1 John 4:8, Christian sheep, God is love, God is my shepherd, Jesus the good shepherd, John 10, John 10:10, keith green the lord is my shepherd, nothing can separate us from god's love, Persecution, phillip keller, Psalm 23, Romans 8, Romans 8:35-39, sheep and christians, the good shepherd, the lord is my shepherd, the love of God, trials, What is a shepherd, why are christians compared to sheep, why are christians equated with sheep
Before 2020 ever came through the door of our lives, each of us was already facing challenges, overwhelming odds, loneliness, financial pressures, injustice, unfairness, depression, anxiety, illnesses, surgeries, divorce, abuse, as well as good things like hopes, expectations, dreams, etc. And then 2020 came upon upon us like a slow rolling tidal wave, and Christians along with the world looked on in perplexity. When the truth hit, it hit harder than the lie, and on top of every other trial of this life the end of the world coupled with a great delusion veiling the eyes of so many including other Christians, family members and friends hit us right between the eyes. Many felt stranded and alone. Single moms and dads were even more alone than before, and children already overwhelmed by insecurities were bombarded by emotional upheaval. Depression and suicide rates sky rocketed across around the world as tensions rose at home among those in lockdown.
What about now? Have Christians recovered from the COVID madness? Have the children? The CDC is still stirring up confusion over masks, children and vaccines, social distancing, the return to normal, and the like. Confusion still reigns, and the news media still propagates an atmosphere of fear. And adults trying to cope with it all, are seeking refuge on some far away beach (vaccine or no vaccine) or another vacation destination. Still others escape into the make-believe world of a movie or tv show or a new relationship online or next door or become immersed in a home improvement project.
But is that the right response? An attempt to get away? What does God’s word say?
In short, here is the story. Each of us is equated with a lamb surrounded by trouble on every side, the enemy at every turn, going through frightening things we don’t understand and don’t want to face and going down paths we’d rather not walk, just trying to survive. In other words, there is nothing new in what we are going through today, for the enemy of our soul still wants to chew us up and spit us out, like a wolf with a lamb. But, there are two kinds of lambs: those who wander off and get lost in search of a vacation to revive them or a wonder drug to make them feel better or a new relationship to make them whole, and then there are those lambs who follow the shepherd wherever he goes. Though some recently have been saying we’re no longer lambs but are lions, no where in Scripture are we ever called lions. No where. We are always referred to as lambs.
Psalm 23 is one of the most if not the most popular and well-known of all the Psalms. Its beautiful poetic rhythm has captured hearts worldwide, and its gentle, pastoral scene has inspired generations of those who have memorized its lines. However, though many have memorized it, not many understand it or have thought about it, and though many have heard sermons on it, not many have have thought about the fact that is comes from a lamb’s perspective. A lamb.
Since we are equated to lambs, let’s take a fresh look at this powerful psalm.
“1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
What is a Lamb?
Since each of us is like lamb, it is important to know what that means. After all, what is a lamb? Have you ever thought about lambs?
A lamb is a herd animal. A lamb is defenseless against any and all predators for it has no sharp teeth or roar like a lion, no claws like a cat, no spray like a skunk, no quills like a porcupine, no tusks like an elephant, no bark or growl like a dog, no fangs like a wolf, no strong kick like a cow, no horns like a bull. They are not stealthy. They are not wise. A lamb cannot scratch its back or its head nor clean its bottom. A lamb cannot shew away flies or other bugs. A lamb does not find shelter on its own. A lamb will fall over a cliff as it blindly follows the herd. A lamb will trample another lamb unknowingly when fear overtakes the herd and a stampede ensues. A lamb can easily drown if it falls into water for it cannot swim and its wool becomes a sponge for the water. A lamb will eat grass down to nothing without ever thinking that it could go to new pasture. Much like a newborn human baby, a lamb is completely and helplessly dependent upon its shepherd to do almost everything for it.
What is a Shepherd?
This being the case about lambs and before we can proceed forward in our quest to understand Psalm 23, we must establish who the incredibly important shepherd is. To begin with, there are hirelings and there are shepherds. A hireling is one who is hired to watch the sheep. Like employees today they work for money, and their ambition is to earn that money. Jesus speaks of such in John 10 wherein He explains that a hireling will abandon the sheep when hard times come or an enemy threatens or something catastrophic looms. A hireling does not love the sheep nor does he/she care for the sheep, for the sheep are merely a means of monetary gain. A shepherd on the other hand, is not there merely for the money but for the sheep. Thus, a shepherd will not abandon the sheep at any time for any reason, for the sheep are their number one priority.
