I Am The Good Shepherd

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1 SAMUEL 22:1-23:29 | JOHN 10:1-21 | PSALM 115:1-18 | PROVERBS 15:18-19

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Saul has gone berserk.  Outraged as he is about his son Jonathan’s giving aid and comfort to David, he is even more outraged when he learns that Ahimelek, the priest at Nob had also received David well—and why wouldn’t he—David was after all, the king’s son-in-law!  But Saul is a man possessed and cannot see reason.  He orders the priests from Nob—there were 85 in all—to be killed on the spot.

In the meantime, David is living the life of a fugitive.  But even then, he has built up a slow following, primarily his own brothers and family, and others like the one priest Abiathar, who escapes from the slaughtering that fateful day.  With this band of men, David does battle with the Philistines to save a town called Keilah, and following that, he moves from one place to another even as he is pursued by Saul.  One can imagine that it must have been this phase in David’s life that must have been the inspiration for many a psalm in which he beseeches the Lord for help.  Hiding in caves, the hill country, and in the desert, David manages to continue to escape the hand of Saul who is still determined to kill him.

In the midst of all this, there is a sweet account of Jonathan—Saul’s son and David’s best friend—who comes out to meet him.  The text says this:  16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

Turning to our reading in the book of John, we find that the Pharisees are saying this about Jesus:  “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”  And what is it that prompts them to say this?  Surely, it couldn’t be for the miracle of healing the blind man that Jesus performed the other day?  Or maybe it was that and everything else. 

Maybe it were these words of Jesus in particular that enraged them so when Jesus said:  14I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find David reiterating the power and might of a living God.  David, the psalmist, is making a point about the difference between the worship of an idol and that of a living God.  He says of those who worship idols—their many neighbors in ancient Palestine:

4 But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs that serve as food for thought:

18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
but the path of the upright is a highway.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

2 thoughts on “I Am The Good Shepherd

  1. These references in John to the voice of the shepherd/Jesus/God always remind me of how familiar and comforting my mom’s voice was (and still is!) when I was a child. In those years I used to spend many weekends at my aunt and uncle’s house. The daytime was great fun and filled with activity with my five lively cousins. But I remember feeling very homesick once I got in bed and everything quieted down. One time, when I was about 6-7 years old, I was trying to fall asleep at their house and I could hear my aunt talking in the kitchen. She is my mom’s sister and her voice sounds very similar to my mom’s. I remember closing my eyes and pretending that it was my mom who was talking in the kitchen – and that solved my homesickness problem! I think Jesus through John’s gospel is trying to evoke that familiarity and power. It was God’s “voice” through his Word that brought creation into being. His voice called Samuel and the prophets: “I have heard you calling in the night.” Jesus continues to be that voice for the people: the familiar, compelling, love-filled voice that we recognize in our hearts.

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