Like me, you probably don’t have much contact with shepherds or sheep.
Although on one occasion, when visiting a local farm near our home that was also an education center for children, I came to understand what it must be like to be a shepherd.
As we walked around the farm and came to the fenced-in area which held the sheep, most of the sheep enjoyed the pasture, heads down, munching on the grass. My family and I decided to enter the shed to see any sheep inside close up. Inside the shed, another fence separated us from the sheep.
As we approached and peered over, suddenly sheep from all directions, some far across the field, raised their heads and began running towards me, bleating loudly as they came.
At first, I did not know what had caused this magnetism but then I realized that not only was I standing next to the gate, but I was wearing the same color top as the farm staff, who fed and cared for the sheep.
I have to say it was a touching moment to be so popular with these animals which looked so adorable.
But, it also gave me insight into the biblical perspective of God as our shepherd and ourselves as sheep.
On my visit to Israel, I spied a Bedouin shepherd perched on a rock. He sat patiently, unflustered by the world around him, calmly watching his flock. Sheep dotted the crest of the hill.
It was a glimpse of life from thousands of years earlier when David was a shepherd boy. The role of shepherding, I presume, has not changed much over the years. Sheep farming is still an important occupation for communities in the Judean hills around Jerusalem.
David, a skilled and seasoned shepherd, wrote this about God.
The Lord is my shepherd;Psalm 23:1-4 (NLT)
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths…
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
If David, as a skilled and seasoned shepherd, knew these truths about God, then we can know them too.
The sheep on the farm, as unintelligent as they are, that came running towards me knew that anyone wearing a green sweatshirt would care for them. The person in green would give them water when they were thirsty, shelter from the sun when it became too hot, pasture where they could graze at peace, and make them secure at night in a shed away from prowling predators.
How much more can we trust in the Almighty God who is our shepherd?
The sheep on the farm knew a green-shirted person was worth following, running after even. That day, I had a small insight into the loving relationship between a shepherd and his or her sheep.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.John 10:27 (NLT)
Jesus, not just an ordinary shepherd but the loving Good Shepherd, is worth knowing and following.