Bible Society of South Africa

The Shepherd loves his sheep - 5 October 2023

By Imogen Campbell

Bible text(s)

11He will take care of his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs together

and carry them in his arms;

he will gently lead their mothers.

Isaiah 40:11GNBOpen in Bible reader

Many have remarked that sheep are not the brightest of animals. It might explain why some people have vehemently expressed disdain at being likened to sheep. Nobody wants to be compared to those who are regarded as a bit daft.

Surely, humans are a cut above? If only we were. We have much the same tendencies as sheep: we wander off when we should be following the shepherd and often lack self-awareness. Then much like a cast sheep, often find ourselves flat on our backs unable to get ourselves up and out of nasty situations. Hastily, we cry out hoping for a shepherd to come and rescue us.

I can only imagine how much time the shepherd spends just watching these animals; making sure that he knows exactly where they are, getting to know their tendencies and personalities in order to be prepared for any trouble they may get into.

God is a lot like that, he watches over us and knows each of us so intimately: which one is likely to be adventurous and stray off the cliff of disobedience or which one tends to respond fearfully and need extra reassurance. He knows our hearts and every inclination. He made us after all.

Isaiah 40:11 shows just how God cares for us like the shepherd takes care of his sheep. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

The picture is one of such tender, nurturing love. Not unlike Jesus expressing his heart of wanting to gather the people of Jerusalem together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

He is so protective of us and desperately wants us all in his flock, safe and sound. According to various sources, Middle Eastern sheep pens of old did not have a gate or a door. The shepherd himself took on that role.

John 10:9 records the words of Jesus. He said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” He is our Saviour. Only when we wilfully disobey and wander off away from the safety of our sheep pen and Saviour, do we open ourselves up to the sometimes deadly consequences that come with sin.

Indeed, there is an eternal plan for each of us, but we need to make him the Shepherd of our souls first and come into the fold of God’s flock. Then we can bask in the love of the eternal Shepherd and enjoy all he has to offer – more than we deserve and much more than we can ever imagine.

Prayer: Dear God, how privileged we are to know such love. Thank you! May we generously share this love with others. Amen

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