Have you noticed that God has a unique connection with sheep? God calls us the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3) He refers to Jesus as both the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd. (John 1:29, John 10:14)
You may have heard it reported that sheep are a very needy set of creatures. If you didn’t grow up around sheep, you probably aren’t aware that they are also regarded–lovingly at times and with frustration at other times–as being animals that are, well, rather stupid.
Phillip Keller, in his marvelous book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, gives a most thorough and heartwarming explanation of the shepherd-sheep relationship. He points out, as an adult, first time shepherd, that “[sheep] require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and meticulous care”. No wonder God stresses the importance of us keeping our eyes on Him and seeking Him with all our hearts. He understands the unique needs we have, needs that we can’t manage well ourselves, needs that only a good shepherd can and will manage with perfection. That “meeting of needs” boils down to a relationship where trust, love, and respect can grow–or turn sour–depending upon the heart of the shepherd. And, most interestingly, God gives us “sheep” a choice as to which shepherd we follow.
Phillip Keller notes that the wellbeing of a flock is dependent upon the shepherd’s management abilities and his heart for his sheep. The shepherd makes the difference in the sheep’s life and destiny.
The devil wants to manage a flock of his own. But he has no heart for this flock. He doesn’t care about or for them. He isn’t a good shepherd. Those who choose his management of their lives are a sorry lot. They are ever in want of food, clean water, kindness, love, freedom from tormenting pests, soothing of their hurts, peace, a lush, quiet place to rest and more. It’s amazing that people actually choose to follow that type of depravity rather than the goodness, peace, and plenty that our Shepherd provides for us.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, leads us beside still waters. He restores our souls. He meets our needs. He provides us with good things and cares about our sorrows, needs, and wants. (Psalm 23:1-3) He even gave His life for all the sheep that would one day choose to follow Him. He didn’t ask us to trust His love before He showed it, He showed it so we would trust His commitment to our wellbeing. (John 10:11)
To explain just how important the shepherd-sheep relationship is, I will follow up this article with a few peculiarities of sheep. You will be astounded at the way we are all so like sheep. (Isaiah 53:6) You will understand more about the shepherd who rejoiced at finding his sheep and why a good shepherd anoints with oil. Come back on Friday and read about “yourself” in a new light.
What shepherd have you chosen to follow? How can you assist one who desperately needs to choose the flock of the Good Shepherd and leave the flock of the devil’s indifferent, depraved management tactics?