“For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep of his hand.” Sheep? Sometimes I struggle with the multi-thousand year culture gap between the authors/teachers/prophets of Scripture and us. Sheep. Because I don’t feel like I can relate I often gloss over some of these metaphors in hopes that David will give me something applicable to my life on Sunday. David’s good for that – chewing through all the weird stuff and breaking it down for me to understand.
When Chris Tomlin wrote “Come Let us Worship” he may have been thinking the same thing. Sheep? In transferring some of Psalm 95 into a modern song, he avoided the “sheep” part. It is true that few of us can literally relate to a shepherding culture, but in taking the image out, I realized something major was missing. He had replaced the metaphor with “We will never be forsaken,” but the metaphor goes deeper.
A few other sheep metaphors from Scripture:
“ ‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 23:1
“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. “ – Ezekiel 34:22a
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16
I especially love the passage from John. “They know my voice, and they follow me.” Wow! I want to be a sheep! I want to know his voice, I want to be protected, I want to be sent!
A mentor of mine recently mentioned that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Scripture’s images for ones that “I can relate to.” If we take the time to attempt to understand and digest the images within Scripture, metaphors like “sheep” can bring us to a more glorious understanding of God’s intended relationship with us while allowing for the mystery of the many things surrounding this image which we have yet to grasp. Wow… Sheep!
For more, feel free to go to www.biblegateway.com and type in “sheep.” Browse through the different passages that use the sheep metaphor. If you want a preview to Sunday’s set of music go to restorationmusic.wordpress.com . You’ll notice that I put the “sheep” part back in the song.
What metaphors have impacted you in understanding yet still beholding the mystery of God?