Why We Need a Shepherd

When you consider the lack of formidable qualities of sheep, you might feel offended that Scripture regularly compares us to such creatures. But with such a helpless designation, we realize how reliable our Shepherd is.

Whenever you see a shepherd in the Bible, you know things are about to get interesting. Although this job is often seen as a lower-tier vocation, significant people in the Bible held it.

  • The first shepherd in the Bible is Abel, obediently providing his best (Genesis 4:2).
  • The favored son of Jacob, Joseph, was tending sheep alongside his brothers in the family business (Genesis 37:2).
  • While on the run from Pharaoh, Moses learned how to shepherd sheep (Exodus 3:1) before God called him to lead his people through similar wilderness terrain (Exodus 15:22). 
  • Before God appointed David as king, he was busy being forgotten in the less desirable job of shepherding (1 Samuel 16:11).
  • The prophet Amos was a shepherd before God called him to prophesy (Amos 7:15).
  • Out of all the people God could have announced regarding Jesus’ birth, He curiously informed a group of shepherds on the outskirts of town (Luke 2:8).

Throughout the grand narrative of Scripture, God involves shepherds at critical moments.

Why was shepherding not a sought-out vocation? Why does it often invoke a negative connotation? If you haven’t been around sheep, they aren’t the most intelligent, formidable, or obedient animals. Caring for them means someone has given you a less desired lot in life. That makes Jesus’ identification as a shepherd all the more glorious.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10:14-15

He knows that we aren’t the brightest. He is aware that we can’t fend for ourselves. He is not surprised by our lack of helpful qualities but desires to shepherd us anyway. These shepherds in the Scripture set the context to stand in awe when the Chief Shepherd came (1 Peter 5:4).