“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
Of all the animals he created, God chose to call us sheep, and in the process characterized himself as our Shepherd. “…I am the good shepherd…I lay down my life for the sheep.” –John 10:14-15. Short of having a real life experience tending sheep, (which I did seriously consider) we can understand the dynamics between sheep and Shepherd through the eyes of a sheepman. David as a shepherd uses this very imagery in Psalm 23, to speak of the benefits God’s children enjoy under His care.
- His Proprietorship.
Just as sheep carry the seal of their shepherd, David opens Psalm 23 by identifying His owner. It makes all the difference who we belong to; “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). The Lord God is our Maker. He has set His seal of ownership over us (2 Corinthians 1:22). The psalmist marvels that His life is under the care of the Architect of the Universe, and the Creator of all things visible and invisible; he proudly proclaims “The Lord is my Shepherd.”!
- His Provision
Sheep are helpless creatures that are utterly dependent on their shepherd for their daily sustenance and ultimately their survival. In his book “A shepherd looks at Psalm 23”, Philip Keller writes: “The Good Shepherd…delights in his flock…He will go to no end of trouble and labor to supply them with the finest grazing, the richest pasturage, ample winter feed and clean water.”. David said: “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2)
- His protection
Sheep are feeble, fearful and timid beings, with little to no self-defense, whose only recourse is to run when frightened. The Good Shepherd watches over his flock by day and by night ready to protect them against predators. “The Lord is for me; I will not fear…” Psalm 118:6.
- His Presence
When sheep are restless, agitated, aggravated, discontented, they cannot rest. Philip Keller explains: “nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master…put them at ease as nothing else could do…”
Society says take care of yourself, look out for yourself, and be in charge of yourself. So we live weary, restless and anxious lives. Provision has been made for us to experience security, peace, rest and the comfort God offers, when we come under His care, as the sheep of his pasture.