He is like a shepherd feeding his FLOCK, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.
Fluffy, clean sheep can be found on many of our Christmas cards. They look cute and comforting. For the people of Israel the image had different connotations; shepherding a flock was a matter of life and death. The shepherd’s livelihood depended on finding good pasture, guarding from predators and protecting the ewes and their lambs. The shepherds took on every danger themselves so that their flock would survive.
In the biblical imagination the shepherd has come to symbolise something of the strength and mercy of God. Judah has experienced a time of trial in Exile. Now they will experience the tenderness of God’s care. All past failing are forgotten and God will think only of the care and protection that is needed for their flourishing.
On a hillside in Bethlehem shepherds watched through the night. The well-being of their flock depended on their watchfulness. That night their watching turned to wonder as God’s glory was revealed.
Are there places in your own life where you are called to shepherd?
(Isaiah 40:1-11, Tuesday, Week Two)