The Lord is truly our Great Shepherd, and there is no one more qualified to tell us about tending to sheep than young David when he wrote the poem, Psalm 23, which beautifully captures the essence of God’s endearing love for His children.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quite waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Those who have tended to sheep will tell you that they are not the smartest of animals. They are timid, meek, and helpless with no means of self-protection requiring meticulous care from their caretaker. Founder of Precept Ministries, Kay Arthur, shares in her devotional book, Beloved: From God’s Heart to Yours, that if sheep do not have constant care of a shepherd, they will go the wrong way, unaware of the dangers at hand. They have been known to nibble themselves right off the mountainside and will overgraze the same land running out of food unless the shepherd leads them to new pastures. If they are not led to proper pastures, they will obliviously eat or drink things that are disastrous to them. Sheep easily fall prey to predators, and when they do, they are virtually defenseless. Also sheep can become cast down, and in that state they can panic and die. Therefore, because sheep are sheep, they need shepherds to care for them.
The welfare of the sheep depends upon their Shepherd.
It is hard to come up with an animal that cannot defend or take care of themselves in some form or fashion, yet Philip Keller explains in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, that sheep will not lay down and rest unless they are completely satisfied in hunger, feel safe and protected in the care of their shepherd, are free from friction with other sheep, and last but not least, are not infested with or distracted by pests or parasites.
Therefore, sheep are not capable of taking care of themselves.
Numerous times in the Bible God refers to His people as sheep. He calls us the sheep of His pasture in Psalm 100:3, shares that He will both search for His sheep and seek them out in Ezekiel 34:11, and that He will feed His sheep in John 21:17. What comfort there is to know that amongst all our shortcomings, helplessness, and sometimes our stubborn-headed ways, God designed each of us in a way so that we would eventually see our need for Him.
That is how He made us.
The Word tells us in Isaiah 53:6 that “we all, like sheep have gone astray, every one of us to his own way,” and in John 15:5 that “apart from God, we can do nothing.”
How thankful I am, Friend, that when we personally know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Shepherd, we get to lay down in His abundant green pastures and experience His glorious rest.
My prayer for each of us today comes from Hebrews 13:20-21, which says, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
May we all listen intently to the voice of our Shepherd and find refuge under His care.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
From my nest to yours,