John 10:11... I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (Provider – Caretaker)
I Peter 5:4 …and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
(Protector – Sustainer – Guide)
Hebrews 13:30 …that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. (Trustworthy – Protector)
Jesus tells us in Luke15:4-6 the parable of the lost sheep: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!”
In biblical times, shepherds were employed to tend, feed and guard the sheep. Abel, Rachel and David were all keepers of sheep. The shepherd’s equipment consisted of a scrip made of goat’s skin with legs tied, and in which was placed food & other articles. He usually carried a sling to protect himself and the sheep against wild animals. He carried a rod (stick) about 30 inches long with a knob on one end. He had a staff that looked like our walking cane, usually with a crook on one end. Oftentimes he carried a flute made of reeds to entertain himself and comfort his sheep. He led his sheep, and knew them all by name, and they knew his voice. In the villages, Jewish shepherds kept their flocks in communal sheepfolds. These sheepfolds would have had gatekeepers who knew all the shepherds who kept their sheep there. As he entered through the gate, and walked among the sheep, only his own sheep would respond to him, thus following him out to the pasture.
The Old Testament often portrays God as the Shepherd of Israel. Psalm 78:52 says, “But he made His own people go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock”; Psalm 95:7, “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand”; and Psalm 100:3 tells us, “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Then, in Ezekiel 34:31, “You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God.” Says the Lord GOD. Isaiah 53 tells us that the Messiah came to redeem His wayward flock as portrayed in verse 6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way…” Jesus fulfilled His role as our Great Shepherd (I Peter 5:4) through the New Covenant – His blood.
Psalm 23, written by King David, was a vivid tribute to his LORD – calling Him his very own shepherd. David knew the qualities that a shepherd possessed, and he eloquently penned what he felt in his heart regarding the love he had for his God. We have a beautiful picture of provision, nourishment, refreshment, protection, consolation, exaltation, and contentment as David worshiped in this very personal psalm.
David was called a “man after God’s own heart”, and I can’t help but wonder if just maybe Jesus had a special place in His heart for shepherds…