“The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)
Sheep are added to a flock by being bought or being born. A shepherd can breed sheep or he can buy them and, in farming, one or the other of these is true. In God’s flock both are true. Every Christian has been bought and born into the flock of God.
You Were Bought
Karen and I have been watching a series called This Farming Life – it’s about sheep and cattle farming in Scotland. One of the features of the farming year are the sheep auctions. Farmers will buy rams for breeding or ewes to grow the flock.
Before the auction, the farmers walk round the pens and look at the sheep, deciding which ones they want to buy and how much they want to bid.
The Lord Jesus Christ purchased you and the price He paid was the laying down of His own life. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price,” (1 Cor 6:20). The Lord is now your Shepherd and that is why you will not want. All that you need will be given to you because the Shepherd has made you His own. And having given Himself to purchase you, you can be sure that He will give you all that you need (Romans 8:32).
You Were Born
Sheep are either bought or born into a flock, but both are true of you. “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God,” (1 Peter 1:22-23).
The Spirit of God moved over your dead soul just as He moved over the dark and dead waters in the beginning. He brought you to life. He awakened you to your need for a Savior, and He opened your eyes to the glory of Christ.
Not only did He bring you to new life, He sustains you in this new life. For all your doubts and fears, for all your unanswered questions, for all your many sins and failings, you still love Christ and the Lord is still your shepherd.
Having bought and bred us into His flock, the Good Shepherd lives with us and we are the constant focus of His care and attention.
Rebels By Nature
The relationship of a shepherd to the sheep is first and foremost one of ownership. The Shepherd owns the flock because He bought them, and He birthed them. You see this in the words of Jesus. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees (John 10:11-12).
You may find yourself asking, Do I want to be wholly owned? Something in us rebels against that thought. Satan tempted Eve by saying to her, “You shall be as God,” and something within us persists in believing that life will be ours if we can take the place of God ourselves.
One of the most barefaced expressions of being your own god came from the actress Shirley MacLaine, who said, “I know that I exist, therefore I am. I know that the god-source exists, therefore it is. Since I am part of that force, then I am that I am.” When I read these words, I feel sorry for Shirley. If you are your own god you are completely alone. You have no one to look to but yourself.
Nothing could be more tragic than sheep without a shepherd. Other animals can hunt, but sheep need to be fed. Left to themselves, they will soon go hungry. Sheep need a shepherd.
Wholly Owned by the Good Shepherd
When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Sheep without a shepherd will soon be in a desperate state. They will wander off and become lost. Their wool will grow long and exhaust them. Wolves will come and destroy them.
For sheep to be without a shepherd would be disastrous but for sinners like us, it would be worse. The worst that can happen to sheep without a shepherd is that they die. But the worst that will happen to sinners who choose to be their own god, is not that they die, it is that ahead of them stretches a dark hell in which they are alone forever.
But David is not on his own. He can say “The Lord is my shepherd.” My shepherd owns me. His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. When I die, I will not go into outer darkness. My shepherd will welcome me home and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
It is a marvelous thing to be wholly owned by the Son of God! To know that because you have been bought and born into His flock, you are His in life, in death and forever. To know that because He owns you, He will lead you, restore you, protect you, feed you and love you all your life. To know that even the darkest valley is made safe for you by His presence, and that you have a glorious future in His eternal home.
This article is an excerpt of the sermon “He Owns Me” from the series on Psalm 23 titled The Lord Is My Shepherd.