The Good Shepherd...and His Wandering Sheep
The twenty-third psalm is the best loved of all David's compositions; it is appreciated by people of all nations and creeds. The relationship that existed between a shepherd and his sheep was understood by the king of Israel, who in his youth led his father's flock on the hills and fields of Bethlehem. His courage in protecting the animals against the savage attacks of the bear and lion became known and later influenced King Saul to permit the youth to engage in combat against Goliath, the champion of the Philistine army.
Age sometimes impairs memory but it is not difficult to remember the events of one's youth. For example, it is easy for this writer to recall things that happened seventy years ago, but hard to remember where I put the car keys yesterday! David was elderly when he wrote this psalm. When he reminisced it was easy for him, in thought, to lead his sheep into green pastures and beside still waters. The king of Israel saw in his boyhood occupation the foreshadowing of his relationship with Jehovah.
An identical emphasis may be found throughout the sacred writings. All Hebrews were interested in sheep. Wool was made into clothing, meat satisfied hunger, trade supplied money, and sacrifice obtained forgiveness. Sheep were essential for the survival of the chosen race. It was to be expected that kings and prophets, traders and civilians, were interested in these animals. The celebration of the Passover feast regularly reminded the nation how their lives had been spared when they placed the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their houses in Egypt.
The Savior called Himself the Good Shepherd and said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). The writers of the New Testament mentioned the same theme: "Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep" (Heb. 13:20); "the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1 Peter 2:25); "the chief Shepherd shall appear" ...
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