Throughout scripture, we encounter Jehovah Rohi, the Lord Our Shepherd. Long before David penned the familiar verses of Psalm 23, Jacob acknowledged the mighty role which the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel played in the life of his son Joseph (Gen 49:24). The prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah delivered divine prophecies featuring Israel as the sheep or flock of the Great Shepherd who sought to nurture and bring them home to Himself (Ezekiel 34:31, Isaiah 40:11). And Jesus plainly stated that He was “the good Shepherd [who] lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
It may seem surprising then to learn that Shepherds were placed on the lowest rungs of Israel’s society ladder. Considered perpetually unclean because of their constant proximity to animals, the men of this profession were also often regarded with suspicion as they moved from town to town in search of pasture for their flock. Even David’s brothers looked down on him earlier in his life because his primary responsibility was watching over the family’s sheep (1 Samuel 17:28).
Why would the great God of the Universe choose to associate with the proverbial ‘scum of the earth?’ And why, we also might ask, would the great God of the Universe choose to lay aside His awesome divinity to take on the frailty of a human body?
David, with his unique perspective of the Shepherd’s life, had similar questions in Psalm 144:3-4. “Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.”
Jesus, with his unique perspective as fully God and fully man responds in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
The beauty of the Christmas story is that God extends a hand of fellowship to His creation, in whom He sees the reflection of His image. This awesome, glorious news was first proclaimed by the Great Shepherd to those Israelite shepherds most in need of this image makeover:
“’Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:10-14)
Amen! Praise God for His goodwill manifested in Jesus! Praise God and Merry Christmas!