The Heart of the Shepherd

The following passages have within them the qualities of a shepherd after the heart of God.

1.    Genesis 46:34               
    34 That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

    a.    Those who have Egyptian mentality, hate those who have a shepherd’s heart
    b.    At best they do not understand the heart of the shepherd and move in such a manner as to inhibit the free function of a true shepherd..

2.    Genesis 33:13-14
    13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. 14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. 

    a.    Note the understanding of Jacob after he had wrestled with God, changing his nature.
        i.    The children are tender, the margin says fragile.
        ii.    Herds and flocks with young are with me. Recognizing that their condition governs some of his actions. I may want to go faster but cannot because of those with me. I personally may be able to go faster but cannot because of those with me. I must let their condition govern my progress.
        iii.    Recognizing that there is a tendency to drive them at my speed instead of the pace that they are able to go.
        iv.    Recognizing that over-driving can produce death. We are not called to drive the sheep, but to lead them.
        v.    Recognizing that there is a need to lead those in this condition with gentleness.
        vi.    Recognizing that I can only go at the pace of the cattle.
        vii.    I can only go at the endurance level of the children.

3.    Psalm 23:1-6
    1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.   3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. 

    a.    This passage should be exegeted in the light of the functions of shepherds with the above heart.
        i.    A true shepherd does his best to keep his sheep from spiritual want.
        ii.    He finds restful places for them and brings them into those spiritual realities.
        iii.    He finds good feeding places, green pastures, lead his sheep to them and allows them freedom within that context.
        iv.    This gives them rest.
        v.    He leads his sheep beside quiet running streams not quick rushing waters. This enables them to drink without fear.
        vi.    A true shepherd has a ministry of restoration to
            (1)    spirit
            (2)    soul
                (a)    will
                (b)    mind
                (c)    emotions
            (3)    body
        vii.    He leads in paths or ways that produce righteousness in the life of all who follow.
        viii.    A true shepherd is willing to go through the valley of the shadow of death for and with his sheep.
        ix.    A true shepherd helps to allay all fear of evil, because of his willingness to  go through things with his sheep.
        x.    When a true shepherd disciplines, it is a comfort to the sheep.
            (1)    rod     the shepherd’s rod is like a straight stick that the shepherd gently but firmly prods the sheep with when they are going to slow.
            (2)    Staff    the staff is that which has the crook in it. With this staff he gently raps the sheep or lamb on the side of the head to get it going in the right direction.
        xi.    The result of the work in the life by this type of shepherd is as follows.
            (1)    God prepares a table before the sheep in the presence of their enemies. Just as they are about to engage the enemy, God calls a lunch break.
            (2)    It releases the anointing of God in the life of the sheep.
            (3)    There is an abundance released into the lives of the sheep. My cup runneth over.
            (4)    Goodness and mercy flow out of my life all the days of my life or, being shepherded in this way produces a life that extends goodness and mercy to all who follow in the footsteps of those who are under this type of shepherd.
            (5)    One who functions under this type of shepherd is guaranteed a dwelling place in the house of the Lord forever.

4.    Ecclesiastes 12:11
    11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

    a.    True shepherds move in wise words that provoke to good works. This is part of that which David said in thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Wise words from a true shepherd gently direct me in the Way of the Lord.
    b.    These words are given by the Chief Shepherd who is the One Shepherd.
    c.    The under-shepherds are the masters of assemblies.

5.    Isaiah 40:11
    11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. 

    a.    He wants us to be like Him and lead our flocks.
    b.    It is His heart that we gather the lambs in our arms.
    c.    If we are going to be shepherds we must be willing to carry the lambs close to our hearts.
    d.    A true shepherd will lead with gentle manner those that are pregnant with young or new dimensions of the workings of God in their lives.

6.    Jeremiah 3:15
    15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

    a.    God promises to give pastors according to His heart. If this is the case then we need to know the heart of God concerning His Shepherd heart.
    b.    These shepherds, according to His heart, will feed with knowledge and understanding. Would this, in the context, be knowledge and understanding of the heart of God?

7.    Jeremiah 23:3-4
    3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

    a.    The sheep of God in the last days will be a driven people.
    b.    They will have been driven away from their folds or safe places.
        i.    I acknowledge that this will have been because of their disobediences and in some way a punishment for those disobediences, but, He will not leave them in that state of punishment or caught in it.
    c.    He shall restore fruitfulness to them.
    d.    He will restore increase to them.
    e.    He will set up shepherds over them whose focus shall be on feeding them.  What is the focus of ministry today?
    f.    The attitude of the shepherds will dispel fear from the sheep.
    g.    The attitudes of the shepherds will no longer cause the people to become downhearted or dismayed or depressed.
    h.    Because they have these types of shepherds there will be no lack.

