When ancient Jews read of “the Anointed” in Psalm 2:2 they thought of their king. This is because “The Anointed” was another name in their vocabulary for their “King” ever since the priest Samuel anointed Saul with oil to show he’d been chosen by God as Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1). Later, when Saul disobeyed the Lord, David was anointed to be king in his place (1 Samuel 16:13). From then on, “the anointed” referred to “the king” in Israel.
Yet we also see in the Old Testament a prophetic “anointing” – that is, an anointing not to rule, but to preach. Thus Isaiah writes:
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
Jesus read this verse in his hometown synagogue (Luke 4:14-30), claiming that very prophetic anointing as his own. The hometown crowd rejected this idea (as is usually the case with prophets in their hometowns – a point Jesus memorably made in verse 24).
Peter confirms in Acts 10:38 that the anointing in question was in fact the Holy Spirit. Jesus did minister under the anointing as a prophet. He demonstrated that he was the prophet prophesied by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), and he walked in the path of the prophets as indicated in passages Acts 8:26-35 and the one from Luke mentioned above.
Therefore, when we read prophecies of an “anointing” with the Spirit in a prophetic context (e.g. Isaiah 61:1; 42:1; 11:2), and then read prophecies of an “anointed” in a royal context (e.g. Psalm 2:2; 18:50; 45:7) we should recognize that they come together in Jesus Christ and refer to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in his life.
The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)