But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness. He kept them safe so they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies. He brought them to the border of his holy land, to this land of hills he had won for them. He drove out the nations before them; he gave them their inheritance by lot. He settled the tribes of Israel into their homes. But they kept testing and rebelling against God Most High. They did not obey his laws. Psalm 78: 52-56 NLT
The imagery of God as our shepherd is found throughout the bible. It must also be a comforting image because the 23rd Psalm is often read at funerals. But what does this imagery really mean for us?
It means we are dumb animals. We are just looking for something to eat or drink. We are easily frightened and not very obedient. We tend to know our shepherd's commands, however, and don't easily follow one who is not recognized as our shepherd. But if we stray from the flock, we are pretty much doomed. We can't find our own grass or water. We can be prey to many wild predators as well as in danger from the pitfalls of the land itself.
In Psalm 78, the imagery of God leading God's people as though they are sheep is very true. The people had just been released from slavery and had absolutely no idea of where they were going. Yet, even though God kept them safe, they still rebelled and tested God. They were still dumb animals.
God, help me to act more like your follower than just a dumb animal. I know I have tested you, failed to follow your laws and rebelled. Forgive me. Continue to have mercy on me and guide me. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims