Bible Society of South Africa

A soft spot for shepherds - 3 October 2023

By Imogen Campbell

Bible text(s)

20You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened.

Genesis 50:20GNBOpen in Bible reader

God has a soft spot for shepherds, wouldn’t you agree? The Good Shepherd has used shepherds to do his bidding and accomplish his will throughout the Bible.

One of the most famous young shepherds of all time, a man described as ruddy and handsome in appearance shepherded his father’s flock; a man after the Good Shepherd’s very own heart; took down a giant of a man, Goliath. Eventually, David, son of Jesse, became the King of Israel, on whose throne the King of kings and King of glory was destined to sit.

During the time of the patriarchs, another one tasked with tending of his father’s sheep was betrayed by his brothers in order to fulfil a much grander plan. Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt and made a way for the repugnant shepherds of Canaan to be settled in Goshen, the best part of the land. Green pastures if ever there were.

Despite the betrayal and suffering of Joseph, God’s plan was for the good. Goodness and the shepherd motif seem to be intertwined. Genesis 50:20 gives us more than an inkling: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

We stand in awe as we think of the shepherds who watched their flocks that night, among the first to hear about the miraculous birth of the Shepherd. And the glory of the Lord shone around. The Good Shepherd had been born into this world to come and set his sheep free from the tyranny of sin, from its depravity and the harm that it wreaks on our lives.

The Shepherd and Saviour of our souls loves the sheep. He became a sacrificial Lamb for the lives of his sheep, but not before becoming like one of his sheep; God in the flesh – Immanuel. He knew, like sheep, humankind had all gone astray. They needed a shepherd.

In Matthew 9:36, the Bible records that when the God-man, Jesus, saw the crowds, he lamented that they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. In the world we live in today, it is easy to feel harassed and helpless. Perhaps, like days of old, we need the Shepherd of our souls all the more in these turbulent times. After all, the Good Shepherd leads, protects and delivers us.

Prayer: Thank you for being the Shepherd of our souls and for coming to be the sacrificial Lamb on our behalf. Amen

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