The Good Shepherd – Isaiah 40

Though Jerusalem was facing times of serious turmoil, the prophet Isaiah wrote good news about a Messiah who would come to them one day as God Himself, watching over and caring for them as a loving Good Shepherd.

… O Jerusalem,
You who bring good tidings,
Lift up your voice with strength,
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.  Isaiah 40:9b,11 NKJV

Other characteristics of the Good Shepherd God were well known to the people through the 23rd Psalm.

A God who provides what we need when we need it.  A God who cares so much about us that He leads us to green pastures of peace and refreshment whenever we are wearied by the challenges of the world.  One who teaches us the good way and walks with us through all of the fears, grief, and terrors that life can bring.  We need not fear evil or the evil one, for the Lord will defend and comfort us as no other god or idol ever could.  The Lord gives us all this, and promises even more:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
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 23:5-6 NKJV

Jesus came to fulfill Isaiah’s Good Shepherd Messianic prophecy.  He later told His disciples:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  John 10:11 NKJV

Jesus laid down His life for us so that we may spend eternity in the presence of a holy and loving God, dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

There are many shepherds who come over us at one time or another.  Many were kind and thoughtful, others neglectful or mean-spirited.  But only One would lay down His life for us so that we may live.  He is the true Good Shepherd of our souls.

When I look back over my life, I see so many key decisions I made that led to an abundance of blessings for my soul.  For many of them, I was not even walking with God at the time, but He was still shepherding me. 

Most of these decisions did not lead to any great recognizable achievement or accomplishment, but they did provide the daily sustenance, partnership, love, fellowship, and encouragement that I needed.  And over time, the distracting noise of life slowly quieted enough to hear the still, small voice of the Lord, the Good Shepherd.  He is there for all of us every waking or sleeping moment. 

Starting from the seed of small beginnings, we follow the Good Shepherd step by step.  The first steps are small ones but can still be a bit unsettling.  They become easier over time as we start to recognize our daily growth and the assurance of His presence.  He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter what trial or challenge we are facing.  He will see us through to greener pastures.

Reflection

What decisions have you made in your life that resulted in a great blessing from the Lord?  Can you see His hand in it? Did you know Him at the time?

Is something happening in your life today that makes you feel like you are walking in a dark valley?  Take your needs to the Good Shepherd – He will lead you through the valley, step by step, into His light on the other side.

Oh, Good Shepherd, we thank You for being there with us, even in our darkest hour.  We trust You to take our hand and lead us through our own valleys into Your great light.  Grant us the joys of Your deliverance and love, and hold onto us now and all through eternity, never letting us go.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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