The Bible often refers to the Lord as being our shepherd, but have you ever wondered why?
I have never been a shepherd, so until I dug a little deeper this comparison did not make a lot of sense. I always knew sheep aren't the smartest animals and in many ways, we are kind of like sheep. I didn't really understand what calling God our shepherd actually meant until I read more about the role of a shepherd though. The Psalmist David knew a lot about sheep, and what it was like to be a shepherd, so we can see why he would look at the Lord as his shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me." Psalms 23:1-4
The shepherd must guide his sheep, without him leading the way they would wander around not having a destination. He must lead them to places where he can give them what they need to not just survive, but also thrive. Our Good Shepherd provides all of our needs.
A shepherd in ancient times had two main tools that were used when caring for their sheep-the rod and the staff. The rod was used for many things; it was used to protect his sheep from wild animals, to count the flock and to discipline or correct the animals when they wandered away from the flock. In the same way, our Good Shepherd cares for us. He is our great protector, He corrects us when it is needed and brings us back to the flock.
The other tool, the staff, was used as a comfort item to both the shepherd and the sheep. The shepherd was able to use it as support when standing for long periods of time and to keep his footing when walking in dangerous terrain. The shepherd used the hook of the staff to bring sheep in close to him and to catch them when they wandered somewhere dangerous. By showing his concern for his flock they learned to trust him. Our Good Shepherd gives us His strength and draws us near to Him we can always trust Him.
I'm so thankful that the Lord is our Good Shepherd! That even though we can be silly and stubborn like sheep, He knows just how to care for us. His sheep know His voice when they are called they come to Him. Aren't you thankful for His love, guidance and yes, even discipline in your life?