“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.”
The theme of the shepherd tending his sheep is common to the culture of Israel and frequently found in the Word of God. In the first family, Abel was a “keeper of sheep” (Genesis 4:2). Before guiding God’s people, both Moses and David were shepherds. It was to the shepherds that the angel announced the birth of the Savior. The New Testament pastor is charged to oversee and feed the flock of God.
Most importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd that “giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). In our text, the psalmist speaks to God as the “Shepherd of Israel.” What a comforting image we are given as we are made to see ourselves as members of His flock and Christ as our Shepherd. Several assuring thoughts are given in this short verse of Scripture.
We see initially that the Shepherd hears us: “Give ear, O Shepherd.” The Shepherd is always aware of the sheep and alert to their cries. We can know that God hears us when we cry out to Him. We can pray knowing that our Shepherd cares for His sheep and is available to meet their needs. According to the Bible, He will never slumber nor sleep. Not only does He hear us, He also leads us: “thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.” Our Shepherd leads His sheep. We need His careful and loving guidance in our lives. We can ask Him to lead, with confidence that as a Shepherd, He will direct us. Too often we may try to direct our own lives or ask Him to bless and prosper our plans, but this is not God’s way. The sheep never lead the shepherd. Our Shepherd knows what lies ahead, and He knows what is best for us.
Next, we see that the Shepherd is always present with the flock. The psalmist says, “thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” God promised to be present with His people. He manifested His presence in the tabernacle over the mercy seat, between the two golden cherubims. “Shine forth” is a request that He might manifest Himself in the life and affairs of the psalmist.
We can always be thankful that the Shepherd will never leave His sheep. His presence will always be with us. The hirelings will flee when danger comes to the flock, but the Good Shepherd is committed to the safety and protection of the sheep.