Petty Distractions – Satan’s Subtle Weapon Against You

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5 NASB)

It was summertime, and the temperatures were rising quickly. The shepherd looked up the mountain and saw the nebulous, dusty cloud on its peak.

It would be another dry, dreadful summer in Judea.

He walked towards his flock, frowning while approaching the dirty sheep. The mosquitos and gnats that filled the Judean Mountains that time of the year were already plaguing the herd.

The sheep shook their heads, aggravated. They looked about, confused and unfocused.

The shepherd approached the herd – a bottle filled with the oily mixture in his hand. He walked around the sheep, pouring the oil on their heads, one by one, rubbing the greasy mixture into their wool. He took particular care to rub it around their nose, eyes and ears.

The mosquitos would soon leave the sheep alone to pasture… and follow their shepherd without distractions.

I imagine David remembered a day like the one I just described, as God gave him the words of one of the most cherished psalms in Scriptures.

We don’t know exactly when he wrote this psalm. Some scholars believe that he wrote it while hiding from his son Absalom in Mahanaim, because although he reminisces his time as a young shepherd, the psalm translates the experience of an older man who has endured persecution and imminent death.

Psalm 23 has a been a favorite for as long as I remember.


During my days as a catholic school girl, I remember reciting it and delighting in its poetic nuances. I memorized it for catechism, and read it on the open page of our large family Bible – a permanent display in my childhood’s living room.

It was my daddy’s favorite Psalm. It still is. And when I moved to America, I bought a little statue to remind me of its valuable truths.

But it wasn’t until the other day, when a friend pointed out this amazing visual, hidden in the words of verse 5, that I realized that God inspired David to use the imagery of a shepherd’s ritual to remind us that His anointing protects us from one of the most subtle schemes of the enemy against believers: petty distractions.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.


Indeed – God is in the business of protecting us from our mighty enemies, and promises to give us victory over giants. But that same God also offers to protect us from annoying, crippling distractions… {and sometimes, we don’t even realize how truly damaging they are!}.

You see – at first glance, mosquitos and gnats don’t look like more than simple distractions for the sheep, but the truth is, the result of their presence could range from simple irritation to disease, and even death.

Think about it for a minute. Let it sink in as David did while writing down these words.

How many Christians have you known, who have faced fierce battles and conquered mighty enemies, only to allow themselves to become distracted by annoying gnats that plague the flock?


Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. (Song of Solomon 2:15 – NASB)

Solomon reflects on the very same issue on one of his songs – this time reminding his Beloved to catch little things that ruin a life that is in bloom.

Gnats. Mosquitos. Little foxes.

Small annoyances, distractions and compromises that cause many Christians to lose heart, stumble and fall, get offended, distracted and discouraged. Small things that, if not attended, can cause Christians to become victims of a much bigger animal: the lion that prowls around, looking for someone he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Do you feel distracted today, my friend?


Maybe someone spread a rumor about you, causing your heart to be filled with anger and resentment?

Or perhaps you have allowed a small compromise to enter in – something oh-so-subtle – but that you know is distracting you from a walk of consistent faith and obedience?

Maybe you have a friend whose influence prevents you from seeking God’s best… or whose remarks make you doubt God’s calling for your life?

Or perhaps the enemy’s minions are filling your ears with the annoying buzz of distracting lies:

“You’re not worthy.”

“God will never use you.”

“You are not loved.”

“God did not really say….”

“Go right ahead. Follow your instincts… You’ve waited long enough.”

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.


If that is you today, let the shepherd-king remind you: God wants to anoint your head with oil.

Not only to equip, strengthen, and prepare you for battle… But his anointing alone has power to drive away distractions… those little gnats that threaten to distract you just enough to change the course of your destiny.

Let His oil pour down.


Let it pour down from Heaven above.

Claim it, receive it and let it seal your ears, eyes, nose… Let it seal your mind and heart from all distractions, that you may focus as you follow your Shepherd to the green pastures He has prepared for you.


Then, and only then, can you truly proclaim: My cup overflows.

Patricia Holbrook

Patricia Holbrook is the President of Soaring with Him Ministries, author, columnist, blogger and International speaker. Her passion is to encourage her audience to "soar above life's circumstances" by the power of God's Word and the Holy Spirit's guidance. She writes about making beauty out of brokenness, trusting God in the dark, the blessings of obedience and her love for the Savior. Among other places, you can find her writing weekly on her blog, on her weekend column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, on the iDisciple app, and websites such as Internet Devotions Cafe, among others. She writes in between car lines, homeschool lessons, tears and laughter. She lives in Georgia with her husband Steve, their two daughters and their miniature Schnauzer Jingle Bells.

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