Waiting for a Bus?
Sheep Always Need the Shepherd’s Care
Sheep are helpless creatures. Left untended, they eat poisonous plants, drink from polluted pools become infested with parasites or tangle their wool in thorn bushes so badly that they can’t get free. Sheep also sometimes become “cast.” A cast sheep accidentally rolls onto its back. With its feet in the air, the lamb, ewe or ram is unable to get back up without human aid. Only three things can happen to a cast sheep. It either dies, a hungry predator enjoys an easy meal, or the shepherd finds his missing sheep in time to save it.
The human shepherd is the flock’s provider, protector, healer and guide. Unlike his woolly charges, he knows snow is coming. So he takes care to move the flock away from the mountain meadows before the first winter storm. To the sheep, the shepherd’s actions make no sense. Suddenly they are pulled away from clear, cool mountain streams and wonderful juicy grass. The downward path the shepherd leads his flock onto may be dry, barren, rocky ground.
But when life becomes confusing, smart sheep keep following their shepherd.
Believers make up the Lord’s Flock
In both the Old and New Testaments, God repeatedly likens His people to sheep. It’s a good analogy. Left to ourselves, we are often foolish and self-destructive like sheep.
Christian, when your life’s path becomes a confusing, despair-filled, agonizing mess, don’t stop following the Shepherd.
Instead, draw closer to Him.
52 Then he led forth his people like sheep,
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid;
but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
(Psalm 78:52-53 RSV)
In your life, what “rocky paths” has Jesus guided you safely over?
My knowledge about the behavior of sheep came from a wonderful book called “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by W. Phillip Keller. Keller raised sheep as a young man and later became a pastor. His insights into this Psalm are profound.