David brings his resume up before the fearful King of Israel in 1 Samuel 17:34-35. The young shepherd boy responds to the king’s question saying, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth… and struck and killed it.”
We also read that earlier David was nearly passed over by the prophet Samuel as a prospect to be anointed as future king because he was out tending the families’ sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). The reality is that David had much experience as a shepherd in his life.
Later this shepherd turned king pens the 23rd Psalms, where he articulates with great experience and understanding of the paradigm of God as the good shepherd.
As David painted this word picture of God as shepherd, he drew from the many hours and days that were spent with the sheep, whether fighting off predators or calming the sheep with his singing.
Jesus Himself declares in John 10:11-16 that he is the good shepherd and that the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. In contrast, a hireling doesn’t take ownership and has no personal connection to the sheep and does only the minimum for a pay check.
Jesus goes on to say that when the ravenous wolves come for the sheep, the hireling turns and runs for his life, whereas the shepherd gives his life to protect them. In Psalms 100:3, we read, “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
The Bible is full of references of how God as a shepherd will watch over his people and guide them along life’s journey.
I grew up with friends who were from families that raised sheep for a living, and therefore I was able to get a glimpse of the life of a shepherd. Once the snow would melt in the high mountains in late spring, they would herd their sheep up into the mountains to graze in the lush green meadows for the summer.
The journey would take them through the varieties of terrain; valleys, mountain peaks and meadows, rivers and more. The shepherds would have to protect the sheep from the wolves, bears and different predators that loomed close by.
They would make sure that those that had a tendency to wander off were kept in the fold, as well as mending the hurts and keeping the tormenting bugs from harming their precious sheep. In turn the sheep would get used to the shepherd’s calming voice as he led them to their destination.
The renowned Psalm “The Lord is my Shepherd” is sandwiched in the middle of David’s prophetic insight that I like to refer to as the “Power Trio Psalms.” Psalms 22-24 all talk about Jesus in three unique works of his life: Jesus as our sacrifice, Jesus as our shepherd and Jesus as our sovereign King coming for the saints.
In this short but powerful chapter, David’s prophetic insight is of a committed divine shepherd who leads his people through life’s journey from start to finish. Yet, the benefits only come after we have received his redeeming sacrifice for the sheep.
The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep knows their shepherd (Psalms 139:1-3) and have a growing relationship along life’s ups and downs. As our good shepherd, he has promised his sheep, his provision, his presence, his protection and his providence along the journey.
Visit Bill Virgin’s blog at www.billvirgin.com. He is a speaker, author of several books and pastor. Bill and his wife Laurie pastor Life Christian Center and have four daughters.