Martinus Antonius Kuytenbrouwer from Wikimedia Commons
The Lord is my shepherd -Psalm 23:1
King David had come a long way. From the obscurity of being the last son of Jesse living in the fields tending sheep, to the great halls of power as a military leader and King of Israel. It was a meteoric rise.
Yet, from the beginning, he recognized God protection. When David was told to bring food to his older brothers, he sees the Philistine giant, Goliath, mocking the troops of Israel. When He tells King Saul that he could defeat Goliath, Saul is dubious. David tells him how he defeated bears and lions with God’s help. If he could defeat those, why couldn’t he take out a 9-foot giant? (1 Sam17:34-37).
Bears and lions are no laughing matter. When you are alone in the darkness of an open field, you never know where they are coming from. They are fast, powerful and vicious. And, David didn’t have a shotgun. Instead, David had big cajones and an undeterred trust in God. That faith was rewarded by God’s faithfulness to protect him.
Protection is just part of the role of being a shepherd, though. There is so much more to this vocation. Finding food and water for the flock, helping them cross hills, valleys and streams, checking them and taking care of injuries, and rescuing them when they got lost. As if this wasn’t enough, it was a 24/7 job.
A shepherd can never let his guard down.
And so it was for David. While He was tending to the sheep, all of his senses and attention were devoted to the sheep. There was no ‘down time’ or ‘mental health days’.
I would hazard to guess that you are not a shepherd. I’m not either, so it is hard to imagine the emotional, mental and physical strain it takes on a person. However, if you are an overseer of staff, students, a congregation or children, you know the feeling of having to be responsible for the well-being of others.
After a while, it can take a toll. You may not even be aware of the stress you are dealing with. It is not just about taking care of yourself, but having concern for each of the people in your charge, as well. Those people can be compliant, defiant, or wild in many ways. Most people are a combination of these and other elements, too.
Although caring for people and straightening out issues is part of the vocation, you are also called to protect them. You need to be aware of potential threats to their well-being from without. This is most clearly seen in parenting.
You know what is bad for your child. You are aware of the threats. You do all you can to protect them from those threats. It is on your mind day and night. There is no break or rest from your job. Even when you hand your kids over to family, there remains the concern because you don’t know what they may be exposed to.
There is no rest for the weary.
David knew that he needed sanctuary. He didn’t have a vice-president that he could temporarily hand the reigns over to. He didn’t have the opportunity to take a two-week vacation to Cabo to recharge his batteries. He had to find relief elsewhere.
He found it in the Good Shepherd. He found rest in the one who says “Peace”. He laid his burdens before the Lord, and the Lord listened and carried those burdens:
1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3he refreshes my soul.
You see, even the shepherds need a Shepherd. They need to find protection, rest and restoration for their souls.
Maybe you are reading this and feeling the need for rest, too. This rest can be found in the one who entered into the locked doors of the room in Jerusalem and said, “Peace” to His frightened disciples. This rest can be found in John 10, where Jesus declares, “I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD”. This rest can be found in His wounds where he bled for your sins and the sins of those in your charge. This rest can be found in the communion table where God gives you himself to restore you and give you life.
Now, cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you. Place all of your burdens into His nail-pierced hands and know that He’s got this.
Find yourself in the words of David who needed the Lord throughout his life. Speak them out loud. You will find that eroded faith can be rebuilt through the hearing of His word.
The Lord Jesus is YOUR Shepherd. He has given His life for the sheep. You are the sheep of His hand. And, whatever circumstances you find yourself in, He will come, find you, and rescue you. Because Jesus is the Shepherd of shepherds.
To God be the glory,