The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1, KJV)
Have you ever wondered why David chose to see God as his shepherd? He could have chosen any word, any description.
But David chose to see God as his shepherd.
Why? It was what David understood. David was a shepherd. As the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, he was relegated with the awful task of watching his father’s sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). No one wanted to do it – smelly sheep, isolation, long days and nights. That is what David knew growing up. That is where David spent his time growing up. That is where David returned after being anointed the next king of Israel by Samuel until he was called to King Saul’s palace.
So David understood the daunting task of taking care of a herd. He knew how difficult sheep could be.
- Sheep are highly emotional animals, being quick to panic.
- Sheep are unable to shed their thick fur.
- Sheep need plenty of grass and water to sustain themselves.
- Sheep are susceptible to illness from poisonous plants.
- Sheep are an easy prey species.
- Sheep have little to no sense of danger.
So they need a shepherd to care for their safety and welfare.
- To lead them to good, fresh grass.
- To lead them away from poisonous plants.
- To protect them from predators, who will chase them to exhaustion.
- To protect their health and provide medical treatment.
- To shear their fur.
- To keep them from straying away into danger.
- To find and return the lost to the flock.
- To guide them to water.
David knew God was so much more compassion and connected to him than his natural father. God was fully invested in David’s present well-being and future destiny. Just as David was invested in his father’s sheep. David probably cared more for the sheep than he did for his own well-being.
So God was his Shepherd. His provider. His protector. His leader.
Many years later, there was a man named Peter, a simple fisherman who was called away from his nets to walk with Jesus. Three years later, Jesus gives Peter a charge. Peter is still reeling from denying his best friend three times just before His crucifixion. And now is his chance for redemption. Jesus asks him to lay down his fishing nets … and pick up a shepherd’s staff. Because Jesus needs a strong leader to fish for hearts and to help lead people to life change.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Peter, as an important leader in My new movement, I am giving you the charge to take care of everyone.
– Feed my lambs. Make sure to watch out for the new converts, those who have just put their faith in Me. Those who are young in their faith, inexperienced in holding fast to their faith, and those who are unaware of the challenges they will face. Teach them how to be bold in the face of adversity. Pour the truth of who God is and how much God loves them into them.
– Take care of my sheep. Everyone following Me will need care – for their hearts, their emotions, and their thinking. They will be tempted to turn away to a life of ease and convenience. Help them to see that though My narrow way is hard, it is more than worth it for the eternal value. Help them to focus on the goodness and grace I offer them for all situations, which will get them through any trial they will face. Help them to remember that I am helping them shed their old ways and will provide them with a new, fresh, revitalizing way that will sustain them day after day.
– Feed my sheep. They are going to need the same care that sheep need. They will need someone to comfort them in their doubts, assure them in their fears, and guide them in their confusion. They will need someone to remind them of the empowering truth of My words and the sustaining power of My love – especially as they face the wrath of Rome and those outside of the faith. They will be tempted to eat from the gods of the world and drink from the cups of self-empowerment – they will need someone to remind them that only I, the one true God, can provide them with the bread of life and living water.
Help them remember Peter that life is so much bigger than this day.
Help them remember Peter that I am always with them.
Help them remember Peter that only I can give things that last beyond the moment.
Help them remember Peter that I can heal all their broken and bruised places.
Help them remember Peter that I can heal and redeem their hurts.
Help them remember Peter that I am always with them.
Help them remember Peter that I feel every pain and see every tear.
Help them remember Peter that I have unconditional love for them.
Help them remember Peter that My Son died for them.
You are the right man for this job, Peter. Because you, more than anyone, understand the power of My forgiveness and the extent of My grace.
Watch out for everyone who calls Me Father.
Make sure those who are new understand.
Make sure those who are not new remember why.
And keep an open hand and an open heart to anyone who is searching.
Be like My son David.
Be a shepherd.
Make sure My sheep are well cared for.
And I will be with you, just as I was with David. And if you lean into Me as David did, there will be no limits on your love for those I send your way.
Today, you also have the opportunity to lean in to His grace and be a shepherd to those He brings into your life. Will you choose to love greatly?
Marie Fremin. 2/17/19, 3/1/19, 3/2/19.