When I was a boy, my grandfather decided to try his hand at raising sheep. He soon learned that sheep can be led, but not driven; ewes are the leaders of the flock; and the lambs require a great deal of tender care. “I don’t know if I’m going to keep them,” he told me. “They’re a lot of trouble. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a shepherd.”
A little over a year later, he sold the sheep. After all, sheep are a lot trouble.
My mind connects this memory of my grandfather with Isaiah’s declaration that God the King acts like a shepherd instead of a military or political conqueror. What does a shepherd king look like in action? Here’s some of what I’ve found to be true from God’s interactions with others and with me:
God lives where we live, even as a good shepherd lives with the flock.
God knows us and calls us by our names, just as shepherds have done through the centuries, even to this day.
God attempts to lead us where we need to go, but God does not force us to follow.
God may pick us up and carry us for a spell when we’re too tired or weak to walk on our own.
Sometimes, I forget God is a shepherd king. Driven by fear or captured by culture, I start to think of God as a warrior king. Eventually, though, I hear Isaiah’s voice calling, Here is your God! (v. 9). Then I look and see God clad in a shepherd’s work clothes, tending to us all.
In what ways do I pose a challenge to God the Shepherd King? Can I think of times when God the Shepherd King has been there for me?
Lord, thank you for shepherding all of us, including me. Teach me your ways, that I might shepherd others. Amen.