“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10 NIV
THE SIGNIFICACE OF THE SHEPHARD AND THE SHEEP
Long before he became a giant-slayer, years before he became a king – David was nothing more than a shepherd boy keeping watch over his father’s flock by night. The story of the young David is so extravagant. David himself so compassionate, mirroring the story of the Messiah to come. A boy with humble beginnings – regal and ordinary all at once – clearly God had chosen David very carefully. He would eventually be named in the lineage of the Christ, his life’s story beginning with a striking resemblance to the character of the Good Shepherd.
While David was in so many ways a prophetic glimpse of Love in the Flesh . . . David had no way of knowing that. David’s brothers were warriors. They spent their days fighting in the fields. David spent his days fighting off flies. This seems like it could have spurred a mean bout of sibling rivalry! But David found no insignificance in the task set before him. In fact, it was just the opposite. The sheep made David feel significant. While everyone else was out fighting and doing things that brought the praise of the world . . . David only wanted the praise of the sheep.
I imagine David spent his days wandering the lush green hillside. His nights were probably spent half awake and half in slumber.His eyes fixed hard on the fence lines. Before the days of electric fences and modern technology keeping watch over your flock was a full time job. After all there were no “This sheep is protected by an anti-theft system” stickers!
During this time sheep farmers were about as plentiful as Toyotas. Thus not only did you need to WATCH your sheep well. You needed to know them well too. David probably knew every sheep down to the knots in its wool, its mannerisms and personalities. This said a lot about the importance of the sheep in his pasture. The Old Testament world was violent, even a little scary. Even so, David’s focus stayed fixed on the sheep until the appointed time came to defeat the giant.
The Bible tells us so much about the role of a shepherd and the importance of his sheep. The Psalmist David described our Father God in a way that resonated with his heart. We are “the sheep of His pasture – His people.” Knowing the understanding a shepherd boy would have David was trying to say we were of the utmost importance. His eyes were ALWAYS on us. He KNEW us. We were EACH unique to Him. He LOVED us all as individuals not just one great big mass of people.
Matthew 9:36 gives us a very accurate glimpse of Jesus of Nazareth as He walked about the villages preaching the gospel and healing the sick. When Jesus looked out on the crowd He did not see their sins. Instead He saw that they had been outcast and rejected. They wanted to belong. He wanted them to know they did. They belonged to Him.
Jesus said “I am the Good Shepard. I lay down My life for the sheep.” What a humbling statement that is. The Good Shepard, the Lamb of God, was moved with compassion for us. James 2:20 tells us “Faith without works is dead.” Our Savior was NOT dead. His compassion was not stagnant. It was an ever moving prophecy of purpose, love and majesty that took him forward from birth and saw Him through to Calvary. Jesus Christ was indeed the Good Shepard, the Lamb of God. He was sent as a lamb to the slaughter so that His sheep could be saved.