The Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd.jpg

“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. ...” – Psalm 23:1-6
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” – John 10:11,14

The Bible tells the story of a nation of shepherds. It may be worth noting that many biblical figures were shepherds, among them the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the twelve tribes, the prophet Moses, King David, and the Old Testament prophet Amos, who was a shepherd in the rugged area around Tekoa. It may surprise you to discover that such great men all had such a humble occupation. But when we read the story in Hebrew we discover something that explains why this is such an exceptional job.

In the original Hebrew, a shepherd is ro’eh-tzon רועה-צאן, which is comprised of two words: ro’eh רועה “herder” and tzon צאן “sheep.” The first word ro’eh comes from the root RAH רעה which throughout the Bible is connected companionship and affection. Ever heard of the Golden Rule, the biblical commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”? In the original Hebrew the word for “your neighbor”, re’acha רעך, comes from the same root.

The Hebrew Bible’s unique term ro’eh tzon – lover of the flock – teaches us that a shepherd was not just a responsible overseer, but a caring father figure, tending to his flock out of a deep sense of love. The prophet Isaiah tells us that the shepherd “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isaiah 40:11). The bond between a shepherd and his animals has all the qualities of a true family.

It now becomes clear why so many great leaders were shepherds; they care deeply for those in their charge, a flock of sheep, or a nation.

The Bible compares God to a shepherd watching faithfully over his beloved people. Jesus also spoke of himself as the “good shepherd” who is willing to “lay down his life for his sheep.” - Yakov Rosenberg

Do you know the Good Shepherd? Are you a part of the flock?

Father, I praise You for the many ways You are my Shepherd. Thank You that in Your leading, protecting, and feeding, You have never failed. Your faithfulness has never faltered. There hasn’t been, nor will there ever be, a circumstance or danger You can’t handle. I rest my life in Your care. Amen.
Oct 11 2018