Olive Oil for the Soul
Updated: Jul 13, 2022
The last blog entry discussed how olive oil can potentially be beneficial for good health, specifically heart health and dementia. In this entry, I will mention a few examples of how olive oil is referenced in the scriptures to benefit soul health. In both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek scripture, “oil” and “olive oil” are biblically considered interchangeable. I will take a certain amount of poetic license to describe the soul benefits of olive oil; the Bible writers often did the same when writing passages that were true on multiple levels.
People are made up of body, soul, and spirit. Anything that affects one dimension of a person affects all three. Scripture mentions all three and how they are intricately intertwined (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
In particular, the soul is commonly considered to be made up of the mind, will, emotions… the invisible aspect of a person that is rather difficult to measure in a test tube or with a microscope or through lab tests or x-rays…the personality… the inner you.
How might olive oil benefit the soul? Obviously, if a person likes the taste and flavor of olive oil as a cooking tool, consuming olive oil will bring a certain pleasure. Also, just knowing that olive oil in the diet might help heart health and dementia, a certain satisfaction might be experienced in the soul of an “olive oiler” (obviously my made-up word). Another—the Bible uses multiple references regarding oil being used for practical utility in business (including burning oil in lamps for light and also being used as a valuable commodity of trade); having enough money to pay the bills brings a measure of peace and contentment (Matthew 25:3-8; Luke 10:34,16:6). Elijah and Elisha both did olive oil miracles to financially bless people (1 Kings 17:8-16; 2 Kings 4:1-7). There was apparently a certain olive oil refreshing (freshening-up) that a person could do for guests as visitors entered their home (Luke 7:46 MSG). Psalms mentions oil having a soft and soothing effect (Psalm 55:21).
Here’s a fun one: The Bible uses the phrase oil of joy (gladness) in at least three references (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV; Psalm 45:7 NASB; Hebrews 1:9 NIV). A release of joy and gladness can be associated with the flow of oil. This reference (and the others mentioned) of oil benefitting the inner soul also interacts with and benefits the innermost spirit man (to be discussed next time).