What is a good shepherd?
What is a good shepherd in real life? A good shepherd keeps his flock of sheep alive. It isn’t an easy thing to do!
- Sheep are not known for their brilliance. They have a tendency to follow each other, but evidently that is also something that protects them. Their main protection is being together, not being separate from the flock. If they wander off, they will be in big trouble. Their enemies can much more easily get them and destroy them.
- The shepherd makes sure they are in a place where they have good food. He must be sure there are no poisonous plants nearby and that the supply of food and water is good to feed the whole flock.
- He must be sure the mothers safely deliver their babies and that the babies are nursing well. If there are any problems, the shepherd must assist…with the delivery or with helping the mother and baby connect. He may have to provide food for the baby as well. If the baby lambs don’t survive, the owner of the flock loses money.
- He must maintain the health of the flock. If any of the sheep are sick, he must help them and know how to get them back to health. If they are injured, he must fix their injury and maybe even carry them around for awhile.It is easy for a small injury to become a raging infection out in the wild. He must treat small injuries early and quickly before they become big and the sheep is in danger of dying.
- If he has a sheep or lamb that wanders away, he must find it. Each one is important to the owner because a day comes when they must be sold and the money adds up. The owner doesn’t want less sheep than when the shepherd started working with them.
How does this square with our Heavenly Father, the Good Shepherd?
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy[e] shall follow met
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
I think you will see many parallels as you read through this familiar Psalm. I still remember a number of years ago, sitting beside an older woman from our church. I believe she was 100 years old. She was at the point where she didn’t talk much anymore and slept most of the day. As it turned out, she died a few days later. But the one thing that she still said, and repeated with my husband (her pastor) and me, was Psalm 23. What a comfort when we face the end of our lives to know that the Shepherd who has taken us through our lives will also shepherd us through death.
Yes, there are many comforting words of Scripture, but what a comfort to know, as we become more and more aware of our weakness,
- that our Good Shepherd is walking with us, providing all we need so that we are not in need.
- that our path is near still waters where we can gather a drink or receive cleansing.
- that He provides restoration for our souls.
- That He leads us in a path of righteousness so He will be glorified.
- That even though our path leads through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t have to fear because He is with us.
- During times of death and grief, He comforts us.
- He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies to supply food and comfort.
- He anoints our head with oil. This speaks of what was done to heal wounds and sores.
- He allows goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.
- When we die, if we are His sheep, we will live with Him forever in His house.
What wonderful provision He has made for us…both for this life and the next!