“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.” Psalm 23:1-3
Having now owned sheep for over 2 years and learning a lot about the role of a shepherd as well as the nature of sheep (but not saying that I am an expert in any way), Psalm 23 has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Today I thought I would take a bit of time on my blog to talk about sheep and shepherds and relay some simple truths about why God refers to us as sheep and to Himself as our ultimate Shepherd.
Verse 1 above talks about the want of a sheep and how the shepherd takes away that want. That is in fact one of a greatest fears of a sheep – that they will not have enough – enough to eat, enough to drink, or enough protection. Each fear exhibits itself in a different way, but all are very frustrating aspects about being a shepherd and knowing that the fear of the sheep is pretty much unnecessary. I as the shepherd know that the barn is full for the winter and that there will always be enough food and water for the sheep and the sheep will have everything it needs, as always. Yet since the sheep does not ask and indeed cannot understand how I provide for her needs each day, the fear is real and consistent.
At times I have seen my momma sheep, in desperation at times, push or even butt heads with our calf or even her own lamb because her fear of not getting enough to eat is so overpowering. She becomes so self-centered in getting in and satisfying all her needs instead of trusting there will be enough food to feed all of the animals. The fear that her needs will not be met doesn’t allow her to rest in the care that consistently comes her way. In reality, the only time that our sheep are really at true peace is when their bellies are content from being filled – but it only lasts as long as the stomach is full.
The second half of verse 2 then talks about how God leads His sheep to still water. Before owning sheep I had no interaction with other shepherds and since we do not have a stream on our property I probably would not have known what the difference was to a sheep between still waters and moving waters, but I have come to learn from other shepherds that sheep fear moving water. In fact, a thirsty sheep would rather die of thirst then drink out of a fast moving stream. Fear again over-powers the ability for the sheep to rest in the care of the shepherd. A truly loving shepherd would make sure the water source for the sheep would be safe in all respects.
Sheep, above all, desire to live free of the fears that plague their nature. A shepherd alone who is calm and who can read the needs of his/her sheep is able to lead them on a path that lets the sheep be free of fear and live a peaceful life. That is the calling of the shepherd and a good one will not let his/her her sheep down.
Have you noticed in my description of sheep any similarity of how we has humans also are led by fear and how God in His shepherd role gently guides us into trusting Him and all that He can faithfully provide us? For me, I am reminded daily as I head out to the barn how stubborn and difficult I can be at times in trusting God to be my shepherd. Routinely I am witness to the fear and reactive behavior sheep exhibit and it is at those times I am reminded of my sinful nature that presses me to live the same way.
God made no mistake in comparing our nature with the nature of sheep. Trusting in the Lord as your Shepherd is the only way to live a restored life that is filled with all you will ever want. God is the ultimate Shepherd who has a bountiful supply of all that we will ever need. Do not let fear keep you from trusting in all that God can provide for you today. His pasture has more waiting for you than you could ever imagine, but you must trust Him enough to let Him lead you there.