In David’s most famous Psalm, he describes the many ways the Lord is a shepherd to him, providing for his needs, giving rest and restoration, wisdom to walk in His ways, freedom from fear, and the knowledge of His presence. His rod protects the sheep, and applies discipline if needed; his staff draws them away from harm. By the anointing and provision of the Lord they overcome their enemies. Goodness, mercy and life everlasting in His presence – these are His promises to those who follow Him.
Psalm 23 (NKJV)
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 100 reminds us to give thanks and praise to the Lord our God. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Isaiah 53 describes the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah-Savior who was yet to come. He has carried our sorrows and taken our judgment upon himself, as a shepherd giving his life for his sheep who have gone astray.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Peter describes how Jesus (Yeshua) fulfilled the promise of Isaiah 53, bringing salvation and healing by his sacrifice for all who believe in him.
1 Peter 2
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
In John 10, Jesus describes his work as the shepherd of his people. He is both the shepherd and the gate of the sheepfold. He speaks, and his sheep hear his voice. He leads them and brings them into abundant life in God’s presence. As the good shepherd, he has laid down his life for us, and he is risen from the dead just as he said. F. F. Bruce writes, “If he was to impart resurrection life to others, he must receive resurrection life himself, and to receive resurrection life he must pass through death.” He did this for all who believe in him, as John 3:16 declares. We are eternally secure in him; he and the Father are one.
7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. … 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
In John 17, Jesus prays that the union of life and love he shares with the Father would be shared by every believer, and that the glory the Father has given to the Son would shine through us, so that the world may know that the Father has sent His Son and loves us as He loves Him.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.