The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. ” (Psalm 23:1)
= to tend a flock; i.e. pasture it; intransitively, to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend): companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman, keep (sheep), pastor, shearing house, shepherd, wander, waste.
Occurs 173 times in 144 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the King James Version.
Christians are compared to sheep quite frequently in God’s Word. Sheep do not have the ability to survive on their own. They:
- graze the same area until the pasture is destroyed.
- pollute the same ground until it breeds dangerous parasites.
- drink whatever water is available, clear or contaminated.
- are fearful and become aggravated which can lead to improperly digesting foods.
- are timid and stubborn.
- need a shepherd.
We wander down paths of our own devising rather than following God’s way for our lives. We delve into false beliefs. We drink from unhealthy waters, figuratively. We can be stubborn and fight against God’s best. Looking at the natural habits of sheep when left on their own can be a reflection of ourselves.
Jesus is our Shepherd. He is the Christ, the Son of God. He created me and you. Who better to care for me, for us? He cared more than anything for the likes of me when He went to Calvary.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
We are capable of doing right, yet often fail in our attempts using our own strength. We drink waters of the world rather than the Living Water. We live in fear rather than trusting in Him Who is trustworthy. We wander away from our Maker and do not listen for His still, small voice directing us in the way in which we should go.
When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
Jesus is our faithful Shepherd, gentle, caring, and yet, stern. A shepherd owns his sheep and marks them with his special mark to determine ownership. He will cut a notch, a distinctive mark, into his sheep’s ear while placing one ear on a wooden block.
In the Old Testament, Exodus 21, this was also done to a slave in a Hebrew household who chose, of his own free will, to become a lifetime member of that home. His master would take him to the door, put his ear lobe against the door post and, with an awl (a small pointed tool), puncture a hole through the ear. He was marked. We, as Christ’s, bear the mark of the Cross. Jesus has authority over me. We need the Good Shepherd, the One Who truly is our Shepherd.
14 I am the good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.” (John 10:14-16)
Father God, You gave Your One and Only Son to pay the price for my iniquities. As one of Your children, I so want to please You. As a sheep, I wish that I were not so vulnerable, but I am. It is by staying in Your Word, by listening to and for You, by praying, that I can remain in Your fold. I know that the good Shepherd guards the gateway so that I remain safe. He watches for the wolves, protecting me. I am dependent upon Jesus and look to Him.
I am sorry for my past periods of straying away. I am here now. I must stay close for His protection is vital to my life. Thank You, Father. I lift up in prayer those who stray or are lost or have not yet found the Shepherd. May they hear Your Voice and come to You before it is too late. I have family and friends in those places and I so want them with us in Heaven.
In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.