In yesterday’s devotional, we saw how God uses the medium of speech for His Word to be communicated to His people. Is it any wonder then that the Lord would compare Himself to a shepherd? Many years ago, I did a study on the job of a shepherd in biblical times. This comparison of the shepherd to our Lord is an absolute blessing! I pray you will receive a blessing today.
Did you know that the shepherd speaks to his sheep? The sheep actually recognize their own shepherd’s voice and won’t respond to another shepherd’s voice. (Joh 10:27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: I don’t know about you, but this brings me great comfort. A good part of Christ’s earthly ministry was spent teaching His disciples. They sat at His feet listening to His lessons and parables. He spoke to them and shared with them His Father’s will. (Mar 6:34) And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. Jesus knew they were without a shepherd and He became their Shepherd and taught them. He taught them from the Scriptures. How can the Christian hear Jesus’ voice today? Christ is known as the Word of God, therefore, it is through God’s Word that we can hear His voice! In fact, without the Word in our lives, we will make mistakes. (Mat 22:29) Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. The Word is God’s power in our lives. (Joh 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The shepherd not only speaks to his sheep, he leads his sheep and he knows each one of them, watching over them day and night. He knows each one of sheep personally – he knows each one of their markings. In fact, shepherds would name their sheep to pass the time. (Joh 10:3) To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. Does this not bring you comfort, dear Christian? Your Shepherd, Jesus Christ, calls you by name! When I was being wooed by the Holy Spirit to be saved, Jesus was saying, “Kate, come to Me”! Praise His Holy Name! After salvation, I instantly heard my Shepherd’s voice as I read the Word! The Word of God lit up like a neon sign and the Shepherd’s message was loud and clear to me. The pages of my Bible were no longer dry reading but they were alive!
Being a shepherd was was a very responsible job. The shepherd had to keep count of his sheep and give an account for any that were lost. The owner would demand to be paid for each one that was lost. (Mat 18:12) How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? In today’s mind set, one wonders why so much time would be spent looking for one lost sheep. But when a price is attached to that sheep, one can clearly understand because that lost sheep is of value to the shepherd. Christ paid for each of us with a great price, my friend – with His own life. Our Shepherd gave up His life for each one of us. As the shepherd would bring his sheep in at night, he would count them as they passed by under his hand. Each one was touched by him. Christ touches each one of us through His Word.
The shepherd also anointed his sheep’s heads with oil. The Shepherd in Psalm 23:5 anoints His sheep’s head with oil. (Psa 23:5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. The oil symbolizes receiving God’s anointing – receiving God’s grace to live the Christian life. The oil was used for medicinal purposes – being placed on a sheep’s head kept the sheep from getting sun stroke. It would also heal the bramble scratches. As Moses anointed the tabernacle (Lev. 8:10-12) and sanctified it, so should the Christian anoint himself (2 Pet. 1:14) to sanctify himself daily to serve the Lord. As we read the Word, we hear God speaking to us. As we apply what we have been taught by the Word, we become more and more set apart from the world.
As the shepherd spoke, he would lead his sheep daily to rest at noon in a quiet pasture and to a safe drinking place in the evening. Our Shepherd leads us to quiet pastures in His Word – we need to make time to graze there and be fed spiritually. We also are led to a safe drinking place in the Word of God. It is in our Bibles that we find everlasting water – we do not thirst when we live by the Word. The Bible is a living Book – bringing conviction and direction for the believer. (Joh 4:14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Not only does salvation come from the blessed pages of our Bible but when we hear the Shepherd’s voice, we follow and receive eternal life.
At dusk, when the shepherd can no longer be easily seen by his sheep, he taps the rocks with his staff to assure them he is near. This brought a whole new meaning to me as to why David said that God’s rod and staff comforted him. (Psa 23:4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The shepherd’s staff guides the sheep and his rod, or club, protects them from attacks of wild beasts. The sheep are comforted by the sound of the staff on the rocks – they know the shepherd is near and ready to protect them. When we are in the Word, we are being guided by our Shepherd, the Word of God, Jesus Christ. We can hear His staff hitting the rock because we recognize Him throughout the Bible. When we are in the Word, we are protected from the enemy. We recognize false doctrine when we read it and hear it because we have seen and heard the true Shepherd. It is said that bank tellers are trained to catch counterfeit money by having them handle and touch real money. We will recognize false doctrine because we are hearing and reading true doctrine. The more we are in the Word of God, the easier it will be for us to recognize false gospels and heresy.
The job of a shepherd was considered to be an abomination to Egyptians. (Gen 46:34) That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. Since Egypt is considered to be a type of the world, the world will consider Christ to be an abomination. (Joh 1:10) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. Why? Jesus is an abomination to the world because He exposes their sin. (Joh 7:7) The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Our Shepherd will expose our sin so that we can remove it from our lives.
What a blessed comparison this has been indeed! Our Shepherd speaks to us in His Word. His words guide us, feed us and anoint us to do His work. How beautiful are the words of our Saviour as we read the Bible each day! How can we survive without them?