Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. ~Psalm 80:1
Ps. 80 is a prayer for God’s help. God’s people had wandered far away from God, and they realized they needed to draw close to Him again. The psalm begins with an acknowledgement of the Lord as the Shepherd of Israel. Shepherding is one of the most arduous occupations. It requires that a shepherd give his attention twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to the needs of the sheep. He must be attentive to their needs, vigilant at all hours, and ready to rescue any sheep that wander away. This morning, let us see how God is the Great Shepherd of our soul.
There is the ROLE of the shepherd.
“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock…” One of the key roles of a shepherd is that of leading. Leading implies the giving of direction and influence. Sheep have a poor sense of direction and need a shepherd to lead them. The shepherd leads, and the sheep are to follow. Shepherds have complete oversight of every aspect of a sheep’s daily life. Sheep must follow the shepherd for their own safety. Shepherds also help feed the sheep. In the Bible, the shepherd is instrumental in making sure that sheep are led to a good food source. A shepherd is to be a feeding shepherd. David said, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” A great shepherd is careful to make sure his sheep are well-cared for when it comes to food and water.
There is the REQUEST for the Shepherd.
The Psalmist cries out, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel…” Sheep are stubborn animals, and tend to ignore the presence and role of the shepherd. However, when a sheep is in trouble, it cries out for help. We see the sheep crying out earnestly for help. It is a cry of distress. The Israelites were in serious trouble with the surrounding nations. “Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.” It is a cry of dependence. The sheep wandered off, got in trouble, and needed help. Our Great Shepherd is always listening for our cries. He knows when we get into trouble or get way over heads in our predicaments. He listens for our calls and is there when we need Him.
There is the REASONING of the Shepherd.
As the Israelites pray to the Lord, they are acknowledging the chastening hand of God that was upon them. The failures, setbacks, and losses they experienced were because of their own doings. Our Great Shepherd always acts with prudence and wisdom with His sheep. He knows that stubborn sheep have to go through setbacks in order for them to see how desperately they need the Lord. What might seem like an obstacle is an opportunity from God. What might seem like a setback is an opportunity for a solution. What might seem like trouble is an opportunity for trusting. He will allow us to falter, fall, and fumble in order to learn to trust in Him for our direction and deliverance.
There is the RELATIONSHIP with the Shepherd.
Five times in Ps. 80, the Psalmist cries for the people to be turned back to the Lord. Their relationship had declined to a very low, almost nonexistent level. After being chastened by their enemies, they longed to go back to the Lord. God allowed hardships to awaken them to the importance of drawing near to the Lord. Our Great Shepherd desires that we are close to Him at all times and not fall away. Our relationship should be close, genuine, and constant.
Are you letting the Great Shepherd lead you? Are you letting Him feed you? Are you letting Him be Lord of your life? Take a moment this morning to gauge your closeness. Draw near to Him, and let your relationship blossom.
Have a shepherded God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 2 Samuel 8-12