walk in the word
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. —Isaiah 53:6-7
Sometimes we forget the implications of the first verse in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” If the Lord is our Shepherd, that must mean we are sheep. The prophet Isaiah certainly thought so. His description wasn’t selective. Not, some of us like sheep, but all of us “like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.”
Isaiah’s description begs the question, “How are we like sheep?” Frankly, the comparison is not a pretty picture. We can’t say a lot of flattering things about sheep. But the Lord calls Himself our Shepherd because we really are like sheep.
First, we are prone to follow. Put a flock of sheep in the middle of a lush, green pasture, turn your back on them for five minutes, and they’re poking their noses under the fence. Human beings have a herding instinct too. We wear what our friends are wearing, talk like everyone around us is talking, and go where everyone is going. And we are so trusting, particularly when it comes to bad advice. Sheep are like that—going astray while following others who are wandering.
Second, we’re like sheep because we’re vulnerable. I remember going to my grandpa’s farm when I was little and noticing how most farm animals get along pretty well without human supervision. Chickens, horses, pigs, and cows can handle their surroundings on their own. Not sheep. They get a shepherd—because they need one. Like sheep, we are unstable, weak, and require constant care and protection.
Third, we are stubborn. We want to do things our way. If I have learned anything from teaching God’s Word, it’s that people are stubborn! You can tell them the same truth over and over, but they often require a harsh reality check before they realize how far they have wandered. We’re stubborn. We are like sheep.
Isaiah put together the common factors between us and sheep. “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Without a shepherd, we’re lost. We truly have gone astray. That little phrase defines how many of us live much of our lives, not being where we should be or doing what we were designed to do. God wants us living in ways that are best for us, but we wander off on tangents and end up far from a great life. We miss the path and stray from His guidance.
Since we are like sheep, it’s such great news that we have a Shepherd. Jesus gave His life for us, saving us from being eternally lost because of our sin. As Isaiah put it, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Having taken our sins, Jesus is willing to lead us every day. Are you His sheep? How are you acknowledging Him as your Shepherd today?
Lord, thank You that even though we are embarrassingly like sheep in so many ways, one way we’re not is that we can talk to You. You gave us the priceless gift of communication with each other and with You. We can come to You with worship and praise, knowing that You delight in our expressions of gratitude. Today I give You eternal thanks for being our faithful Shepherd. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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