Amazingly, in the evenings a good shepherd herds their flock into a sheepfold made up of fencing or the confines of a cave. But, this temporary protection has no wooden door nor gate. Instead, the shepherd stations himself/herself as the door of the pen. Thus, Jesus says in John 10 that He is the door, He is the good shepherd, and no one but His own sheep enter in to the protection of His dwelling.
Who is MY Shepherd?
Psalm 23 is specific as to who each lamb’s shepherd is: The Lord. The Lord is MY shepherd. This is deeply personal and intimate. He is not just someone else’s shepherd or the herd’s shepherd. He is mine. Which means, He cares for me; He watches over me; He is dedicated to me. He is not somewhere far away, but nearby and involved with me.
Not only is He mine, He is Yehovah. He is not just my lord (Adonai) or my provider or my defender, He is Yaweh or Yehovah. The meaning of this name is found in its root as used in Exodus 3:14 when God tells Moses His name is “I am that I am.” He is the One who is, was, and is to come. He is the self-existent, eternal One, and as such is all that I need.
In case there is any question regarding this, Psalm 80 clearly points out that our Shepherd is God Himself. After all, who but God dwells between the cherubim? “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us.3 Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” First Samuel 4:4; 2 Kings 19:15; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 37:16 are a few other passages that state God Almighty is the One who sits/dwells between the cherubim.
Yaweh-Yehovah God who dwells between the cherubim is my Shepherd. He is the One who is watching over me, not because He has to, not because He is paid to, but because He wants to do so, because He loves me. I have a Shepherd who loves me. You have a Shepherd who loves you. Not only this, but He is love itself (1 John 4:8, 16), and thus, will never run out of love or patience for that matter, because “love is patient” (I Corinthians 13).
I have a Shepherd who knows my name. You have a Shepherd who knows you by name. You are not just a number. You are not known by your mother or dad’s name. You are not known by the flaws of your relations. You are not known by what others in your family have done or not done, by their goodness or their badness. You are known for you alone, by your name.
I known my Shepherd’s voice, and so do you. No matter how busy we are, may we never grow dull to His still small voice. Nothing can drown it out. Nothing can silence it. No one can stifle it. Except you, if you do not stay in tune. His voice rings loud and clear in our ears and in our spirit. His voice is shouting to us over the noise, whispering to us in the pain, empowering us in spite of fear. His voice is heard in His Word and through the discernment of His Spirit, if we will read, and if we will listen. Have you read today? Have you listened today?
I have a Shepherd who has not, is not and will not abandon me, ever. He does not flee when dangers come, nor did He seek to save His own life from the wolves. He does not stand aloof from the sheep thinking Himself higher and better and distant. Instead(John 10:10), He laid down His life for me. He laid down His life for you, that we might have life and life more abundantly , that our life might be found in Him (Colossians 3:3).
The LORD God Almighty, Maker of the Universe, Creator of all that is living, the Awesome and Great Eternal God is my Shepherd, is your Shepherd. Why then do we fear when we listen to the nightly news or notice the signs of the times or are going through various trials and griefs? Why then do we cower when a virus or spiritual warfare or persecution is lurking; why do we seek to preserve our lives? Why do we wander off alone in depression and doubt and incredulity?
Our Shepherd is Jesus. Even if the rest of Psalm 23 were never read or memorized, wouldn’t that be enough to still my stormy heart, my raging sea, my overwhelming odds, my family crisis, my medical emergency, my need to succeed, my employment problem, my anything and everything? My Shepherd is God. What else, what Goliath, is bigger than that????
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39.
For Part 2 of this series please select the link below:
For Part 3 of this series please select this link:
For Part 4 of this series please select the link below:
“Why do Sheep Prefer Still Water?” https://www.farmanimalreport.com/2020/03/24/why-do-sheep-prefer-still-water/
“Phillip Keller – A Shepard Looks at Psalm 23,” http://www.trutharchive.net/phillip-keller—a-shepard-looks-at-psalm-23
“Dumb, Directionless, Defenseless,” https://www.challies.com/christian-living/dumb-directionless-defenseless/
“10 Things I’ve Learned from Lambs,” https://modernfarmer.com/2013/12/10-things-learned-lambs/
“Tending Sheep,” https://choosinghimministries.org/tending-sheep-by-angela-scott/
“9 Shocking Reasons Why God Compares Us to Sheep in the Bible,” https://momremade.com/god-compares-us-to-sheep/