by Jack Eberle
You probably know the rest of the line, “sheep have gone astray...” It is found in Isaiah 53:6. Further, “We have turned everyone to his own way...” Actually, I’m writing this because I believe God showed me this to write about. This due to events occurring very recently here on our own little spread. To abbreviate, it turned out that we have a good neighbor with a lot of irons in the fire, but very entrepreneurial. Somehow, seven of his sheep escaped his fence and ended up in our field. Wanting to be helpful, I went into our field and managed to lead them back to their own fence. I tried to induce them, with the help of the neighbor’s small dog to stay home. However, very shortly, I looked out our window and saw the determined sheep to be in relatively the same environs. I cannot vouch for the sheep, but I suppose they returned home when they wished. Like the sheep, it occurred to me that Isaiah 53 is certainly appropriate.
We are inclined to go our own way when we would be so much better off physically, and of course spiritually. Of course, the latter will incline the remainder of our lives’ direction and destination.
Like the sheep, we tend to go our own ways. Wouldn’t it be better for each of us to try to walk in His steps and follow His voice? “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delights in His way” (Psalm 37:23). How great it is to say, “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want” (Psa. 23:1). Many of us as children were taught the 23rd Psalm. Do the years of our lives just passed nullify the power and effectiveness of His Word?
It is not unusual to think of sheep in a scriptural context. Early in the Bible we find that Abel was a keeper of sheep. More famously, David, the slayer of the giant, Goliath, felt pressed from his sheep tending to take leave to slay Goliath because he was threatening His people’s existence. Obviously, sheep were well known by Israel. Sheep were not only used in sacrifices, they were used for raiment and as commodities in trade. It was common to think of shepherds to be successful and/or prosperous in relation to their shepherding success and practices.
When the sheep were roaming in our yard and field, it reminded us of the old hymn. “I Was a Wandering Sheep” by Horatius Bonar who died in 1889. Verse 3 follows:
“Jesus my Shepherd is,
‘Twas He that loved my soul,
‘Twas He that washed me in His blood,
‘Twas He that made me whole;
‘Twas He that sought the lost,
‘That found the wandering sheep;
‘Twas He that brought me to the flock,
‘Tis He that still doth keep.”