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Metaphors for God – Part 3

In this blog we have been studying metaphors for God.

Today’s metaphor will be a well known one to you: God as a shepherd.

This is a common metaphor in the Bible. Perhaps most recognizable comes from one of King David’s psalm, Psalm 23, that begins…

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
-Psalm 23:1

Another time you see the God as shepherd metaphor used is in Genesis, the first book in the Bible.

Jacob is about to bless two of his grandsons. We are told that the two sons come and he puts a hand on each one of their heads and then says:

“May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham
and my father, Isaac, walked—
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life, to this very day,
the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—
may he bless these boys.
-Genesis 48:15

How neat is it that Jacob, a grandfather who has lived a long life, wants his grandsons to remember their God as, “The God who has been my shepherd, all my life, to this very day…”

How exactly is God like a shepherd?

Let’s learn a bit about what shepherds were responsible for since we are not around them as much these days.

This work of a shepherd included at least three main activities.

1.   A shepherd leads the sheep to places they could eat and drink.

Think back to Psalm 23. Where does the shepherd lead the sheep? To green pastures and to quiet waters.

God, as our shepherd, guides us through life and leads us to places of abundance.

2.   A shepherd protects the sheep from outsiders that would harm them.

Remember David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. He fought off bears and other predators to protect the sheep.

God, as our shepherd, seeks our protection and safety.

3.   A shepherd keeps the flock together.

If some sheep start to wander away from the flock, the shepherd uses his rod to get them back on track.

God, as our shepherd, also guides the church (i.e. the flock). Not only as individuals, but as a community we rely on God to shepherd us through life.

Basically, a sheep without a shepherd is in deep trouble. A sheep without a person to lead it, protect it, and keep it with the rest of the flock would be in great danger.

Thank goodness we have a God who is our shepherd!

Spend some time today contemplating how God is leading and protecting you. Then read Psalm 23. You’ll be glad you did.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…

This Sunday we continue the purpose series. I’ll preach on the Purpose of Pondering. Is any question too big for God?

See you on Sunday!

-Pastor David

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