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1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
And where does the good Shepherd leads us? “Beside the still waters” -- Not to a raging river (like the Kern River with class 5 rapids), where one slip would result in death (186 in 20 years). Jesus the Good Shepherd gives usthe calm water of life, leading to peace and eternal life.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Vs 3 says“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”David says the good shepherd “restoreth my soul”The word "restoreth" means to "bring back to a former or normal state." Sheep sometimes need restoration – wander off and the shepherd must come quickly or they will die. Jesus said agood shepherd will immediately go and look for a missing sheep.
Matt 18:12-13 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
From a spiritual standpoint – God’s sheep may sometimes go astray and become lost and need to be sought out and restored (as the parable states).
NextDavid says –“he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”A flock of sheep without leadership will make a mess out of selves and the land -- eat the grass down into the roots – as sheepherders say, the land becomes “sheeped to death.” A good shepherd keeps them on the move -- to get fresh grass and a balanced diet – and keep them away from diseased areas. And as with sheep, man cannot direct his own steps but must rely on a good Shepherd.
Jer 10:21-23 (talking about leaders of God’s people)
21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. 22 Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons. 23 O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Man needs a good shepherd to lead him – “in the paths of righteousness” -- righteous is not sitting idly by, but is walking by faith with Jesus – following his example in purity, in prayer, in exhortation, in teaching, in acts of kindness, in love toward another, in love for all men.
1 John 3:7-8ff Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.”
Vs 4 says “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.”
Common in sheep country for shepherds to winter their flocks in the low country and in the spring lead them up the narrow canyon valleys to the high country grazing grounds, where there is grass and water (like the old Arvin sheep trail). Shepherding sometimes involves walking through the “valley of the shadow of death” (with danger from flash floods, falling rocks, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions) where the protecting hand of a shepherd is needed.
The journey as a Christian is similar – The term “shadow of death” refers toa place of grave danger. Jesus became a light to the Gentiles living in the “shadow of death.”
Matt 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
And our shepherd Jesus leads us and guides us out of darkness and the shadow of death to salvation in the high pastures of God’s grace.
Isa 49:10 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
We are to continue to “walk through” the dark and dangerous valleys of trial, not stop like those who “sat” in darkness and shadow of death (Matt 4:16), but rather follow the shepherd. Then we won’t fear evil. And we will not be alone, “for thou art with me.” The good shepherd will always be with us – he won’t run in time of trouble like a hireling.
John 10:11-12 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth:
The good shepherd’s rod and staff is there to comfort us“thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” In the O.T. it was common for shepherds to carry a rod – Moses was a shepherd of his father-in-law’s sheep and carried a rod (Ex 3:1)
In the O.T. the shepherd’s sheep passed under the rod and were counted and inspected
Lev 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passethunder the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Sheep wool may hide blemishes, but we can’t “pull the wool” over God’s eyes -- he sees all.
And our shepherd will discipline the sheep with his rod – Jesus’ word disciplines and corrects us.
2 Tim 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
The shepherd defends and protects the sheep with his rod, and Jesus gives us comfort, knowing that he will smite our adversaries with the rod of his mouth.
Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Vs 5 says “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
A good shepherd – will prepare a good “table” (place of sustenance). He scouts out thebest feeding places and water holes, and avoids areas with poisonous plants.