8.    Ezekiel 34:11-17,22
    11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.  13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
    17 And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. .....
    .....  22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

    a.    Here there are a number of aspects of the heart of the shepherd or true pastor.
        i.    A true shepherd searches endeavoring to find out where his sheep are. The sheep may seem to be sitting right there in the fold, but, where are they in their spirit?, where are they in their will, mind, and emotions?
        ii.    True shepherds will be restored in the day when the sheep are scattered.
        iii.    There will be storms that have scattered the sheep. (Scattered in the cloudy and dark day)
        iv.    They will have been scattered among the people, where many dwell, but it is not to be the dwelling place of His sheep.
        v.    They will have been scattered to many countries. This can be interpreted to be literal Israel, but as we look at the church we see that God’s people are scattered into many different camps that are alien to one another. These could also be what is meant in the spiritual interpretation of the passage and word, countries.
        vi.    God wants His shepherds to bring us into all the inheritance that God says is ours because of the Cross. This is what is referred to as their own land.
        vii.    There are certain things in the feedings of God that can only be obtained when we are walking in the promises of God
        viii.    There is a specific fold or place to dwell there that is safe.
        ix.    He, as the Chief Shepherd, the pattern for all shepherds, will bring us into a place of rest.
        x.    Then he lays out the specific duties of a shepherd.
            (1)    Feed the flock The only clear ministry to the full corporate.
            (2)    Each of the following is clearly a ministry to individuals.
                (a)    Seek that which was lost. This is not talking of the sinner, but is direct reference to those who are already Israelites either natural or spiritual. First and foremost it is a spiritual condition.
                (b)    Bring again that which was driven away. This again would speak of a group of people who were once within the fold but through the actions of shepherd(?) or hirelings have been driven away from the fold and the rest of the flock.
                (c)    Bind up that which is broken God must teach the shepherds to
                    (i)    discern what is broken
                    (ii)    how to set aright, so that it will heal properly, that which is broken.
                    (iii)    how to bind up that which is broken
                (d)    Strengthen that which was sick. 
                    (i)    Shepherds need to discern the difference between the sick and the broken.
                    (ii)    They need to know, from God, what it means to strengthen.
                (e)    It is important to do a comparison study, in the light of the above, of Isa 61:1-2a and Luke 4:18 Notice how Jesus states some of the things, seemingly different than Isaiah.

Isaiah 61:1-2  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to

1.    preach good tidings unto the meek;

2.    he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

3.    to proclaim liberty to the captives,

4.     the opening of the prison to them that are bound;    

5.    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, Luke 4:18
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to

  • preach the gospel to the poor; Note that there is relationship between the meek and the poor
  • he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, there is a healing in the binding up process.
  • to preach deliverance to the captives, In manner preaching is involved in ministering deliverance.  
  • recovering of sight to the blind, This is not even mentioned in the Isaiah passage.
  • to set at liberty them that are bruised, It would seem this would indicate that we are in held in bondage or imprisoned by our bruises.

9.    Amos 3:12
    12 Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.  

    a.    Although the context is that of judgment, there is a revelation of the heart of the shepherd here that needs to be seen. The shepherd
        i.    Takes out of the mouth of the lion two legs This speaks of somewhat of an ability to walk. It is not full ability, because a lamb or sheep has four legs.
        ii.    A piece of an ear This speaks of a portion of ability to hear. We are not told what portion of the ear, just a portion. Probably it is a small portion but to the shepherd it is enough to rescue that portion even though the lion has most likely consumed the rest of the head of the sheep or lamb. I do not fully understand the full implications of this yet, but I believe God is going to teach some shepherds how to do this in these days. This is called a ministry of restoration.

10.    Zechariah 11:17
    17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

    a.    It sounds like the shepherd is to stay with the flock regardless.
        i.    He is to stay with the sword at the ready.
        ii.    If he does not, then judgment shall be visited upon his right arm, the hand of power and his right eye, usually the dominant eye which would speak of strength of vision.

11.    John 10:2,11,12,14,16
      2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep......
    ..... 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep......
    ..... 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. .....
    ..... 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

    a.    The true shepherd needs to be willing to become the door of the sheep.
    b.    The true shepherd must be willing to put his life and ministry on the line in order to fulfill the above functions of ministry for his sheep.
    c.    The true shepherd knows that although there may be a good size congregation in his church, not all are his sheep. The only ones who are his sheep are the ones of whom the Lord has spoken personally to him that he has responsibility for. I know my sheep. Not al the people in my church are my sheep.
    d.    The sheep have a personal word from the Lord to be under the shepherd they are under. The sheep know whom God has called to be their shepherd.
    e.    The true shepherd at least has an idea or vision of the other places that God has ordained sheep to be gathered under his care.
    f.    Remember:    The fold is a place in the spirit that God has given the shepherd to cause his sheep to enter. Only there will they find safety and rest.

12.    Hebrews 13:20
    20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 

    a.    God has ordained that Shepherd and sheep enter into covenant relationship. This is not to be done by any type of coercion, but because God has spoken to both shepherd and sheep a word of covenant separately.
        i.    Commitment and loyalty can never be demanded, it must be given.
        ii.    Each individual in the covenant relationship must have heard a personal word in their own spirit to commit to each other. This applies to the leader as well as the people.

13.    1 Peter 2:25
    25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    a.    I believe this speaks to the revival that must come first before the great ingathering. A great number of sheep, who have gone astray, will return, before the great ingathering.

14.    1 Peter 5:4
    4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

    a.    If we are faithful to these principles, when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, we will receive a crown of His glory that shall never fade away.

 God is looking for men and women in whom He can put "The Shepherd's Heart". When we measure ourselves by these standard, there can only arise a cry in our hearts, Lord Make Us Like You. He said He would give us Pastors, or shepherds after His heart. Lord if you have called me to be a shepherd on any level, would you give me a heart like yours!