoint really means and I came to this! How amazing that in searching for my life’s purpose I would discover this. Such confirmation! Thank you for taking the time to write this post. Bless you!!!

  4. So weird to have come here. I didn’t type this into google at all, but it typed it for me…and this popped up. Good encouragement, thank you. To God always be the glory. Amen!

  5. Very profound,I am on a journey to understand the deep meaning of Kind Davids Psalm 23 and what a revelation ,thank you so much.

  6. God bless your heart and the wisdom our Father has gifted to you
    I wouldn’t have understood it anyway better than the very spiritual insight you’ve outlined
    I’m blessed

  7. I’ve memorized Psalm 23 and have recited it many times, in trial and tribulation. Last week, I was in a very lengthy nuclear medicine scan to identify a possible return of cancer and I was saying this Psalm throughout the 3 hour process. The verse, “You anoint my head with oil” kept standing out to me and I felt a prompting to look further into the meaning of this. In the google search, I scrolled down and your post stood out to me and it’s exactly what the Lord wanted me to see!! Thank you for for your obedience in following the prompting of the Spirit to write this blog … it has blessed me and will bless many others!!

  8. This truth about ‘anointing your head with oil’ has given me a new hope in Jesus! I am rereading it, again and again. Each time waiting on the Holy Spirit to help me grow in a deeper understanding. I believe this article is a new truth to help me to grow in knowledge and wisdom; for whatever lies ahead.
    I do believe it is ALWAYS His will to bless us! There is no more loving Father than our God! It is beyond my understanding HOW Abba and Jesus could suffer SO for my sins (and of course everyone else that call Him, Son of God, blessed Redeemer). Thank you, for being an instrument in His blessing me.

  9. Praise God for this timely Word. Thank you.

    Like many of the others on here, this message helped to confirm what God has said to me. I was doing a teaching / speaking from Psalms 23 for the past five weeks. This week the focus is on verse 5 ; however before I could move any further. The Lord continues to impress upon me to look up “ He anoints my head with oil.”

    And just like our Faithful Father always does, He led me to the right place.

    Thank you, and Shabbat Shalom to you as well.

    Many Blessings,

  10. I enjoyed this so much. I was lead by the Holy Spirit to this sight. I had asked God what does that it mean ”thou anointed my head with oil? Now I have a better understanding of God purpose for my life. Thank you for letting God use you. Amen

  11. Thank you for the wisdom God has given you. I never really understood the importance of anointing myself with oil. My eyes and mind have been opened. Thank you. I Praise God for you.

  12. Excellent revelation on that phrase “Thou anoint my head with oil” It gives a much clearer understanding and is very relevant within the context of the passage. Thanks for your insight and obedience. It’s indeed a blessing to me.

    1. Thank you, brother! We are grateful for your feedback and that Moran’s insight to this scripture blessed you. Shalom!

  13. These comments remind us that we are not alone in our search for Truth and guidance from the Lord. Thank you so much for sharing what He revealed to you in your study.

  14. Interesting in-sight. I still see this as a reference to the anointing with the holy anointing oil which included kana-bos’m (canna bis oil) and was used to anoint Prophets and KIngs and later Christians.

  15. God bless you, and keep you. May His face shine upon you and keep you in perfect peace.
    Silver and gold have I none at this time, but as soon as God deliverer me out of this temporary drought, I will support your work.
    What you’ve written has given me great hope. It is with tears I sought the Lord for answers, and the Spirit of God gave me
    His Divine peace when read your blog. I thank God for His Spirit, He confirmed the hope I have in Jesus through you.

    Thank you for sharing God’s heavenly treasures with the world

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