Why being called “sheep” is a compliment.
You can listen to today’s podcast by clicking on this SoundCloud link.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
Psalm 100:3 New International Version
We often hear how insulting it is to be referred to as sheep in scripture. They’re stupid and needy, we’re told. It made me curious why people keep sheep at all. I did some research. This is what I found:
Sheep are excellent ranch animals as they keep together in tight flocks making it easier to protect them from predators and less difficult to round up. Sheep can survive over long periods of drought and semi-starvation. They can thrive on roughage alone and are well adapted to areas unable to produce grain profitably. They pick up grains lost at harvest converting waste feed into profit. They are resilient in extreme weather and less prone to diseases. They have keen senses that alert them to danger. They don’t need expensive buildings to house them. They tread gently on the terrain, and, when pastured wisely, control vegetation and fertilize new growth. They lend sustenance through milk and meat and offer warmth with their wool.
This sounds like a noble description of the people of God. So why are we insulted?
Sheep rely on the care of shepherds to survive. In short, we are insulted by the fact that we are not self-sufficient individuals. But needing a Shepherd is not a weakness; it’s how He made us.
Do we think God is annoyed by our need for Him? He is not. What’s more, he delights in His role as our shepherd. That’s a humble delight as the job of shepherd is one that has traditionally been left to the lowly, the young, and elderly. Shepherds were despised for being dirty, immoral outsiders, yet He’s not insulted to be called our Shepherd. Even more, He was pleased to become the Lamb of God! How, then, do we dare to take offense at being called His sheep?
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Let’s take pride in that. The Shepherd takes pride in us.
Copyright photo and text by Jennifer Brukiewa