Sheep and Shepherds
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
to tend a flock; i.e. pasture it; intransitively, to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend):—× break, companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman, keep (sheep) (-er), pastor, shearing house, shepherd, wander, waste.
occurs 173 times in 144 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
a shepherd (literally or figuratively):—shepherd, pastor
occurs 18 times in 17 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV
Sheep do not have the ability to survive on their own. They:
- graze the same area until the pasture is destroyed.
- pollute the same ground until it breeds dangerous parasites.
- drink whatever water is available, clear or contaminated.
- are fearful and become aggravated which can lead to improperly digesting foods.
- are timid.
- and can be stubborn.
They need a shepherd.
Christians are compared to sheep quite frequently in God’s Word.
We wander down paths of our own devising rather than follow God’s way for our lives. We delve into false beliefs. We drink from unhealthy waters, figuratively. We can be stubborn and fight against God’s best.
Looking at the natural habits of sheep when left on their own can be a reflection of ourselves.
Jesus is our Shepherd. He is the Christ, the Son of God. He created me and you. Who better to care for me, for us? He cared more than anything for the likes of me when He went to Calvary.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
We are capable of doing right, yet often fail in our attempts using our own strength. We drink waters of the world rather than the Living Water. We live in fear rather than trusting in Him Who is trustworthy. We wander away from our Maker and do not listen for His still, small voice directing us in the way in which we should go.
When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
Jesus is our faithful Shepherd, gentle, caring, and, yet, stern.
A shepherd owns his sheep and marks them with his special mark to determine ownership. He will cut a notch, a distinctive mark, into his sheep’s ear while placing one ear on a wooden block.
In the Old Testament, Exodus 21, this was also done to a slave in a Hebrew household who chose, of his own free will, to become a lifetime member of that home. His master/owner would take him to the door, put his ear lobe against the door post and, with an awl, puncture a hole through the ear. He was marked.
1 “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever. Exodus 21:1-6
We, as Christ’s, bear the mark of the Cross. Jesus has authority over me.
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. Matthew 16:24
We need the Good Shepherd, the One Who truly is our Shepherd.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd. John 10:7-16
Father God, You gave Your One and Only Son to pay the price for my iniquities. Thank You so very much.
As one of Your children, I so want to please You. Carrying my cross daily and following Jesus is my call. And I want that to always be my call. I am grateful for being willing and able, for the sake of the Gospel. I follow. It is a privilege, LORD. A privilege.
As a sheep, I would wish that I were not so vulnerable, but I am. It is by staying in Your Word, by listening to and for You, by praying, that I can remain in Your fold. I know that the good Shepherd guards the gateway so that I remain safe. He watches for the wolves, protecting me. I am dependent upon Jesus and look to Him. I am sorry for my past periods of straying away. I am here now. I must stay close for His protection is vital to my life. Thank You, Father. I lift up in prayer those who stray or are lost or have not yet found the Shepherd. May they hear Your Voice and come to You before it is too late. I have family and friends in those places and I so want them with us in Heaven. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Photo of shepherd and sheep
Photo of John 10