When I think of the life of a shepherd it sounds relaxing. You get to spend your days with cute sheep and even cuter lambs, enjoying God’s beautiful landscape, eating your lunch under a shady tree in silence and with a book as your companion (an introvert’s dream).
But being a real shepherd was actually hard work. The work day started early and ended late. It required a lot of walking and vigilant watch over the sheep so that none of them wandered off. If one did get lost it was the shepherd’s job to hunt it down and bring it back into the fold. Shepherds who truly cared for their flock were willing to put their life on the line for their sheep.
It is interesting and important that the Bible calls us sheep. We need to be cared for and we need to be led. We need protection and provision. We desperately need a shepherd, and The Lord takes that title upon himself.
As David cared for his sheep, so God cares for us, “the sheep of his pasture.”
But what does it mean that the Lord is our Shepherd (Ps. 23)? How does he lead us and care for us?
The Shepherd Guides us in Wisdom
When it comes to wisdom we either think that we know it all or we look for it in all the wrong places. We look outward to our culture, or to other people, and inward to our emotions for guidance. We like the idea of “following our heart.” But true wisdom always starts by looking upward to our great Shepherd, and to the truth that He has revealed to us in his Word.
The reason we need God is because wisdom is more than knowledge. Wisdom is taking the knowledge of God and applying it to our lives. We can’t do this on our own. We need the Shepherd to show us the way.
“For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:6
God promises to teach us and guide us, but he always does this through His written Word. Most importantly, Jesus is said to be our wisdom, for in him we gain the true knowledge of God (1 Cor. 1:30).
The Shepherd Cares for us by his Providence
I LOVE this truth! It brings me such great peace knowing that God’s providential care is over me. The fact that God governs all things in the world at all times is a great source of peace. From the care of creation (Ps 104) to the details of my life (Mt. 10:29), God is caring for us all. Nothing that happens to us is a mistake, and nothing takes God by surprise. From our happiest days to our most devastating moments, ALL is a part of God’s providential and good care for us. He knows what is best and He knows all that needs to happen in order to lead His sheep home.
We are Fed by his Pasture
The pasture refers to God’s Word. As we already saw, it is in God’s Word that we find wisdom, but it is also in God’s Word that we find food for our souls– a spiritual feast that causes growth in faith and affection for our Shepherd-God.
The Scripture is called both “milk” and “meat” for the people of God, and by it we are nourished, made strong, and grow in salvation (Heb. 5:12-15; 1 Pet. 2:2).
To know the Lord as “Shepherd” ultimately means that we know Jesus Christ, the “Great Shepherd” of the sheep (Heb. 13:20). It means that we recognize His voice and follow Him (Mt. 10:27). It means that as we follow Him, we learn to be content with where He leads us.
Do you know your Shepherd to be perfectly good, always kind, in no way cruel, and never wrong? Then we, of all people, should be content with our lives. This is where our Shepherd has led us for the time being.
“Our Good Shepherd is Master of the world, stronger than all enemies,
Conqueror of all, and is able to provide for His sheep in any place!”
– J.R. Miller
The truth that Jesus is our Great Shepherd, that he gives each one of his sheep his undivided attention, and that he gave up his life in order to save his sheep, should fill us with joy, give us hope in hard times and a deep desire to follow this Shepherd all the days of our lives.
Looking To Jesus,