A Shepherd and His Sheep

A Shepherd and His Sheep

By Melissa Brogdon

We all have that favorite movie or book; the one you can enjoy over and over again and it never grows old. It is always entertaining and the more you watch it the rainbow of your imagination fills the characters with a richness the plot alone could never achieve. One of those movies, for me, is the sweet story of a shepherd pig named Babe. This movie came out in 1995 and its main character is an orphan piglet who was raised by a sheepherding border collie named Fly. Because of this Babe devotes his little pig life to shepherding the sheep of farmer Hoggett, his owner. The problem was that the sheep didn’t take much interest in Babe, and they chose to ignore him. So, what is a farm pig to do but learn the secret language of sheep? Brute force and asking kindly didn’t work for the stubborn sheep, so Babe had to get down to their level and speak in a way they could understand. This unorthodox shepherd knew his sheep and because of this, the story ends with the few yet perfectly timed words of farmer Hoggett, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.” Babe was finally a good shepherd. He knew his sheep, and in the end, they knew him.

In the tenth chapter of the book of John, Jesus speaks of characteristics found in well-cared for sheep: they know their shepherd, they recognize his voice, they are known by name, they trust him and they follow Him. Simply put, a good shepherd cares for and establishes a trusting relationship with his flock. We see this best played out in Psalm 23, an emotionally charged metaphor, in which themes of trust and provision extend throughout the passage. The psalm uses the personification of a shepherd and his sheep to describe the relationship between God and his followers.

Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.          

Shepherds spend their entire day caring for their livestock. They must ensure they are fed, watered, cleaned, and provided shelter. A believer is watched over by God always; God is able and willing to provide for all his people’s needs and is generous in his blessings to them. Sheep are easy prey; they are easy to confuse and overtake. Yet just as God led the Israelites through the wilderness, he leads all his people throughout the wilderness of life.
In verse 4 of psalm 23, the reader is given the visual imagery of a dark valley, riddled with pain and uncertainty. Yet the psalmist declares that he will fear no evil. He is aware that his shepherd is near, by the comfort and touch of his rod and staff. David is making a clear statement: God is what people need to survive the trials, evil, and danger of this world.

Psalm 23 is a timeless poem, etched in the heart of every believer. From the beginning of time, God has always provided for his people. He placed Adam and Eve in the perfect garden, where all their needs were met. He led the Israelites through the treacherous desert with a cloud by day and fire by night. Psalm 23 reminds every believer that they are given those same provisions and can trust in the greatest one of all, Jesus Christ. This beautiful poem, eloquently penned, rings eternally true, not only for King David, but for all who trust in the name of the One Chief Shepherd, Christ the Lord.

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