Like Sheep

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Isaiah 53:1-6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way. (v. 6) In his memoir A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson encounters a man whose sense of direction is hopelessly flawed. When they meet, Bryson points out that the man is miles off course from his intended destination. When they part, Bryson notes that the hapless hiker has, once again, set off in the wrong direction. When sheep follow their own direction, …

The Tender Shepherd

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Isaiah 40:1-11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms. (v. 11) One of my earliest memories is of my mother singing a lullaby that goes, “Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me, / Bless Thy little lamb tonight.” We tend to “grow out” of that feeling of being lulled in the arms of someone tender. We also “grow out” of thinking of God as one who has tender feelings for us. Yes, …

In the Presence of My Enemies

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Psalm 23 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. (v. 5) In his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller observes that sheep are such anxious and temperamental creatures that if there is a hint of danger, they cannot rest, sleep, or even eat. The presence of enemies—real or imagined—is enough to prevent life-sustaining practices or provoke life-threatening panic. A skillful shepherd anticipates every potential danger, guiding the flock to safe …

Rod and Staff

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Psalm 23 I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (v. 4) In his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller notes that shepherds in antiquity carried two tools: a rod and a staff. The staff was a long stick used to redirect or pull close a wayward sheep. The rod was a short club used at times as a weapon to fend off predators. It …

Don’t Shepherd Us!

Ben Van Arragon

Read: 1 Kings 22:1-18 There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD . . . but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil. (v. 8) My first movie experience was Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. Its narrator, Jiminy Cricket, is the puppet’s appointed conscience. Pinocchio is perfectly willing to obey his conscience—until Jiminy says something the puppet doesn’t want to hear. God, in his grace, appointed prophets to be the conscience of …

The Shepherd-Leader

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Numbers 27:12-23 . . . that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd. (v. 17 NIV) I was a first-year Hebrew student. My fellow students and I were in over our heads: trying to master a new alphabet and vocabulary as well as the art of reading right to left. After a demoralizing quiz, several students accused our professor of not doing enough to prepare them. He patiently pointed out the instruction …