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Bible verses about Shepherding the Flock
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 23:6

This psalm began with the sheep, as it were, bragging across the fence to his neighbor. Through the course of the psalm, we went through the cycle of a year, and in this last verse, we find ourselves back again at the home ranch. The sheep is speaking about his shepherd's house, which is not up on the high tableland but down where the home ranch is.

The psalm began with a buoyant, "The LORD is my shepherd!" and it closes with an equally buoyant, positive note. The sheep is utterly satisfied. He is saying, "Boy, I love it here! Nothing will get me out of this outfit! You see, I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

We have come full circle with the sheep giving a statement of composure and contentment. In Ephesians 2:19, the house is defined as the family of God, of which Jesus is the Head.

Do our neighbors see us as being contented, happy, at peace? Do they see the effects of our intimate relationships with God in our lives? Are we good witnesses for His way? That is the question we are to ask ourselves as the psalm ends.

The sheep proclaims, "I will dwell in the presence of the LORD forever," concluding this poem of praise and thanksgiving of the sheep for his shepherd. The sheep had experienced life in the shepherd's care, and he wanted more of it! That thought should be a guiding beacon for us the remainder of our lives, as long as they might be—that it is our fervent desire to dwell in the presence of the Lord always.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 3)


 

Ezekiel 20:37-38

Notice that the sheep pass under the rod. Besides being an instrument of both offense and defense—the rod was, in effect, a two-foot club—it also functioned as a tool, under which the sheep passed. What does this picture? First of all, it pictures counting. The shepherd would count the sheep in his flock to make sure they were all present and accounted for.

It pictures something else too. As the sheep passed under the rod—a symbol of the Word of God—they would undergo a close scrutiny. The shepherd would run his rod backward or across the grain, as it were, of the wool. The rod separated the wool, allowing the shepherd to look down onto the sheep's skin. He was then able to see both the quality of the skin and of the wool.

God is illustrating that by means of His rod, He is giving us careful, close scrutiny for two reasons: One, it gives Him the opportunity to evaluate the quality of His sheep. Two, it provides a means of separation. Quality and separation are the two reasons for His scrutiny of us.

Recall Matthew 25 and the separation of the sheep and the goats. The rod aids in identifying or making sure of possession. Sheep's ears were often bored through or distinctively notched as a mark of identification. Sometimes, since the shepherds could not always see that identifying mark due to several flocks being mixed together in the pasture, they would make the sheep pass under the rod. When they did, the shepherd would flip back the ear to see the mark of possession. Again, it also gave them a chance to evaluate and determine the relative health and quality of that sheep.

We are all under the rod right now. Now is the time of our judgment (I Peter 4:17), and we are under evaluation to determine to whom we really belong: God or Satan. Who is our shepherd? The rod is a vitally important instrument for a shepherd. No good shepherd would be without one.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 3)


 

John 10:4

A sheep pen often held several flocks, with each flock having its own shepherd. When the time came to take his flock to its pasture, each shepherd separated his sheep from the others by making a unique call. Instead of driving them, he led them, and they followed him as one unit. The shepherd always went before them to guide them to the most beneficial pasture and to protect them from danger.

Jesus' references to the sheep are personal: "His own sheep" (verse 4), "My sheep" (verse 14), and "other sheep I have" (verse 16). Everyone is owned by the Creator God. The Father is the "Author of Creation" (Isaiah 40:28; 43:15), and the One who later became known as the Son, Jesus Christ, is the Word, through whom Creation was brought into existence and the work done (Psalm 102:25; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-19; Hebrews 1:2, 10; Revelation 4:11). As such, His sheep are very familiar to Him and bear the mark of ownership—unconditional obedience and submission.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)


 

John 10:14

Jesus says, "I know My sheep, and am known by My own." Both the Shepherd and the sheep are aware of this, and it enables the Shepherd to lead His sheep in the best possible way, helping them to learn what He teaches and to do what He commands. Being known by and knowing the Shepherd implies that, not only do they know His voice, but they have an intimate understanding of the way He thinks and are inclined to reflect His way of doing things. Their imitation of the Shepherd becomes automatic because the sheep anticipate his will. They become one with the Shepherd, as the Shepherd is one with the Father (John 10:15, 30). Just as full knowledge exists between the Father and the Son, the Shepherd has a complete knowledge of each of His sheep.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)


 

John 10:27-28

As the Ruling Shepherd, Jesus will return to reward His under-shepherds who were faithful in their care of the flock (I Peter 2:25; 5:2, 4). The shepherd is the symbol of the king, and in this regard, it is interesting to note how many of Israel's kings, patriarchs, and prophets began as shepherds.

