The shepherd and his flock

Ezekiel 34--11 jpeg

The verse featured on the home page of the Logos Bible Software on January 6, 2018 portrays God as a shepherd in Ezekiel 34:11, but to comprehend more fully this comparison, let us take a look at the entire passage:

Ezekiel 34:11-16 (New Living Translation):

11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them!

In many of the Psalms written by David, who himself served as a shepherd in the early years of his life, we find references to “the shepherd” as a title for God and Israel as the sheep of His flock

Psalm 80:1 (NLT)

Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock. O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory

This image of God as a shepherd points to his continual direction, guidance and care for His people.

Psalm 95:7 (NLT):

For he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

Psalm 79:13 (NLT):

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.

Psalm 100:3 (NLT):

Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

In thinking of qualities of “the good shepherd,” one who pursues the lost sheep, provides for, and protects them, Psalm 23 comes to mind. As one of my favorite psalms, I committed it to memory as a youngster and continue to draw strength from these comforting words:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

 Yea, 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 runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Although the references from the Old Testament reveal God’s compassion as a shepherd who watches over Israel, in the New Testament as well we find that Jesus Christ uses a similar metaphor in John 10:14-15 (NKJV):

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

1 Peter 5:2 (AMP) speaks of the Church as “the flock of God” and exhorts elders, pastors (another term for shepherd) and spiritual leaders:

shepherd and guide and protect the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not [motivated] for shameful gain, but with wholehearted enthusiasm;

We, thus, see that metaphor of the shepherd and his sheep extends throughout the Scriptures.

We close our discussion with one of the most popular songs of worship related to the figure of the Good Shepherd: the Don Moen classic: “Like a Shepherd He Leads Us”:

 

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One Response to “The shepherd and his flock”

  1. Today’s thought “All the days of my life and …” (January 11) – Belgian Ecclesia Brussel – Leuven Says:

    […] The shepherd and his flock […]

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