Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Job description of a Shepherd

The 23rd Psalm

Psalms 23:1-6 (KJV)
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

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.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The 23rd psalm is one of the best known and best loved chapters in the holy bible. However, few people really understand the depth of the message that God was sending to his people by the hand of his servant David. I will make a humble attempt in Jesus name, to shed some light on the profound message that God has for us, his children.  By bringing forth the love and compassion that he sends to us in this love sonnet.

The Lord is my shepherd, by proclaiming the Lord as his shepherd David testifies that God is his leader, provider, and keeper. To fully understand this we must know exactly what it is that a shepherd does. The Shepherd’s job in David’s day as well as in Christ’s time was to take the sheep from the fold every morning, lead them to a green pasture where they would feed all day. While the sheep were feeding, the shepherd kept a vigilant watch over them the entire time they were there. If any were to wander off he would go after them and steer them back to the herd. Should a sheep get past his watchful eye and become lost, he would leave the herd, search diligently until he found it, and return it to the herd. After the feeding was done, the shepherd would lead them to the river, creek, or well to be watered. Then he would lead the entire herd home again to the fold in the evening time. Once safely back in the fold, the shepherd’s work continued, sometimes long into the cold dark night, if one of the sheep were ill, foaling, or predators were about such as lions or bears. All in all the Shepherd must meet every need the sheep have.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; a sheep’s favorite thing to do after they have eaten is to sleep. In order for sheep to lie down and sleep they have to feel perfectly safe, not sensing any danger.  Sheep learn to trust their Shepherd over time and have no problem relaxing while he is keeping watch over them.

He leadeth me beside the still water; any Shepherd worth his salt knows better than to take his sheep to a raging river. There is too much chance that the often-naive sheep may fall or jump in and be swept away by the current.

He restoreth my soul; sheep are notorious for getting into trouble, because their instincts are not too keen, the Shepherd is constantly having to rescue them from some situation they have gotten themselves into.

He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his namesake;  just like in every other occupation  there are some Shepherds who care little for the sheep entrusted to them and want to take the easy way out. However a good shepherd treats the sheep like they were his own and knows to stay on the straight path, for several good reasons,

1. On the straight path, the way is clear, not a lot of underbrush for predators to hide.
2. On the straight path, the ground is solid, leaving less chance for himself or the sheep to slip and fall.

3. Lastly, the straight path is the path he has been told to take and that is where they master of the sheep will search for him if he does not return on time.

Yes, the good Shepherd will do all these things because being a Shepherd is his job and livelihood. He is willing to give his life for the sheep that are entrusted to him and will do nothing to put them in jeopardy because his good name depends on them returning home safely.

 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with thy rod; thy staff and me they comfort me.
The valleys are probably the most dangerous place for the Shepherd and his sheep, because if a predator is going to attack it will be in the valley. The sheep of a good Shepherd never fear the valleys because they know that  long crooked staff that he carries is more than a rod for him to lean on as he walks but it is often used to crack the head of a predator and kill them if necessary.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
The Shepherd is not the only one watching the sheep, the wolf is there also, just waiting for an opportunity to have one of them for his dinner. Yet the good Shepherd spreads forth-green pastures daily for his flock, while the wolf looks on but is powerless to interfere.  
Sheep are kept more for their wool than for a source of food, a sheep’s wool can become awfully matted and dirty out there in the field. A good shepherd cleans and curries his sheep and sometimes brushes a coat of oil on them to make them shine for the sheering. This makes a healthy and happy sheep.
In closing, a Shepherd’s life is lived for his sheep. He is constantly thinking of new ways to help the grow big and strong, he is forever mindful that sheep all too often leap before they look and is there to help put them back on the right track, helping them see what they’ve done wrong but not beating them to death for it.  If a Shepherd is good to his sheep they will follow him as long as they live.
Scripture References:
John 10: 1-38
Matthew 18:11-14
Matthew 6: 25-28
1 Samuel 17: 34-36
Matthew 11:28

Monday, October 18, 2010

Abigail Woman of Wisdom


While David hid from the Murderous Saul in the wilderness, he came across and befriended some lowly shepherds. 
David had a special place in his heart for these men, because he, himself was a shepherd before joining King Saul's army. He instructed his men to keep watch over the sheepherders and let no harm come to them or their sheep. The shepherds in return shared their food and water with them and encouraged David to ask their master for provisions. David seeing this as the only obvious choice, sent his young men to the shepherd's master, Nabal.
1 Samuel 25:2-3 (KJV)
2 And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb. 

