The Life of a Shepherd

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Psalm 95

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1, NASB)

Imagine the daily life and work of a shepherd.

They lived in tents. But lack of rainfall meant lots of moving around during the summer season. They often had to be away from their home base for days or weeks.

They carried a large leather bag which contained all their food and daily supplies. A large staff or stick, sometimes with a knob on the end, was used both as a club and as a walking stick, very helpful over rough, uneven ground. Like David, some shepherds were rather good with a slingshot, since it provided effective, portable protection. It was a way to ward off predators from a distance.

Shepherds had to stay ready for emergencies. If a sheep was injured, they were its only source of medical help. Sheep got so focused on grazing, with their head staying down, that they often wandered off. A sheep was so valuable that it had to be found. The shepherd would leave the rest of the flock and look until the lost sheep was located and returned (see Luke 15:4-7).

The days were long. The nights were long. The life was lonely. Some shepherds made music on a hand-made reed pipe. Many entertained themselves by talking to the sheep, and thus the sheep grew to recognize their shepherd’s voice. He had to keep constant count of them, sometimes even calling them by name (see John 10:3).

Good shepherds would never kill and eat their sheep, no matter how hungry. Shepherds had to be strong and resourceful for times of danger, yet keep a gentle, caring, patient disposition. At night, after gathering the sheep into a fold for protection, he would guard the opening with his own body (see John 10:7-9).

Good shepherds worked hard for little pay and less respect. They did strenuous and important work.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NASB)

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