There is no more compelling image of God’s love and care for his people than that of the biblical shepherd for his sheep. Psalm 23 is the most frequently quoted piece of literature in the world. It’s because it strikes us where we need it most. We feel lost and alone in our world, alienated from the God who made us and often from each other. With each advancing year we see our end approaching. Like the Poet said, “though our hearts are stout and brave. They are beating funeral dirges to the grave.” We all yearn for and need a savior. We might not even know what we need, but we know something’s missing. We might be too proud to admit it, but it’s there in all of us. We are desperate in life for meaning, purpose, contentment, significance, and eternal security. The guiding presence of our Shepherd gives us all we need to deal with this journey through the valley of the shadow of death. Without Him we often lose our way, go astray, feed on the trash of fast-food fancies, rather than the meat and potatoes of His presence in our lives.

Psalm 78, verses 52 and 53 are clear expressions of the role of our great shepherd. The Psalmist sings, “Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid…” That’s what the Shepherd does for His sheep. He leads them to safety through the wilderness. With Him as our Shepherd we are free from all our fears.

Jesus is the “Great Shepherd” according to the New Testament. We don’t really know who wrote the old hymn, “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” but it’s often been attributed to Dorothy Thrupp. She never signed any of her hymns, and when she did, she used a pseudonym. But regardless of the author the words are compelling: “You have promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be; You have mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free. Early let us seek Your favor; early let us do Your will; blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have loved us; love us still.”

“Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun. You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:16-17)