Father, the picture You paint for Zechariah of Your people is “the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd”. Many times sheep get themselves into trouble on their own. They wander away, eat what they shouldn’t, become prey for wolves or lions. They get caught in thorns, fall into deep water, or become lost. But no danger is greater than that of not having a good shepherd.
A shepherd provides for his sheep in so many ways. He looks out for them. He prepares good pasture by removing noxious and poisonous weeds before the sheep get there. He makes sure the area has sufficient clean, still water for them to drink. He protects them from predators, and goes after them when they wander off. He carefully examines them to see if they are in need of medicine to keep them healthy and free from parasites. He provides shelter from inclement weather and moves them to new pastures before the grass becomes over-grazed; or to completely new areas when the weather turns too cold.
Israel’s priests and leaders were not being good shepherds to the people. And You pronounced “Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock!”
But blessed am I – for You are my Good Shepherd! You do not turn me over for slaughter. “You are the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – You remain faithful forever.”! When I get into trouble, You answer my call and come to my rescue. When I wander, You call me back. I know Your voice because You have called me by name, and I have learned I can trust that voice. You give me the Holy Spirit that speaks to me and warns me away from poisonous things that would make me sick; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You protect me from the evil one who prowls around like a predatory lion looking for someone to devour.
When I get caught in thorny situations, You provide a way of escape. If I will but keep my eyes and ears open for Your leading, I will see the way out. When I fall into deep water, or walk out there on my own, You are with me in the water, and You do not let the flood overtake me. You are my Help! You are my Hope! You are my Good Shepherd. And “I will praise You all my life”. Amen