Jesus does not mix His metaphors when He exhorts His disciples, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Three figures of speech combine to form the ideal kingship familiar in ancient times: the perfect king was shepherd of his flock, the loving father of his family, and commanding ruler of his country. Thus, when Jesus says with authority, "I am the good Shepherd," the qualities of shepherd, parent, and ruler are seen combined in Him (John 10:11, 14).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part One)


 

John 10:28-29

God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in each member of His church through His Holy Spirit, and by it He will also give eternal life to them (Romans 8:11). Therefore, the life given to the sheep is the same Spirit that dwells in the Father, in the Shepherd, and in the sheep. Because the Shepherd gave His life for the sheep, sacrificing all, He is able to give abundant, eternal life to them by removing the obstacle of death, the penalty for sin, by the resurrection from the dead.

No one can steal His sheep from Him because they are, in effect, in the palm of His hand (I Peter 5:6; Revelation 1:17). Nothing could be safer or more secure. The Shepherd and His Father are one, and Their grip is tightly on Their church so that even "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

Thus, with a large number of sheep, the true Shepherd may shelter them in many pens, but they are still all His sheep and all one flock. The flock does not create this unity, but because the nature of the sheep is in harmony with their Shepherd, and because their relationship to Him is intimate, they recognize and obey His voice: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Shepherd (Part Two)


 

John 21:15-17

The King James' translators blur a distinction Jesus makes by translating two different words into the single word "feed." The New King James corrects this deficiency in verse 16 by using "tend," the exact same word translated as "shepherd" in I Peter 5:2. It has a far broader application than the word rendered "feed" in verses 15 and 17. Taken together, these words reveal that a pastor has broad responsibility for the overall health and protection of the flock. Applying this principle back to physical health, good health and well-being require a multifaceted program beyond just eating good food. For instance, we must also get regular and sufficient sleep, avoid bodily injury, and maintain good attitudes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Three)


 

John 21:15-17

It is Peter who is focused upon. There were seven outstanding men on that shore, and Jesus thrust the responsibility of the care of the church on Peter—not John, not James, not Thomas, but Peter, the first among equals. Peter refers to this in I Peter 5. He had this God-given responsibility to care for the sheep.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Acts 20:28

Paul tells the elders to be careful how they shepherd the flock. He emphasizes that it is a God-given duty and responsibility. He says, "The Holy Spirit has made you overseers." Elders, ministers, are especially called out to watch over the flock, to guard it, to help it, to lead it. This is no light matter: The ones they are to help are the precious redeemed of God. Jesus Christ has given His life's blood for these people, and they are precious in God's sight. So the ministry is to be very careful how they watch over the people.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Acts 20:28-32

Regarding God's work changing its emphasis according to need and God's will, Acts 20:28-32 is especially interesting. Predicting that conditions would not always remain the same, Paul warns that significant events would trouble the church after his death. He felt it was critical that they pay special attention to feeding the flock through the Word of God, and in doing so the people would build spiritual strength. Clearly, God's focus, the church's focus, shifts occasionally to meet the spiritual needs of the church and His will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing the Bride


 

1 Peter 5:1-5

Notice all the words that suggest leading and/or following: elder(s), shepherd, flock, serving, overseers, lords, entrusted, and examples. This clearly establishes that God's church is a body in which He has placed leaders to oversee and care for His people. Further, the leadership is to provide examples for them to follow.

The Bible nowhere anticipates independent Christians in its instructions, but it always assumes the body has ministers given by Christ to provide teaching and guidance. Too frequently, people separate from one group then regroup around a person whom Christ has not appointed to teach His Word. It is not that this person cannot teach at all but that Christ has not given him the gifts to teach His people in His behalf. He was not placed in the body for that purpose. Steady spiritual degeneration within that group occurs.

John W. Ritenbaugh
'I'll Never Follow Another Man!'


 

 




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