Tag Archive for shepherd

Our Shepherd Forever

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Revelation 7:9-17

When God’s timeless purposes are complete, when He has done in Christ everything He ever wanted to do for His people, what will our relationship with Him be?

They are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from the eyes. (Revelation 7:15-17, NASB)

Psalm 23:1 will be full reality for each of God’s people.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (NIV)

As the Good Shepherd, the glorified Christ will pasture them:

They will hunger no longer. (Revelation 7:16a, NASB) 

He will lead them “beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2b, NASB):

“…nor will they thirst anymore…for the Lamb…will guide them to springs of the water of life.” (Revelation 7:16-17, NASB)

He will meet their every need in full measure: 

God will wipe every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17b, NASB)

As the Good Shepherd, God Himself will be their shelter and protection:

They are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (Revelation 7:15, NASB)

He will be with His flock personally, constantly, completely, and forever. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” What a beautiful picture of God’s love!

Feed My Sheep

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read John 21:1-17

The setting was the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias) after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter had gone fishing, which was his former profession, and six other disciples had joined him. Jesus appeared, and without introducing Himself, blessed them with a huge catch of fish, then cooked them breakfast on the shore. What had been frustrating work was now rewarding and relaxing.

After breakfast, Jesus and Peter apparently got alone and had a conversation in private. Jesus was probably looking straight into Peter’s eyes when He asked him,

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more these?” (John 21:15, NASB)

What did Jesus mean by “more than these”? More than Peter loved the other disciples? Or perhaps more than the other disciples loved Jesus? Maybe, but it seems more likely that Jesus was asking if Peter loved Him more than fishing and the other familiar, comfortable things in life to which Peter had now returned. In any case, He was pointedly asking Peter where He stood in Peter’s values.

Jesus basically asked the same question three times, using two different words for “feeding” or “taking care of” sheep, two different words for “sheep” (“sheep” and “lambs”), two different words for “love”, and two different words for “knowing”. Some make much of these differences, but I think Jesus was using virtual synonyms to drive home His point. He was gently giving Peter the chance to reaffirm his love after Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night of His trial.

How did Jesus ask Peter to prove his love?

“Tend My lambs…
“Shepherd My sheep…
“Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17, NASB)

What is the best way to thank our Shepherd and express our love for Him? Feed His sheep. Nurture those He loves. Jesus has the heart of a Shepherd, and He longs for us to join Him in that work.

The Shepherd’s Compassion

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Matthew 9:35 – 10:8

Jesus was traveling all around Galilee, in the northern portion of Israel, teaching and healing. Huge crowds followed Him. How utterly exhausting that must have been for Him! He could have easily begun seeing the crowds as an inescapable burden. But how did Jesus see them?

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36, NASB)

He saw them with the eyes and heart of a caring shepherd. He saw their great need, and He longed to gather them all to His Father. He told His disciples:

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38, NASB)

Jesus did more than feel sorry for them. He took action, using what He had at hand. He sent His disciples out to all the surrounding villages with these instructions:

“As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8, NASB)

Elsewhere, Jesus reveals His Shepherd’s heart with these words:

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. and when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:4-7, NASB)

Jesus saw sinners, not as enemies, but as lost sheep needing a shepherd. He looked at them, not with anger or disgust, but with compassion. To the shepherd, each sheep is precious.

Never forget that God has sent you out into this evil world to gather His lost sheep. His heart longs for them, so He has sent you. Go with His deep love and compassion for the lost sheep. Don’t condemn them. Gather them to the Shepherd.


from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 10:1-38

“He who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. . . .  For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. 

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:2-4, 9-10, 14-15, 17-18, 27-30, NASB)

Father, the deep knowing that binds You to the Son
now binds me to Him.
And as I am bound to Him,
I am bound to You as well.

He calls me personally,
by my own name, and
I recognize His voice.
I am learning to follow no voice but His.
For when He speaks, I hear You, Father:
Your love,
Your wisdom,
Your tender, faithful, constant care for me.

Your Son leads me through every day –
me, Father,
through everything that comes.

He protects me with Himself.
He places His own body
between me and any approaching harm.
He, the Good Shepherd, the Almighty God, is
the Gate,
the Door,
my impenetrable Shield,
my impregnable Fortress.
I need not fear
sickness, or
even death.
Everything that touches me comes through Him,
and through You, Father.

Because I am in His hands,
I am in Yours.
You and I are beginning to share
the same knowing,
the same peace,
the same deep love
that You share with the Son.

Complete us, Father.
Complete us in Jesus Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Good Shepherd
Printed Music & Lyrics

Psalm 23: I Shall Not Want

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Psalm 23:1

For most of us, when we think of God as our Shepherd, one scripture passage comes to mind: Psalm 23. For Old Testament Jews, this picture of God as Shepherd would have been rich with associations.

  • It would have reminded them of the Exodus, when God shepherded His people for forty years through an empty wilderness, faithfully providing for their every need.

