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Anointing (2)

H A Barnes, Bromborough

Anointing kings

Samuel anointed Saul, saying, "Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?" (1 Sam 10.1). Kings thereafter were often anointed by prophets, as for instance Jehu (see 2 Kings 9.1-13). Although the physical act of anointing was carried out by a single person, it was often done on behalf of others. An example of this is the anointing of Solomon by Zadok on behalf of himself and Nathan (1 Kings 1.34,39). Sometimes the anointing was done by, or on behalf of, the nations of Israel or Judah. The expression used "anointed king over Israel" is the equivalent of the monarch being crowned in our day at a coronation. In fact, it was sometimes carried out along with crowning as when "they brought out the king’s son [i.e. Joash], and put upon him the crown…and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king" (2 Chr 23.11). Anointing was sometimes carried out by popular support, so for instance "the people of the land" appointed Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23.30), and we have the interesting parable when "the trees went forth…to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us…And the bramble said unto the trees, if in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow" (Judg 9.8,15).

The anointing of a king was also seen as being carried out at God’s command and on His behalf as the Anointer, being accompanied by such phrases as, "Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel" (2 Kings 9.3,6,12), and David was told, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel" (2 Sam 12.7; see 2 Sam 23.1). We also read about "Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab" (2 Chr 22.7). The practical outcome was that Samuel, who had anointed Saul, later told him that "the Lord anointed thee king over Israel" (1 Sam 15.17). This notion of divine selection is clearly illustrated by Samuel’s anointing of David, because when he found him he said, "Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him" (1 Sam 16.6), and then, "the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he" (1 Sam 16.12). The human side is seen, for instance, with Absalom, who is referred to by the people as him "whom we anointed over us" (2 Sam 19.10).

The divine purpose of being anointed king was that "the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance" (1 Sam 10.1), and "thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel" (1 Sam 9.16). Those anointed were then described as the Lord’s anointed (2 Sam 22.51; 2 Chr 6.42; Ps 18.50; 20.6; 28.8; 84.9; 89.38,51; 105.15), since "with my holy oil have I anointed him" (Ps 89.20). God’s choice of king also extended to Gentile kings, since He is Lord of all the earth (Josh 3.11,13; Zech 6.5), so we read, "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him" (Is 45.1), and this agrees with Romans 13.1, which tells us that "the powers that be are ordained of God".

Sometimes kings were anointed twice. In the case of David, he was first anointed king over Judah, and then over Israel, so, "the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah" (2 Sam 2.4,7), and subsequently "all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron…and they anointed David king over Israel" (2 Sam 5.3). Then we read that the "Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel" (1 Chr 14.8; 2 Sam 5.17). In the case of Solomon, "they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him unto the Lord to be the chief governor" (1 Chr 29.22) following the original emergency coronation because of the insurrection of Adonijah (1 Kings 1.35). Divine protection was promised to the anointed, and this was respected by virtuous men - "the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed" (1 Sam 2.10) - and sedition against "the Lord’s anointed" was a serious matter (1 Sam 26.23; 2 Sam 19.21). Hence David’s respect on many occasions for king Saul: "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord" (1 Sam 24.6,10; 26.9,11,16; 2 Sam 1.14,16,21).


We read about anointing prophets in an interesting context, for Elijah was told by the Lord to "Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room" (1 Kings 19.15,16). So, God’s choice extended not only to kings and prophets over his own people, but also for the nations around, and even to Satan in his original state, when he was described as "the anointed cherub that covereth" (Ezek 28.14).

The Messiah

The Hebrew word Messiah (and its Greek equivalent Christ) means the Anointed One, and of Him it is said: "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows" (Ps 45.7; cf. Heb 1.9). Then we read that "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed" (Ps 2.2). We also learn that "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound (Is 61.1). The Lord Jesus selected this passage to read in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lk 4.16-19), and applied it to Himself. Peter substantiated this when he spoke of, "…thy holy child (servant) Jesus, whom thou hast anointed" (Acts 4.27), and stated that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" (Acts 10.38). The Lord Jesus was the true meal offering, "anointed with oil" (Lev 2.4), and in John 3.34 we read that "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him".

Direct references to the word Messiah are found in the prophecy of Daniel: "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (9.25,26).

To be continued.


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