The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Palestine, during the period that the Bible was generally written, was a land of shepherds and sheep. The shepherd owns the sheep and is totally committed to them. It is the shepherd's responsibility to be constantly watchful over the herd in order to shield them from danger and violent weather. If any sheep are lost, the shepherd will search until they are found. The sheep are totally dependent upon the shepherd to be their provider, protector, and guide. They refuse to follow the voice of a stranger as they know their shepherd's voice.
In the Old Testament there are many examples of people who were shepherds. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's occupations were raising sheep.
Moses was a shepherd for 40 years in the desert. He was very familiar with all the trails; all the watering places; and the green pastures in the Mt. Horeb area. He also knew the people in that area.
Amos, a prophet to Israel, was a shepherd, and also a farmer.
David, the greatest king of Israel, spent his early years as a shepherd. Many of the Psalms reveal his early life as a shepherd caring for his sheep. In Psalm 23, he describes the Lord as being a dependable provider, protector, and guide. For example: “The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.” (NLT verse 1).
In the Book of John, Jesus Christ presented an illustration that depicted Himself as the Good Shepherd. His people are revealed as His sheep. They are not described as terrified or docile animals, but they are portrayed as obedient followers who are wise enough to follow the One who leads them in the right places and in the right ways.
For God's people, Jesus Christ is their provider, protector, and guide just as the ancient shepherds were for their sheep. Jesus states: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”, and He knows His “own sheep, and they know Me.”.
F. B. Meyer stated: “The oriental shepherd always walked ahead of his sheep. He was always out in front. Any attack upon the sheep had to take him into account first. Now God is out in front. He is in our tomorrows, and it is tomorrow that fills people with fear. Yet God is already there. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass through Him before they can get to us.”.
God's people can always rely on their Good Shepherd to supply their need. He is their own personal provider, protector, and guide. You can put your trust in Him to “lead you beside peaceful streams”. He will continually bless you by “restoring your soul”. All of His people (sheep) may look forward to the day when they will dwell “in the house of the LORD forever and ever”.
Let me always remember how lovingly Christ protects me. Amen.
~ Ann Brock Ludington