Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Significance of the Insignificant Shepherd

If there was one trade at the time the Bible was written that was despised and looked down upon, it was that of being a Shepherd. You spent all day in the fields with smelly animals. You smelled. You were never dressed well. No one wanted to speak to you, let alone see you. You were looked down on, outcast, and unloved. If something big was happening, you were the last to know.

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Except, in God's economy things are different. My pastor likes to say that our God is "a God of great reversals." He delights in using things that the world despises to work out his plan. 

This is no different than in the case of the shepherd. This morning I did some quick thinking about the role of shepherds in the Bible. Besides being the ones to take care of the passover lambs (a pretty important task), shepherds held some of the most important roles in God's plan. 

Think about it. The first of the patriarchs of the Old Testament, the founder of the Jewish line, was Abraham. By trade, Abraham was a shepherd. A nomad. A wanderer. No home. Just his sheep. But when God blessed him with a son and an abundance of wealth, he became a shepherd turned father of a multitude. 

His son was a shepherd. 

His son was a shepherd.

And his sons were shepherds...and the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. One of these shepherds (Judah) was told that his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson would be the Messiah, the one who would bring peace, kill sin and death, and reconcile us to God. 

If you follow Israel's history a little farther, you see that God used another shepherd (Moses) to free his people from the tyrannical rule of Pharaoh in Egypt. Not only a shepherd, but a shy and fearful shepherd. Moses became a shepherd turned great leader. The people mourned his many shepherds are mourned when they pass away?

Think about one of the most famous shepherds in Israel's history. You're right, King David. David was the youngest in the family. No inheritance, no prospects, just his sheep. He fought Goliath with a sling and stone and killed the giant. Then he became a shepherd turned King. The greatest King Israel had. A man after God's own heart. Oh, and did I mention that the Promised Deliverer was to come from David's line?

Not to mention the group of lowly shepherds on the hills outside Bethlehem. Just an ordinary night for those guys. Watching the sheep, enjoying a campfire, talking together in low voices. Suddenly, an angel appears to them and tells them the greatest news in all of human history. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Promised Deliverer...he has been born. Right there, in Bethlehem, in a stable. The greatest King in all the world had come to earth...and the shepherds were the first to hear about it. Imagine that!

Later on, Jesus called himself the "Good Shepherd." He is the one who takes care of us, his sheep. He loves us better than any human shepherd could ever love and care for his sheep. Jesus willingly took on the title of a shepherd, with all the humility that comes with it because he is a humble King and Savior. 

The moral of the story is that God can make a life of significance out of a life of insignificance. And sometimes we may not see it in our lifetime. Do you think David knew he was going to be the greatest king Israel ever had? Probably not. But we look back at David and we can see the significance of his life. 

God can use you too. Maybe you aren't a shepherd, but maybe you are looked down on by others, whatever the reason may be. Our God is a God of great reversals...and he can use you, no matter how small and insignificant you may feel. 

Here is a song I stumbled across, made by two of my favorite Christian music artists ever, Casting Crowns and Matthew West. The song is called "Nobody." And though I didn't set out to write a post related to this song, It just so happens that I thought of this song as I was writing and decided to stick it in at the end. It shares the amazing truth that God can use the lowliest, the outcasts, just as much as he can use the greats. Sometimes more. 

God has a heart for those who feel left out. If that's you...will you trust God that he can use you to accomplish his purposes? 


  1. This is so beautiful... I'm constantly mind-blown by God's creativity and love. Thanks for writing this post. :)