The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In my dad’s office is a collection of sheep. Not real sheep, mind you, but an assortment of stuffed animal sheep. Kids love them. Whenever people come over to meet with him, if they have kids, the young ones have fun playing with the sheep while the adults talk. After all, sheep are really cute.
That’s the image we have of sheep, isn’t it? They’re adorable, and they have virtually no responsibilities. They eat grass, they walk around and they look fluffy and cute. But if you get up close, you find out some other things. Like they smell really, really bad. And they’re noisy. And they’re not very bright. In fact, sheep are rather dumb animals who have a great talent for attracting wolves. Let a sheep go unattended long enough and you’ll learn that they can get lost quickly and that a lost sheep is a wolf magnet that makes for an easy meal.
That’s why sheep need a shepherd. The shepherd looks out for all of his sheep, but sometimes that involves a little bit of pain. Today’s scripture talks about the “comfort” of the rod and the staff. To the sheep, it might not feel very comforting at first. The shepherd will often have to use a rod to smack the sheep to get its attention. And other times he’ll have to use the crook on the end of his staff to yank the sheep by its neck to pull it back out of danger. Both of those things can be painful, but they can also save the life of the sheep.
God says that we’re His sheep, and He’s our shepherd. Without God, we’re likely to get lost in the world, and we’re easy prey for the world’s wolves. These are people who will undercut your faith in different ways that might include:
- Those who seek to part you from your money, and might even convince you that your salvation depends on how much money you give.
- Others who seek to rob you of your purity. They use sweet words and flattery to gain your confidence, and then use that friendship to steer you into an inappropriate relationship.
- And others who aren’t happy until they’ve divided the flock. They look to spread unhappiness and dissent among the sheep, and can eventually tear a church apart simply by finding fault everywhere they look.
Basically, a wolf isn’t interested in you getting close to the shepherd, Jesus. They want you closer to them.
In the next few days, focus on being a good sheep. Look for ways that the Lord might be trying to get your attention, and see where he seems to be leading you. Pray that He will keep you close and protect you from the wolves that would seek to pull you away from Him.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.