Friday, November 18, 2016

Good Shepherd

How familiar is the verse, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).  This “Shepherd’s Psalm” has been written about by many Christian authors. However, there are many other allusions to shepherds in Scripture that add to the theme of our guide and leader in the ways of righteousness for His names sake.

He leads His flock like a shepherd. He gathers his lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:1). Talk about tender and motherly like. The image that comes to mind here is of a shepherd in long flowing robes with a lamb clutched against his chest in one hand and a staff in the other, walking along a rocky trail headed up toward the pastureland above.

This picture continues in Jeremiah 31:10 and beyond, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.” Since He rescued and redeemed them from the hand of the stronger one, they will stream to the goodness of the Lord and sing to the Lord for He has made them like a well-watered garden.

Ezekiel the prophet continues this theme, “I myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, and in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country” (Ezekiel 31:11-13 NKJV). This speaks of a shepherd who is near to His people, leading and feeding them.

In the New Testament, the Gospel of John brings the shepherd metaphor alive. “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd, and I known my sheep, and am know by my own. As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:11,12,13-16). This is the story of the sheep and their shepherd who protects and leads and speaks to them. His sheep know His voice and follow. If we do not we are not His and will be lost. He does not want us to be lost and He will look for us and call us. He gathers us as one flock or church. He wants no denominations. He wants one universal or general catholic church. That means we may worship in different places, but the same God, and Savior and Shepherd, with one voice, creed and Word of God.   In the book of Acts, Paul admonishes his pastors, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit his made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his blood” (Acts 20:28).

And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4). We are to worship and wait on Jesus, the Good Shepherd’s return patiently and prayerfully.

Shepherd of My Heart is a hymn that speaks to the one who holds us close to His heart.

Maker of this heart of mine, you know me very well

You understand my deepest thought, more than I know myself

So when I face the darkness, when I need to find my way

I trust in you, shepherd of my heart

Keeper of this heart of mine, your patience has no end

You've loved back into your arms, time and time again

So if I start to wander, like the lamb that goes astray

I'll trust in you, shepherd of my heart

You're the beacon of my night, you're the sunlight of my days

I can rest within your arms, I can know your loving ways

So let the cold winds blow and let the storm rage all around

I trust in you, shepherd of my heart

Giver of this life of me, you're what I'm living for

For all my deepest gratitude you love me even more

So as I walk through darkness, listening for the Master's call

I'll trust in you shepherd of my heart

You're the beacon of my night, you're the sunlight of my days

I can rest within your arms, I can know your loving ways
So as I walk through valleys listening for my Master's call

So let the cold winds blow and let the storm range all around

I'll trust in you, shepherd of my heart

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