David was an honorable leader and his men trusted him completely, so when he sent them to speak with  Nabal they went without hesitation.

1 Samuel 25:4-11 (KJV)
4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.
5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:
6 And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.
7 And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
8 Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.
10 And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.
11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be

Imagine, the hurt, anger and disappointment, that these ten young men felt at Nabal's ill treatment, hungry and  discouraged they returned to tell their leader David, what transpired. David was infuriated, How could this man whom he served and protected deny him the mere staples of life? It was too much, David demanded justice! Vowing to destroy Nabal and all his house David rallied his men and set out for Nabal's house.

Meanwhile a servant who had overheard what had happened with Nabal ran to Abigail his wife and told her all that had transpired. "Ma'am? Miss Abigail, the most terrible thing has happened!" Running to meet him Abigail may have thought "Oh Lord, what's my husband done now!?! She carefully listened to the messenger and then got quickly to work gathering provisions for David and his men.

1 Samuel 25:18-31 (KJV)
18 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
19 And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
20 And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them.
21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.
22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
23 And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,
24 And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
26 Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the Lord hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.
27 And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.
28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.
29 Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.
30 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;
31 That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.

David was deeply touched by the wisdom and integrity of this dear woman and because of her caring and compassion his anger was diminished and her family was saved.

                 1. What New testament type, pattern, and shadow does Abigail represent?
                 2.  What  New testament type, shadow and pattern does David represent?

                 3.    What New testament  type, shadow and pattern does Nabal represent?

  How can we as Christians benefit from Abigail's example?

Use the comments section to give your answer and we will discuss the answer in our next post.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Breaking the Bread of life: Faith : Having your cake and eating too

Breaking the Bread of life: Faith : Having your cake and eating too: "Elijah was on the run, Jezebel had sworn to kill him. He was exhausted when he reached the widow's house that God had sent him to. All he wa..."

Faith : Having your cake and eating too

Elijah was on the run, Jezebel had sworn to kill him. He was exhausted when he reached the widow's house that God had sent him to. All he wanted now was a chance to rest, a cool drink of water, and just a little bite to eat.
1 Kings 17:10-11 (KJV)
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. Had he forgotten there was a famine in the land? No one had bread to spare.
1 Kings 17:12 (KJV)
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
The widow is a good example of so many of us Christians, once our material means are gone, most often, so is our faith. "We believe God just as far was we can see 'im." As mortal man our entire way of thinking is backward when it comes to faith. Man says "show me and i'll believe, God says believe and i'll show ya!"

1 Kings 17:13-14 (KJV)
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
"What, didn't he hear her, didn't he hear her say that there was just enough for her and her child?" It was bad enough that it was her and the boy's last meal, now a stranger arrives asking for to have that!" Talk about feeling forgotten and forsaken, and this guy's not only asking her to give him her last morsel of bread, but now he's asking her to believe the impossible.
"Go ahead make me a cake and your barrel will never run dry! Sure, and it's gonna rain any minute now." But wait, God had told her that he was sending a stranger, and after all this it what did she have to lose? Many times when in the midst of a trial we plead with the Lord to deliver us, yet many times we ask, never really believing that he will. I am sure this little widow mixed that cake with a heavy heart,all the while looking at her hungry boy. There it was done, he had his cake! Looking at the boy as he watched the old prophet eat the cake, maybe, just maybe there was enough for him a little cake. Returning to the barrel she dipped in, and to her surprise came up with a measure of meal! She wanted to shout but she kept her peace, there was still the matter of the oil. Walking over to the cruise she tilted it and to her surprise out poured, beautiful oil! This miracle was repeated time and again until the Lord God ended the famine.  If we press through the doubt and put God first, we really can have our cake and eat it too!!