Shepherd-ology: An Interactive Study of God as our Shepherd


  • It has been a HUGE week for me.
  • I have experienced immense attack both physically and spiritually.
  • I’m exhausted and have felt like a failure.

As always, God broke through these feelings and brought truth to light.

Theology is so important in our lives because even when we are down, the truth about God lives within and is stirred up by the Spirit of God.

One truth that really helped me relates to God as our shepherd.

This morning I would like us to take some time to understand this truth in a little more detail. This will be an interactive study on God as our shepherd. We will trace this truth through the Scriptures before we partake of communion together.

I’m sure we are somewhat familiar with Psalm 23 which is the most exhaustive passage on this subject, and we will look at that as part of this study.

I have entitled this little study: “Shepherd-ology”

DISCUSSION: Describe a Shepherd in Bible Times

The dress of shepherd lad was a simple tunic of cotton that was girded around his body by a leathern girdle, and his outer garment, called aba, was often of camel’s hair, like that of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4). The aba kept the boy warm, was able to shed the rain, and at night was used as a blanket in which to wrap himself.

This is a bag made of dried skin. When he left home to go and tend the sheep, his mother would put into it some bread, cheese, dried fruit, and probably some olives. It was into this bag that David placed the five smooth stones when he went to battle with the giant Goliath (1Sam. 17:40).

It was often made of oak wood and had a knob on the end of it. Into this knob nails were sometimes driven so as to make a better weapon. It was very useful for protection, and no shepherd would be without it. This was the rod that David used when protecting his sheep from wild animals (1Sam. 17:34-36). He mentions both the rod and the staff in his Shepherd Psalm (Psa. 23:4).

Interesting: The sceptre, which the ancient kings of the East usually had with them, had its origin in the shepherd’s rod. Kings were considered to be shepherds of their people. Thus, the sceptre, or rod, of the king became a symbol of protection, power, and authority.

David mentions the staff along with the rod in his Shepherd Psalm (Psa. 23:4.). It is a stick five or six feet long and sometimes but not always has a crook at the end of it. It was used like Western men would use a cane or walking stick. It is useful in handling the sheep, and also for protection.

It was a simple device, being composed of two strings of sinew, rope, or leather, and a receptacle of leather to receive the stone. It was swung a time or two around the head and then was discharged by letting go one of the strings. The shepherd, in addition to using his sling against wild animals or robbers, found it very handy in directing the sheep. A stone could be dropped close to a sheep that was lagging behind and startle it into coming along with the rest of the flock. Or if one would get away in another direction, then a stone would be slung so as to drop just beyond the straying sheep, and thus bring him back. It was the shepherd’s sling that young David used in slaying the giant Goliath (1Sam. 17:40-49).

A dual-piped flute of reed was generally carried by the shepherd. It is true that minor strains of music come from this flute, but the heart of the shepherd was stirred, and the sheep of the flock were refreshed by the invigorating music that came from this simple instrument. There can be little question, but that David used such an instrument when he was with his flock, in the same way the shepherd lads have done for centuries around Bethlehem.

Care of sick or wounded sheep. The shepherd is always on the lookout for members of his flock that need personal attention. Sometimes a lamb suffers from the rays of the sun, or its body may have been badly scratched by some thornbush. The most common remedy he uses with these sheep is olive oil, a supply of which he carries in a ram’s horn Perhaps David was thinking of such an experience when he wrote of the LORD, “You anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5)

The love of the shepherd for his sheep is best seen when times of special need call forth unusual acts of care for members of the flock. An example: Crossing a stream of water.
This process is most interesting. The shepherd leads the way into the water and across the stream. Those sheep who always walk closely with the shepherd, plunge boldly into the water, and are soon across. Others of the flock enter the stream with hesitation and alarm. Not being close to their guide, they may miss the fording place and be carried down the river a distance but will normally be able to clamber ashore. The little lambs are often heard to bleat pitifully as they leap and plunge. Some manage to get across, but if one is swept away, then the shepherd leaps quickly into the stream and rescues it, carrying it in his bosom to the shore. When they all arrive over the stream, the lambs will gambol about with joy, and the sheep will gather around their shepherd as if to express their thankfulness to him. This is the context of the verse in Isaiah 43:2 which says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isaiah 43:2).

The Nature of Sheep:

  1. Sheep need to be Kept: 1 Samuel 16:11,19
  2. Sheep need to be Fed: 1 Samuel 17:15
  3. Sheep need Protection: 1 Samuel 17:34
  4. Sheep need to be Sheered: 1 Samuel 25:16
  5. Sheep Stray & Scatter without a Shepherd: 1 Kings 22:17
  6. Sheep become Prey: Ezekiel 34:6

God’s People as Sheep:

  1. Created by God: Psalm 100:3
  2. Owned by God: Psalm 79:13;
  3. Tendency to Stray: Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 53:6

God as our Shepherd:

Based on Two Texts: Psalm 23, John 10:1-18

  1. The Lord as my shepherd: Psalm 23:1
  2. The Lord as provider of my needs: Psalm 23:1
  3. The Lord as my satisfaction and portion: Psalm 23:2
  4. The Lord as my leader: Psalm 23:2
  5. The Lord who restores my soul: Psalm 23:3
  6. The Lord as my sanctifier: Psalm 23:3
  7. The Lord as my protector and comfort: Psalm 23:4
  8. The Lord as my soothing balm: Psalm 23:5

Interactive Study of John 10