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BY REV. WILLIAM HOWELS,
(From a MS. in the hand-writing of Mr. Howels.)
Psalm xxiii. 1.
" The Lord is my shepherd ; I shall not want."
Our spiritual wanderings are, in Scripture,
compared to those of sheep, after having de-
serted their shepherd's pasture. Seduced by sin
we go astray further and further from the Lord ;
and if left to ourselves we should continue to
do so for ever. This is the language of every
one who is taught of God. " The Lord is my
shepherd :" " By the grace of God I am what
I am." The dear Redeemer, " the Shepherd
of Israel," finds all his sheep in a helpless state.
By his word, and by his Spirit, he makes him-
self known to them as their shepherd. Being
made sensible of their own weakness, and of his
power and love, they afterwards follow him.
" My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me." (John x. 27.) " When
222 CHRIST THE SHEPHERD.
many of his disciples went back and walked no
more with him," and thus evinced themselves to
be none of his spiritual fold, Jesus said unto
the twelve, " Will ye also go away ?" Then
Simon Peter answered him, " Lord, to whom
shall we go ? thou hast the words of eternal life."
(John vi. 67, 68.) This is the bleating of the
In dwelling on the Saviour's office as the
shepherd of his people, I would observe,
I. That he supplies all their wants ; and,
II. That he protects them from all their
I. He supplies all their wants.
The employment of a shepherd was not, in
ancient times, the menial office which it is at the
present day. The greatest men of antiquity,
Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and
many others, were shepherds. From the most
eminent on earth, we ascend to the highest in
heaven, even to " the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity," (Isaiah lvii. 15,) adoring
his love and condescension in descending from
above to become the Shepherd of Israel. Of
old it was recorded of him, that he led his
" people like a flock by the hands of Moses and
Aaron." (Psalm lxxvii. 20.)
The wants of sheep are numerous.
CHRIST THE SHEPHERD. 223
1. They are prone to wander. The Holy
Spirit, in comparing us to sheep, would teach
us a lesson of deep humiliation. " We are prone
to forsake God" — " My sheep wandered through
all the mountains, and upon every high hill :
yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of
the earth, and none did search or seek after
them." (Ezek. xxxiv. 6.)
2. Sheep having forsaken their own pasture
seldom or never return.
Sinners having once forsaken God never re-
turn of themselves. Without a shepherd they
must necessarily perish. But, " thus saith the
Lord God, Behold, I, even I, will both search my
sheep and seek them out." (Ezek. xxxvi. 11.)
And St. Peter, addressing himself to the flock
of Christ, says—" For ye were as sheep going
astray, but are now returned unto the Shepherd
and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter ii. 25.)
The Lord Jesus Christ having made himself
known to them as their Shepherd, supplies them
The psalmist perused the book of nature with
the eye at once of a poet and of a divine. Christ,
his church, and the blessings of his gospel, are
represented under the image of a shepherd with
his flock lying near him, on the margin of a
peaceful stream, ruminating on a rich repast in a
fertile mead. He inspires his imagery with the
224 CHRIST THE SHEPHERD.
most sympathetic interest, by telling us in grate-
ful transport, that he himself is one of the flock :
" He maketh me to lie down in green pastures ;
he leadeth me beside the still waters." (ver. 2.)
All who are taught to see and to feel their
own wants, and to experience the care and pro-
tection of the Shepherd of Israel, enter into the
feelings of David, and gratefully echo his songs
of thanksgiving and praise.
3. Sheep are subject to many diseases ; so
A shepherd is invariably the physician of his
fold. This observation is peculiarly applicable
to the good Shepherd. He is the only physician
of his flock : " Bless the Lord, O my soul, and
forget not all his benefits ; who forgiveth all
thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases."
4. The young, the weak, and the burthened, a
shepherd treats with the utmost tenderness.
This truth again is eminently applicable to the
spiritual Shepherd: " He shall feed his flock
like a shepherd ; he shall gather the lambs with
his arms and carry them in his bosom, and shall
gently lead those that are with young." (Isaiah
Once more — to sum up the wants and the
rich blessings with which he visits them, in his
own words—" I will feed my flock, and will
CHRIST THE SHEPHERD. 225
cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.