He led forth His own people like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
He led them safely, so that they did not fear. (Psalm 78:52-53, NASB)

  • It would have reminded them of King David, a simple shepherd who led Israel to their golden age as a nation.

But for me, it’s the personal flavor of the language that draws me. It’s so warm and simple. With most Old Testament references to God as Shepherd, God’s people are the flock. But here, the Lord is MY Shepherd. That gives this psalm its unique appeal.

If the Sovereign, loving God of all reality is my shepherd, what is the logical result?

I shall not want. (v.1b, NASB)

If God Himself is my Shepherd, my perfect Guide and Provider, I will lack nothing. How could I?

  • He is complete in love. He always wants what is best for us.
  • He is complete in wisdom. He always knows what is best for us.
  • He is complete in power. He is able to do all that is best for us.

Of course, our lacking nothing is measured by His perfect wisdom, not by our fear or greed. He supplies everything we need, though not everything we may want. And this sufficiency in Him extends to every area of life, including the demands of holiness in this evil world: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3, NIV).

The opening words of this Psalm are so very familiar: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, NASB). But what peace would they bring if we could live in them constantly and completely?

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lord, Why Am I Anxious?
Printed Music & Lyrics

He Is Our Shepherd, We Are His Sheep

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Psalm 100

Considering a shepherd’s responsibilities, it’s no wonder God calls Himself our Shepherd. What a beautiful picture of Him! He constantly cares for our every need. He takes personal responsibility for every aspect of our safety and well-being. It’s humble and thankless work, but He does it eagerly, carefully, thoroughly. He is both strong and gentle, rugged and patient.

Kings and other leaders were to serve as good shepherds of God’s people. Shepherding was the standard against which God measured them.

Israel had a long tradition of shepherds. The father of the Jewish people, Abraham, had flocks, as did his son, Isaac. Isaac’s son, Jacob, worked as a shepherd from his earliest days. Jacob’s sons, the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel, were shepherds as well.

Moses spent forty years shepherding the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro, through a vast wilderness. This was God’s preparation for him to lead his people, Israel, for forty years through the same wilderness.

God’s preparation for David, the greatest king of Israel, was shepherding as well. More on him to come.

When God’s only-begotten Son arrived among us after centuries of promises, who were the only ones who got a special invitation?

Shepherds living out in the fields…keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8, NIV)

There’s another major reason that God considers Himself our shepherd and calls His leaders to be good shepherds. We, God’s people, are so much like sheep. We are utterly dependent on Him for existence, for provision, for welfare and survival. We are constantly, deeply needy. We live our entire existence in the presence and care of the Good Shepherd. We are prone to wander away from our Shepherd’s protection. And when we do, we are easy prey. We are defenseless.

God is your shepherd. Stay close to Him.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Father’s Gifts
Printed Music & Lyrics

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)

The Shepherd King

Hear this from Ezekiel 34:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?…You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.”

Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them:
“I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.”
(vv. 2, 4-5, 20a, 23-24, NIV)

Micah 5 prophesies this:

You, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.
(vv. 2, 4-5a, NIV)

Isaiah 40:9-11 says:

You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain…
lift up your voice with a shout…
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See the Sovereign LORD comes with power…
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. (NIV) 

Sheep and shepherds were a fixture of daily life in biblical times. Everyone was familiar with them. Thus “shepherds” was a common figure of speech for leaders, from kings on down. These “shepherds” were to lead their flock to food and water. They were to provide protection for everyone and special care for those who needed it.

But not all shepherds took their jobs seriously. Ezekiel spoke of leaders who cared for themselves rather than the flock. The fed on the flock rather than feeding the flock. Through both Ezekiel and the prophet Micah, God said that He would not stand by while His flock was neglected. The unfaithful shepherds would be judged and struck down.

But He would not leave His people without a shepherd. Both prophets said that God would send a Greater Shepherd, His own Anointed One, Messiah, who would shepherd His people as Loving God desired. This Great Shepherd would be from the line of King David, who himself had been a shepherd.

In fact, says Micah, this Shepherd would come from David’s home town, Bethlehem. This tiny village, insignificant by human standards, would provide a second great leader, even greater than King David. God said this leader would come as God’s own agent, not man’s choice. His origins would be “from of old, from ancient times”; that is, He would be part of God’s timeless plan, working since before the foundation of the world. This Leader would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.” His power would not be limited by human weakness but would be the power and authority of Sovereign God Himself. God’s people would finally live in total security, and the King’s rule would reach “to the ends of the earth”.

This King would not simply bring peace. He Himself would be their peace. Over 700 years later the Apostle Paul would say the same of Jesus Christ:

He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14, NIV)

How appropriate that when Jesus came and was opposed by the false shepherds of His day, He characterized Himself this way:

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11, NIV)

To our picture of the mighty Messiah King, the Shepherd King brings a personal flavor, a tenderness, an individual attention that all who know Jesus Christ will recognize immediately.

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28, NIV)

Father, Jesus Christ is my shepherd.
His every word is love, and
His every path leads to You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Peace, Peace, Peace
Printed Music & Lyrics