Of Sheep and Shepherds
Sheep, Blue Hill, Maine
There is something special about sheep, something both ancient and pastoral! Perhaps it is because Scripture presents beautiful word pictures of how God shepherds his people. Trusting and obeying the Shepherd’s voice lead to “green pastures” and “still waters”, to fulfillment and security. However, the Psalmist sounds a cautionary note about inattentive, straying sheep because they have left the shepherd’s protective care:
“Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today! “(Psalm 95:1-7)
In view of Israel’s experience with God, the Psalmist also encouraged “all the earth” to joyfully worship and honor God as Creator and Shepherd.
“Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:1-3)
Christians and Jews alike confidently quote or sing “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have no wants” as vocal testament of their faith in “The Lord” who cares for them now and “forever.” The New Testament presents Jesus as the Lord and Good Shepherd, who brings the Kingdom of God, the reality of God, to those who trust and attend to his voice. They believe and love him because he loved them enough to sacrifice himself for their life and security. As Shepherd, he confidently reiterates and restates the hope of Psalm 23, the promise that God is now present with His people and will dwell with them forever:
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)