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." (Ezek. xxxiv. 15, 16.)
As he supplies all their wants —
II. He protects them from all enemies.
Sheep are exposed to the fatal attacks of the
bear, the wolf, the lion, and many other for-
midable foes, while no creatures are more in-
capable of protecting themselves. Here we are
presented with a striking emblem of our many
and mighty enemies, as well as of our own in-
capacity to preserve ourselves.
But as a shepherd is the protector and deliverer
of his sheep, so is Jesus.
1. He protects them even from the approach
of some enemies.
To explain this, I would observe that the
absolute justice of God might have been the
eternal enemy of all his enemies. " We all had
our conversation in times past in the lusts of
our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and
of the mind, and were by nature the children of
wrath even as others." (Eph. ii. 3.) We must
therefore have perished even as others, had not
Jesus exposed himself to that vengeance which
was our desert. That we may, under the in-
VOL. I. Q
226 CHRIST THE SHEPHERD.
fluence of the Holy Spirit, learn in some measure
to prize the blessing, let us attend to what the
Lord says in his awful address to the impenitent :
" I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of
her whelps, and will rend the caul of their
heart, and there will I devour them like a lion."
(Hosea xiii. 8.) Thoughtless sinners, may the
Lord give you ears while I am speaking to you :
you must believe in Jesus, overcome God, or
To all those who believe in him, the Saviour
says, "I am the good Shepherd; the good shepherd
giveth his life for the sheep." (John x. 11.)
He became the voluntary prey of vengeance, that
his sheep might be spared. Justice is now not
their enemy but their friend.
Again : Do we enjoy peace and communion
with God, we owe the blessing to the good
Shepherd. The vigilance of his eye, and the
strength of his arm, preserve us from the jaws
of the destroyer. Jacob, speaking of himself as
a faithful shepherd, says — " In the day the
drought consumed me, and the frost by night,
and the sleep departed from mine eyes." (Gen.
xxxi. 40.) " He that keepeth Israel shall neither
slumber nor sleep." (Psalm cxxi. 4.)
The best shepherds among men, notwith-
standing every care, may lose some of their sheep.
Even some of Jacob's flock were " torn by
CHRIST THE SHEPHERD. 227
beasts," and others " stolen." (Gen. xxxi. 39.)
But the Shepherd of Israel can lose none of his.
We hav r e his own word for their security : " They
shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them
out of my hand." (John x. 28.) This leads me
2. That when they are exposed to the most
terrible enemies, Jesus invariably delivers them.
This truth is typified and illustrated in a singu-
larly striking manner by young David. Being-
summoned into the presence of Saul, who tells
him, that in consequence of his youth he was
not able to fight with the Philistine, he answers,
" Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there
came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of
the flock : and I went out after him, and
smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth :
and when he arose against me, I caught him by
his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy
servant slew both the lion and the bear." (1 Sam.
xvii. 34 — 36.) In the deliverance of the lamb,
and in the death of the lion and the bear, we
recognize a type of the deliverance of the church
from the most imminent perils, as well as of the
destruction of her enemies. Moreover, David, in
contending, first with the lion and the bear, and
afterwards with the Philistine, considers himself
as a lamb rescued from extreme danger by the
Shepherd of Israel, and thus richly presents us
228 CHRIST THE SHEPHERD.
at once with a type and with the antitype :
" The Lord that delivered me out of the paw
of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he
will deliver me out of the hand of this Philis-
tine." (ver. 37.)
Wanderers — Who among us are wandering at
the present moment like sheep without a shep-
herd in this dreary wilderness? "Aliens from
the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the
covenant of promise, having no hope, and with-
out God in the world." (Eph. ii. 12.) Momen-
tous question ! barbed, winged, and guided
by the Holy Spirit, may it fly into the inmost
recesses of your bosoms ! Is there any one in
this assembly obliged to make this confession :
" I have been for years, alas ! a wandering sheep ;
my wonder is that 1 have not perished in the
wilderness. Who will convey me to the Shep-
herd ? Mortally wounded by sin and Satan, I
cannot convey myself, and if left I must die."
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