“The Lord is My Shepherd” - the opening words to Psalm 23. These are familiar words and a common name for God. A name that means much and paints a picture for me…a girl who’s dad raises sheep. A shepherd brings to mind one who cares, is patient and provides. Thinking about God as my Shepherd leaves me thinking about myself as a sheep.
I’m not sure what you know about sheep, but as one who took care of them through my childhood this is a humbling comparison. Sheep are not the smartest or strongest animal. Sometimes they smell and they can make a lot of noise. When I’m honest the comparison is accurate…my mind can wonder, I am weak, my sin stinks and my mouth can get me in trouble.
But please don’t let your comparison stop there. There is a positive way to look at this. I believe God likens us to sheep for other reasons as well. The most important being to remind us of who He is...
I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
It also gives us a glimpse of who we should be -
A Picture of Dependence
Sheep truly do depend on their shepherd...they need their care, their provision, their nourishment. Friend, we need the same from our heavenly Shepherd! What are you in need of right now? Peace, Comfort, Companionship, Strength? I don't know, but I know who can provide. Take your needs to the Shepherd...you can depend on Him to meet them.
A Model of One who Listens
You can't call a sheep like you do a dog or whistle for them either, but they do listen. When my dad's sheep hear his voice or the crackle of feed in his pails, they come and remain calm. In the same way, when they hear strangers they react and seem a bit on edge. Who are you listening to? Do you know the voice of the Shepherd?
An Example of What it Means to Follow
Growing up there were plenty of times we had to move sheep from one pasture to the next and instead of loading them in a trailer, we positioned people in field drive ways and at intersections on the gravel roads. My dad would get a pail of feed, open the gate and lead the wooly animals down the road from one farm to another. This job always made me nervous, but it always went well. Sheep follow their Shepherd. Is God your Shepherd? Follow Him like a sheep...even when it makes you nervous!
He guided them safely, so they were unafraid...
A Prototype for Peace
When my dad enters the barn or the pen, for the most part the sheep stay put or move towards him. If I on the other hand do the same, the sheep know something is different. They appear anxious and look around sensing something has changed. They have peace when their shepherd is present and friend, God, our heavenly Shepherd wants the same for us. He promises to be with us. In His Word He says He will never leave or forsake us. May we too experience peace in the presence of our Shepherd.