|Depression: Tending the Flock||11th March 2012|
"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."
In these brief lines we find the manifold qualities of God the Shepherd of His sheep:
§ Actively involved in caring for us
§ Gently leading
There may be times when we ourselves think or hear others say that God is unjust, unfair or cruel. Why did God allow this to happen? We encounter depictions of human cruelty or natural disasters that cause the death and suffering of thousands. Where is God when we need Him? Well according to the text above – He is tending us- His flock, like a shepherd.
To truly understand the role of the Shepherd, we need to have an even greater understanding of His charges-the sheep. Many writers characterise sheep as feckless, timid, dependent, stubborn, dirty and incapable of self-cleansing. Without a shepherd, the sheep would constantly be in danger- which would ultimately lead to loss of life. With this in mind perhaps we can apportion blame for human calamity upon humanity rather than our creator- after all God gives us free will and when we exercise it without caution, we often end up in trouble.
God’s compassionate nature
Lamentations 3:22 provides us with the right perspective on God’s dealings with mankind: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not they are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” we are told that without the compassion of God our ultimate end would be death both temporal and eternal.
God is actively involved in caring for us
God tells Moses that He would bring the children of Israel out from under the burdens of the Egyptians and get rid their bondage and redeem them with a stretched out arm and great judgements” (Exodus 6:6). We see God intimately involved in their rescue: with warnings, plagues, the Red Sea parting into walls of water; providing “bread from heaven”, accompanying them on their journey as “a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 14:19,20), and eventually bringing them to the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
God as our Comforter
It is important that we see God as our comforter and not as one who is indifferent to our suffering. We find examples of God’s comfort throughout the bible and personified in the life of Christ on earth: his compassion for the poor, his companionship with publicans and sinners and his healing of the sick. In the Old Testament God sends ravens to feed a fearful Elijah, restores the kingdom to a humbled Nebuchadnezzar and sends a 4th companion to accompany the 3 Hebrew boys in the near death experience of the fiery furnace.
God who leads us
God is our king and leader. In Deuteronomy we find Him warning the Children of Israel against following the ways of the heathen nations in desiring a king. True to our human nature it wasn’t long before that was exactly what happened and Saul the first in the line of many kings was chosen. It is our lack of faith, trust and obedience that leads to “lean on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Through Moses, God was intimately involved in leading the Children of Israel through fire and cloud from Egypt and apostasy through the wilderness to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. In the affairs of David a man after God’s own heart, we see victory after victory that resulted from David’s surrender to God’s leading.
Like the portrayal of the shepherd referred to in the scripture above, God desires the very best for his charges: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).
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