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I. Understanding the significance of the images David is presenting.
A. David is actually picturing the pastures that are reached by travelling through the dark valleys.
1. The tablelands are the most prized areas for grazing and a good shepherd desires to take their sheep there.
2. These areas a normally barren during the winter but during the summer months they come to life.
3. Although these places were hard to reach, the shepherd would make the effort to get their sheep there because of all the benefits.
4. This may seem like a lot if wasted effort. Couldn’t the shepherd find places for his sheep to graze without going through dangerous valleys and climbing mountains?
5. The shepherd could but it would not be the best pastures for his sheep. In fact, even modern shepherds seek out these mesas for their sheep’s summer quarters.
B. The anointing with oil actually refers to the way shepherds would protect their sheep from flies and parasites.
1. As the weather begins to warm up the pesky flies start to return.
2. Flies are especially hazardous to sheep because they often seek to lay their eggs on the soft moist skin of the sheep’s nose.
a. The larvae when they hatch look like thin white worms.
b. They invade the sheep’s nasal passages and begin to bore into the tissues.
c. This causes a lot of pain and inflammation for the sheep.
3. The sheep will hit their heads against the ground or trees to try to find some relief.
4. In extreme cases sheep will actually try to kill themselves to gain relief.
5. Ancient shepherds would cover the heads of their sheep with a mixture of olive oil, sulfur and spices to protect their sheep from the flies.
6. Modern shepherds still use a similar mixture made of linseed oil and sulfur.
7. The shepherd needed to be diligent in making sure that their sheep were treated with oil on a regular basis because one time would not do the trick.
II. Understanding the Lord’s provision that David is thinking
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