One of my favorite images of God is as my Shepherd. I remember a painting at a church I once worked at of a sheep caught in the brush on the side of a steep cliff, not a secure place to be. What drew my focus was the look of absolute peace on the animal’s face because it was watching the shepherd who had climbed down the cliff and was reaching out to rescue his little lost sheep. He trusted his shepherd and was sure that he would be saved. The Bible often describes God’s people as sheep and Himself as their Shepherd. I read a book by a Phillip Keller, who had spent several years as a shepherd and put these passages into perspective. Where we look at sheep and see sweet faces and fluffy white wool, a shepherd sees an animal who is helpless on his own and utterly clueless – the truth is sheep are dumb animals. How does that make you feel now 😮 ? Sheep tend to put their head down to graze and never watch where they’re going, never notice danger nearby and can graze their way right off the edge of a cliff. Hmm – that sounds like me sometimes. Sheep who get to close to the water’s edge often fall in, soaking their wool making them too heavy to climb out and they often drown. Sounds a bit like us and sin doesn’t it? We are sheep – clueless, helpless, defenseless – and desperately in need of a shepherd.
David identified the Lord as his Shepherd in whom he placed all his confidence. He knew the Shepherd would meet his every need, whether for protection, comfort, food or rest. Jesus reaffirmed that Shepherd identity in John 10:11 saying, “I am the Good Shepherd.” The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, He knows their name, their habits, their character and how they get into trouble. In Luke 15 we learn that a Good Shepherd will search for His lost sheep. That’s comfort to the heart of this little lamb with a tendency to wander and lose my way. When I am in danger from my own foolish actions, my Good Shepherd promises to find and rescue me. The beauty of it is that we are never really out of His sight. Where a human shepherd has to search before he can rescue, the Good Shepherd knows exactly where we are; we can be assured He is on His way.
Rest yourself in the care of the Good Shepherd my friend, He knows you and loves you – so much that He gave His life to rescue you. The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I need to know.