The Good Shepherd
“Thy Rod of Correction and thy Staff of Protection, they both Comfort me. Psalms 23:4 (paraphrased)”
One of my most favorite passages of scripture in the Bible is the 23 Psalm. Most of us can recite it by heart. I am so enamored with sheep; they just fascinate me! When our Lord described us like sheep who go astray, every man after his own way in the scriptures, He is exactly right! I remember being just like the little sheep in the picture (smile). I have learned a few things over the years and still learning to adhere to the heart of my shepherd. It takes a very patient, caring, protective, and loving shepherd to guide and care for sheep; thank you, Jesus, You are! I read an article by David Murray, a shepherd, who understood personally the behaviors of sheep. He listed 12 Characteristics of Sheep. Let’s take a look at 10 of them:
CHARACTERISTICS OF SHEEP
The Lord’s People from a Natural Perspective
1. Sheep are slow to learn – Every shepherd will tell you countless stories about how sheep can be taught a very painful lesson, and yet fail to learn the painful lesson. A sheep may get caught in barbed wire trying to break through a fence. And the next day it will try it again, and again.
2. Sheep are demanding – Ever watch a lamb suckle its mother? Almost as soon as it is born, it is violently sucking its mother’s udders. And that insatiable demand never leaves them. They demand grass, grass, and more grass; day after day, and night after night. (Do they ever sleep?) And when snow is on the ground, they aggressively demand food from the shepherd. Just listen to them bleat if their troughs are empty even for a short time. And watch the life-or-death stampede when the shepherd appears.
3. Sheep are stubborn – Have you ever tried to move a sheep? It’s like trying to move an elephant. Ever watched a shepherd try to maneuver a sheep into a fold or a dip-tank. It’s like trying to wrestle with a buffalo. Half a dozen sheep invaded my garden once. I thought it would be easy to hustle them out the wide gate again. But it was as if an electric shield (visible only to sheep) stretched across the gap. I could get them to go anywhere and everywhere but through that gate.
4. Sheep are strong and strong-willed – I’ve watched the most macho of men beaten by sheep. You look at their skinny “arms” and “legs” and think “easy.” Next thing you are flat on your back or face down in the dirt. I’ve been flattened by running sheep. It was like getting run over by a tank.
5. Sheep are always going astray – Perhaps the main reason Scripture chooses sheep to characterize us, more than any other animal, is because of its well-deserved reputation for straying (Isaiah 53:6) and getting lost (Luke 15:3). So many times I was out in the middle of nowhere when I would come across a sheep – miles from anyone and anything – and totally unconcerned. I would look up on a cliff and there was a sheep out on a lethal ledge. Other times, when fishing miles from anywhere, I would come across ditches and bogs with the decaying remains of a wandering sheep, and I’d think, “How did that get out here?”
6. Sheep are unpredictable – If you travel along the roads of the Scottish Highlands you will soon learn to expect the unexpected. You look ahead on a quiet piece of long straight road with no cars. You spy sheep in the distance on the side of the road. They watch you driving along towards them. Hundreds of yards pass. You are almost level. Well, they aren’t going to cross the road now, are they? Screeeeeech! Well, what do you know!
7. Sheep are copycats – OK, a bit of a mix of metaphors here, but I think you get my point. When one sheep decides to start running, they all decide to start running. If you were able to ask one, “Why did you start running?” it would say, “Well, because he started running.” The next would say the same. And the next one. And when you got to the last sheep he would just say, “I dunno.”
8. Sheep are restless – It always puzzled me how little sheep slept. I would be in my study at midnight, look out, and there they were still eating grass. And no matter what time I arose in the morning – 3 am or 5 am – they would still be eating grass. Other times, there would be a beautiful summer evening when everything was still and quiet and you would come across a field full of sprinting sheep (usually due to the Scottish midges – look it up on Google). I once heard that for sheep to lie down they need freedom from fear, freedom from friction with others, freedom from hunger, and freedom from pests and parasites. From what I’ve seen, that combination is very rare. (That’s why “HE MAKES ME TO LIE DOWN”… we don’t want to!)
9. Sheep are dependent – Some animals can cope and thrive without any close supervision. Not sheep. They are very dependent on their shepherd. They cannot live without him (or her).
10. Sheep are the same everywhere – I’ve been in a number of different countries in my life and enjoyed the many cultural differences. But sheep are the one constant – in character if not in looks. The American sheep is the same as the African sheep, which is the same as the Asian sheep, which is the same as, all sheep. You get the point.
Because of our fickle ways and neediness in the natural, our Father has given to us and within us Himself, the Holy Spirit, and JESUS CHRIST THE GREAT SHEPHERD OF OUR SOULS! An outward Shepherd just won’t do, now will He?
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR GOOD SHEPHERD
John Chapter 7
- Lays Down His Life – He gives His life for us and to us every day of our lives. Everything He possesses is ours. He takes meticulous care for us every second of the day.
- Supplier of Our Needs – He supplies every one of our needs; there is never any lack in Him.
- Protects Us – When the enemy approaches to harm us or deter us away from Him, He guards us and protect us. We can choose to ignore His protective call to us and follow our own way. His boundaries are loving NEVER controlling.
- Knows Us – He KNOWS us each individually and personally. He communicates to us with our language of love so that we will listen to Him and understand Him.
- Corrects Us – We are so easily distracted and go astray; He chastens and teaches us with love the reasons for our straying from Him.
- Provides a Place for Rest and Safety – In His bosom and fellowship with our Good Shepherd, we can always find rest and safety.
- Grooms Us – In the care of our Good Shepherd, He removes disease, debris, ticks, and other pesky insects from our wool so that we can be whole and free of care. He makes us lie down, sometimes through difficulties, to be still, so we can hear Him and so He can restore our souls. We as sheep naturally don’t like having to wait or to be still.
- Love and Adore Us – We are so loved and adored by our Lord! He is passionate about caring for us and ensuring that we know who He is and just how much we are His!
This blog does not come close in describing the Awesome Shepherd our Lord Jesus is! So please read more about Him as you do a word search on Google or BibleGateway.com using the title, “Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd.”
Rest in His Love each day and ENJOY HIM!