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

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