In the Bible, spikenard is described as a very costly oil, which was stored in expensive alabaster jars (or boxes, as it was referenced in the King James version). Spikenard was typically kept in these jars to preserve the oil for special use.
In ancient times, nard oil, as it is also called, was highly recognized for healing. Moreover, spikenard is very aromatic, as well as soothing when applied topically. So back then it was used as an ointment, perfume and even to anoint priests, kings and high initiates.
In scripture, the alabaster jar or box was usually broken in order to access the oil. For a woman, breaking the box symbolized breaking free from the past. Furthermore, by anointing her Lord with the oil, she was not only humbly expressing her devotion to him, but also courageously unveiling herself.
Spikenard is essentially referenced in the Bible as both a symbol of love and devotion, as well as of sanctification and authenticity.
The following are the four instances where the oil is mentioned in the Bible:
1. Spikenard is mentioned in the beautiful poetry of King Solomon. Spikenard is among a list of oils, fruit, and chief spices used to describe the essence, fruitfulness and the flowing waters of love.
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
– Song of Solomon 4:13-15 (KJV)
2. It is also the oil used to anoint Jesus. In this verse, a woman (whom some believe to be Mary Magdalene) breaks the box and pours spikenard oil on Jesus’ head in preparation for His crucifixion and burial. This type of preparation was customary during these times.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
– Mark 14:3 (KJV)
3. The oil is referenced in another Song of Solomon verse. This time Solomon utilizes the oil as both an indication and a metaphoric symbol of the woman (bride) who has made herself ready for her husband.
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
– Song of Solomon 1:12 (KJV)
4. Last, but certainly not least, spikenard is the oil used to anoint Jesus’ feet at the home of siblings Mary, Martha and Lazarus. There the siblings held a dinner in Jesus’ honor. This was after He had arrived there in Bethany for Passover. We can figure that Jesus’ feet were tired from his trip. Therefore, the Bible tells us that while Martha served and Lazarus sat with Him and other guests, Mary chose to anoint Jesus’ feet with spikenard oil, and then wiped them with her hair.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
– John 12:3 (KJV)
So finally, two questions (please disregard if you have already done this):
What is being stored in your Alabaster box? And when will you break it in the presence of the Lord?