We invite you to return every day during Advent for this devotional series
Listen to today’s accompanying audio track. NOTE: This same track will play on Dec. 21 & 22:
He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd
“Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.”
Pastor theologian A.W. Tozer suggested that “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Then Tozer added: “Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man”.
What comes into your mind when you think about God? How do you conceive Him? How do you picture Him?
The prophet Isaiah is very much concerned with how people think about God. Throughout this section of His prophecy he calls on us to fix our thoughts on God: “Behold your God!” He wants us to ponder Him, think on His nature and ways.
The first thing Isaiah wants us to know about God is “That the Lord will come with strong hand” (40:10), and “All nations before him are as nothing” (40:17). God has “measured out the waters in the hollow of his hand”, and “meted out heaven with a span” (40:12). Knowing this can help correct inadequate thoughts about the greatness of the God we walk with every day.
Then, Isaiah wants us to know that not only is God great in His power, but uses His power to rescue and tenderly care for His people. Isaiah compares God to a shepherd who is sensitive to the needs of His sheep, attentive to each one.
Isaiah’s striking prophecy of Messiah in His coming foreshadows Jesus’ tender words: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11), and “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).
Jesus was Emmanuel, “God with us”, who showed power in His meekness and humility. His parable about a shepherd seeking his lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) revealed His heart for all who “like sheep have gone astray”(Isaiah 53:6).
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus cares for the weakest among us, the most vulnerable little lambs. He also tends the nursing ewes who are burdened by the care of their young. The Shepherd knows each one of us, and is tender to our needs.
Unlike every picture I ever saw of the Good Shepherd carrying home the lamb upon His shoulder, Isaiah says He carries the lamb “in his bosom”, literally “close to His heart”. To cherish and to guard us, He holds us close to Himself.
Back to A.W. Tozer’s question: “What comes to your mind when you think about God?” Know that God is not only high and exalted, but also our tender and compassionate Shepherd. “Behold your God!”
With mention of God as our shepherd, this comforting soprano/alto duet takes us back to the “Pifa”, or “Pastoral Symphony”. This is the sound of shepherds keeping watch over their sheep by night. It is a simple melody sung over sustained notes suggesting shepherds’ bagpipes. The flow of the notes hints at a shepherd gently leading His sheep along. Roger Bullard describes the duet: “It is a warm, intimate, enfolding song, lines descending like a shepherd stooping to pick up a lamb. This is the music of the kind and compassionate Jesus.” The duet segues into tomorrow’s text with the invitation: “Come unto Him…”
- What do you sense that God might be saying to you in today’s Scripture text and music from Messiah?
- What do you want to say to God?
- Now take a few moments to be still in God’s presence.