I have an old picture of a shepherd tending his flock along with a word plaque hanging on my kitchen wall. It gives me comfort and encouragement to look at it as it reminds me that I can trust the Lord as my Shepherd to guide me throughout my day.
The first mention of sheep was in Genesis 4. We’re told that Abel was a keeper of sheep (a shepherd). He brought the firstling (and choicest) of his flock as an acceptable offering to the Lord (Gen. 4:2, 4). In Genesis 12:16, we find that Abraham also kept sheep (among other livestock). In Exodus, the Passover was instituted using a lamb (a male of the 1st year, without blemish) (Ex. 12:3-14). David was a shepherd boy and utilized his shepherd’s bag to store the stones he chose for his sling to kill the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 16:11, 19, 17:40).
The nation of Israel is referred to as lost sheep (Jeremiah 50:6, Matt. 10:6, 15:24). Jesus tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15, challenging the Pharisees and the scribes by saying, “What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine to go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he rejoices. Likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance.” This parable was a precursor to the Parable of the Lost Coin and then the Parable of the Lost Son (more popularly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son). Both these parables also end in great rejoicing when the lost coin and son are “found” again. God cares about the lost. Jesus says in Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
Jesus Christ is not only the True Shepherd, but He’s the Door for salvation, and the Lamb (Passover lamb) of God Who takes away the sin of the world (Isaiah 53:7, John 1:29, 36, 10:1-27, Acts 8:32, Revelation 5:1-8, 12, 7:17, 22:3). The 22nd Psalm portrays Messiah as the GOOD SHEPHERD on earth, in his suffering and death (See also John 10:11). The 23rd Psalm portrays Jesus Christ as the GREAT SHEPHERD, Who leads the sheep securely through resurrection life (See also John 10:27-30, Heb. 13:20). In this Psalm, the Great Shepherd supplies: Provision (vs. 1, 5), Rest (vs. 2), Restoration (vs. 3), Direction (vs. 3), Presence, Protection, and Comfort (vs. 4), Eternal Goodness, Grace and Security (vs. 6). The 24th Psalm portrays Jesus Christ as the CHIEF SHEPHERD in glory (See also 1 Peter 5:4, Rev. 19). Although these Psalms and the parables were directed to the nation of Israel, we can learn from them and receive comfort from them as well (Rom. 15:4).
Like sheep, we each have gone astray and have turned to our own devices (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23, Eph. 2:2-3). Our human tendency is to look inward (through our own perspective) and lead ourselves, but this is not wise (Prov. 3:5-7). Though we walk in the flesh, our enemies are not of the flesh, but of the spiritual realm. Who better to stand before us when unseen forces attack than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! Only He is able to help us spiritually discern the ’wolves in sheep’s clothing’ and also provide the protection we need to stand strong against the wiles of the devil (1 Cor. 2:14, 16, 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-13, Heb. 4:12). When we follow (as instructed in God’s Word) and keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, we’ll be able to walk in love, in the light and with wisdom (Eph. 5:1-2, 8-10, 15-17, 2 Tim. 3:15-17). So keep your eyes up on the Lord and He will lead you safely home (Col. 3:1-2, Ps. 121, Phil. 3:20-21). Laura