All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. —Isaiah 53:6
When reading this scripture, Isaiah makes us question, How are we like sheep? The comparison may upset some people; after all, who wants to be compared to such a smelly, vacant animal? However, the Lord calls Himself our shepherd because, though we may not always smell as unpleasant, we really are a lot like sheep.
First of all, we are followers. If you were to put a flock of sheep in the middle of a pasture and turn your back on them for two minutes, you’d find them all scattered about, poking their noses into things they shouldn’t be. Humans have a tendency towards this too. Oftentimes, we fall subject to a group mentality—we wear what everyone else is wearing, laugh at what everyone else is laughing at, and go where everyone else is going. We are also prone to be naive, trusting and following those who are not necessarily doing the right thing. Without the supervision of their shepherd, sheep may wander and end up poking their little noses in things a little too close to the edge of the cliff. Sound familiar? We as humans may wander into trouble and, like sheep, are too stubborn to put aside our way of doing things and ask for forgiveness and guidance. But however deep of a rut we feel we have wandered into, we can find peace in knowing we have a faithful Shepherd of our own: God.
Like a shepherd, God leads us. A good shepherd leads the sheep out in front of him, not from behind. There isn’t a place where the lambs put their feet that the shepherd hasn’t already walked. There isn’t a valley the sheep go through that the shepherd hasn’t gone through first. There is nothing coming into your life that isn’t terrain the Shepherd has already covered and given His full approval—including the rocky ground, the most difficult times. When you run into hard times in your life, don’t forget the Shepherd leads you through that ground. He will use it for your good and bring you through it to the place He has planned.
Like a shepherd, He protects us. Like sheep, we are incredibly vulnerable. While sheep are vulnerable to disease, weather, and predators and thieves that come to steal them, we are exposed to worldly and spiritual enemies who wish to terrorize us, harm us, or steal our focus. Sometimes these enemies tempt us to chart our own course—but our Shepherd protects us. It’s just as Jesus says in John 10:9-10: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Know that you’re reading this today because the Shepherd is leading and protecting you.
Like a shepherd, He feeds us. A shepherd’s job of taking care of his sheep is not limited to leading them and protecting them from danger, but also making sure they are healthy. For sheep, this means plenty of green pastures and still, clear waters. Our Shepherd keeps us healthy in mind and soul in countless ways by filling us with His word and spirit. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1–3) God acts as our Shepherd by helping us take hold of the abundant food He has provided to feed ourselves day by day.
Through all our trials and tribulations, we must remember that the Good Shepherd is walking with us and will protect us, his flock, from harm. He gave His life for us, to save us from being eternally lost because of our sin.
As Isaiah foretold centuries before that happened, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Having taken away the weight of our sins, Jesus is willing to lead us every day as only the Good Shepherd can.
Take time to thank God today for the ways that He is your faithful Shepherd.
Lord, thank You that even though I am embarrassingly like a sheep in so many ways, one way I’m not is that I can talk to You. I can come to You with my difficulties and needs, knowing You will care for me. I praise You for the many ways You are my Shepherd. Thank You that in Your leading, protecting, and feeding, You have never failed. Your faithfulness has never faltered. There hasn’t been, nor will there ever be, a circumstance or danger You can’t handle. I rest my life in Your care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.