Overseeing the Sheep

December 7, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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In the last part of I Peter Chapter 4, and into Chapter 5, we move from preparing for glory through “regular” persecution and suffering to preparing for glory through “official” persecution – intense suffering. When the intense suffering comes, it will be important to have properly prepared overseers (church leaders who recognize that they are under the authority of the true Shepherd and in authority over the sheep). This applies to the heads of families (fathers and husbands primarily) as well as church leaders.

1. The overseers will need to be personally involved with the Shepherd, and willing to share what He’s given them.

2. They will need to have a deep and abiding love for the sheep.

3. But they will have to have a desire to please the Shepherd, not the sheep.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

I Peter 5:8-9

Resist Satan with Scripture. Don’t discuss things with him.

Are You Feeling Sheepish?

June 6, 2012 at 10:03 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 (emphasis added)

Christians are like sheep, and the Lord is like our shepherd. His presence is comforting to us, but sheep must stay close to the shepherd. We must stay close to the Lord in the green pastures (times of freedom) and especially in the dark valleys (times of caution). Sheep can be preyed upon by wolves and lions. Wolves and lions do not fear sheep. They fear the shepherd. Stay close to the Shepherd at all times.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

In the presence of our Lord we are not only safe, but we may be bold – even when our enemies are also present. The dual presence of our Protector and our enemies is not cause for fear because our Protector is far stronger.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

Our Shepherd sanctifies us. He cleanses us, because, like sheep, we have a tendency to get very dirty. In Bible times, shepherds applied oil to their sheep to help keep insects and pests away.

It is somewhat embarrassing for us as human beings to see ourselves compared to helpless and unintelligent animals like sheep so often in Scripture, but we share many sheep-like characteristics:
-Sheep need reassuring. We need to be constantly reminding ourselves of God’s promises.
-Sheep get sick. We tend to get sick spiritually, finding ourselves repeating our mistakes, discouraged, unfocused.
-Sheep often need help from their shepherd when giving birth to their offspring. We are powerless to evangelize and disciple new believers without our Shepherd’s help.
-Sheep get tired and have to be made to lie down (Psalm 23:2). Our Shepherd often has to forcibly take away our distractions and place us into a place where we can be still, rest, and meditate on spiritual things.
-Sheep are responsive to their shepherd’s voice. We are guided, directed, and instructed by the Word of our Shepherd.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

John 10:3-5

Sheep do not see well.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 (emphasis added)

A staff, as well as a rod, is needed. The shepherd’s “rod” is what we would think of as a “cudgel” or a “club.” The staff has a hook on the end. The rod is for clubbing attackers and the crook is for guiding, and for rescuing from dangerous places. In Bible times sheep would also pass under the staff each night for examination by the shepherd. We need to remember to ask the Lord to search our hearts each and every day.

Shepherding is hard work. It’s more than just lying around in a pasture playing a flute and writing poetry.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

It sounds like the Psalmist is changing his metaphor here. Why would sheep need a “table?” But the “table” might be a table rock – a safe, firm, flat place where the Shepherd can thoroughly examine the condition of the flock.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

Shepherds had large containers (or “cups”) for the sheep to drink from each night in the sheep-fold.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6 (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word translated as “follow” is radaph, which can mean “to pursue or chase after.” What a thrilling thought! If you are truly a Christian, God’s goodness and mercy will “hunt you down” all the days of your life!

Sheep Need a Shepherd

May 11, 2012 at 10:31 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 14 Comments
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[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

The Holy Spirit had David emphasize his conviction that the Lord is a very personal Shepherd: “The LORD is my Shepherd.” If you compare Psalm 135, you can draw a parallel to the reference to “our God” in Psalm 135:2.

“My Shepherd” in Psalm 23 is not referring to “my” in the ownership sense, for God cannot be owned by anyone. It is not primarily being used in the distinctive sense, either, as though David was saying that, “This Shepherd is my Shepherd rather than your Shepherd.” He is using “my” more in an intimate sense – the way we say “my” mother, father, wife, son, or daughter.

It is true that the Lord is “a” Shepherd, and that He is “my” Shepherd, but He is also the Great Shepherd.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Hebrews 13:20

Psalm 23 is often used at funerals, but it is not meant for comfort only when we are faced with death.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6 (emphasis added)

David had been a shepherd in his youth, so he was familiar with the job and the surroundings, but God used him to write this Psalm later in life after he had been king.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

The shadow of death had fallen across David’s path many times in his life, but death itself had not struck him down.

The Bible pictures being a shepherd as a noble vocation. Abel was the first shepherd, and he was more righteous than his brother, Cain, who was a farmer. Moses spent 40 years caring for his father-in-law’s actual sheep and another 40 years caring for his Heavenly Father’s spiritual sheep.

In the Bible God’s people are often compared to sheep because sheep are animals which need a great deal of care. They are defenseless without their shepherd, the way that we – without God’s help – we will be overcome by the enemy. Sheep get lost easily, the way that we – without God’s help – will go astray. Sheep need constant care, and there is never a time when we don’t need God’s care. Sheep are led, not driven, and we, too, must follow our Shepherd at all times. Sheep are dependent upon a shepherd, and we are not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord.

[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1 (emphasis added)

With the Lord as my Shepherd I shall not lack any good thing. He provides for my needs. Even if the fridge is empty and the cupboard is bare, even if the lights are off, I still don’t “want” or “lack,” because He knows the difference between my “needs” and my “wants” (desires).

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psalm 23:2 (emphasis added)

Shepherds in ancient Israel would dam up rushing streams from which sheep are afraid to drink. This would create a calm reservoir of water for the sheep. The Lord gives times of peacefulness to His children.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:3 (emphasis added)

The Lord provides times of spiritual and emotional healing. Someone with a broken body can be consoled, but how do you console someone whose spirit has been broken? Only the Lord can do that.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:3 (emphasis added)

These are well-worn paths that the Shepherd has determined will be safe for us. The Holy Spirit must order our steps if we are to walk with the Lord.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

“Trust and Obey,” John H. Sammis


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