Saturday, November 2, 2019

Shepherdly Love

Last week I wrote about God’s maternal love, the love he shows us that is like a mother’s love, “a wise, capable, strong, patient, kind, no-nonsense, deeply loving mother.” It started me thinking of other metaphors for God’s love, and the first one that came to mind was the image of a shepherd, his “shepherdly” love.

There are so many verses about Jesus as a shepherd, I could write about them for weeks! The first one I thought of -- and probably you did, too -- is Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” A few others:
  • in John 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
  • in 1 Peter 2: “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
  • in Luke 12: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
  • in Isaiah 40: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixaby
Years ago I heard a sermon about Psalm 23. The minister noted how at first the psalmist is writing about the Lord his shepherd in 3rd person, using “he”:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Then, when he starts talking about the dark valley, the psalmist switches to 2nd person, using “you”:
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
The minister said you could imagine this as if from a little boy’s perspective, on a train ride with his dad. First the boy is a few seats away, perhaps on a different car than his father, talking about his dad to another passenger, saying, “he does this, and that, and that.” Then the train goes through a tunnel. Everything gets dark. The boy hurries to his dad’s seat and says to him, “YOU do this and that and that.” When it gets dark and scary, the child needs the reassurance and closeness of his father.

It’s easy to imagine this from the perspective of sheep or lambs, too. Trotting along on the green grass at the shore of the smooth waters of a stream, feeling good (“feelin’ groovy...”), confident, walking ahead of the shepherd. Then they go into a valley. High hills block the sun. It’s dark and cold, the sheep cannot see what might be ahead. Now the sheep draw closer to the shepherd, perhaps walking beside or behind the shepherd, making sure they see his rod and staff.

Like a shepherd, God guides us. In times of trouble, when we are scared or unsure of the future, we want to be close to God, to listen for his footsteps, see his rod ahead of us, like Gandalf leading the way through the dark mines of Moria (“The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien).

Like a shepherd, Jesus cares for us, nourishes us, knows us, loves us. May you be filled with the shepherdly love of God, now and forever.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Mines of Moria by Gellihana-art
PS - If you would like to read more about Jesus’ Jewish culture and the Bible from a Hebraic perspective, check out Lois Tverberg’s blog, "Our Rabbi Jesus, His Jewish Life & Teaching," She has also written several books -- links in the blog. I thought this was an excellent article, “Discipleship: What Sheep Can Teach Us,” Lois Tverberg, January 14, 2013. There are many more.

What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..
. If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at I'll keep all communication confidential.

No comments:

Post a Comment