The Shepherd and the Sheep
~ The Shepherd
~ The Sheep
~ The Voice of the Shepherd
~ The Art of Listening
~ The Lost Sheep
~ The Path
~ Living as His Sheep
The Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23. A very familiar, memorized scripture. So familiar we may be able to recite it while not even realizing what we are saying. Have you ever found yourself doing that? Singing along with the radio to a very familiar song, but actually thinking about something else, and not even know you’re singning. I have done that – many times in the car! Singing so loudly, and the words are spot on, and there comes a point when I realize I have just been singing along, but my mind was totally somewhere else. How does that even happen? The song was THAT familiar! Sometimes meaning gets lost in what becomes so familiar. Let’s try and recapture the beautiful meaning found in Psalm 23.
When Jay and I were in Israel, the picture of a shepherd took a completely new form in my mind. By definition, a shepherd is someone who tends, herds, feeds and guards sheep. My first-hand present-day visualizations of a shepherd and sheep here in Ohio is a picture of a fenced in area with fresh, lush green grass where the sheep can roam around, often no shepherd is in sight. Or, for those of you who have seen the movie, Babe, there’s a certain image you can take away from there as well. But, what I saw in Israel may be a more accurate depiction of a true shepherd. The shepherds we saw were literally walking, leading and guiding a flock of sheep through rocky, rough terrain, most often along the side of a hill or mountain. This shepherd fulfills the role of tending sheep. He must be mindful of the terrain, of the best path to reach a green patch and a source of water. He is trusted and followed because He knows the way.
As I was doing some reading on shepherds, I came across a description in Wikipedia that caught my attention, “Shepherds lived apart from society, being largely nomadic”. These men were focused on the task of shepherding. They had to be flexible to move around and lead their flock to various places through the changing of seasons. This picture of shepherding reflects the type of work done by shepherds such Abraham, Jacob, Moses, King David, Amos and many more. It was a common profession. Perhaps that’s the reason that God and Jesus are referred to as a Good Shepherd from Genesis all the way through Revelation.
It is clear that our Shepherd carries His job of tending, herding, feeding and guarding His sheep seriously. Over and over scripture emphasizes the promise of His shepherding skills. He is qualified and capable to know when it’s time to move His sheep to green pastures. He knows where fresh water can be found. Our faithful Shepherd is enough when we graze through the rocky hillside, or when an enemy appears to be ready to pounce. He has a smile on His face when a portion of our trek is about to lead to an overflowing portion of goodness and love. Our Shepherd brings peace as He tends to His precious flock. He cares about us so much!
Soak in and meditate on these familiar words. Circle, underline, and highlight the descriptions God would like you to consider as you think of Him as your Shepherd!
The Lord is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will 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 anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.