God is our Good Shepherd. He truly cares for us.

Application #1: God, the self-described Good Shepherd in Ezekiel 34, tells us how He wants the weak to be treated.

“I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” If you read Ezekiel 34, you will discover how angry God was with the leaders of His people. He was impatient with the selfish, self-absorbed, mow-over-anybody-in-my-way-of-getting-all-the-good-stuff kind of people. God was anything but impatient with His people who were weak and needy and unable to take care of themselves. He tended to them patiently and with great gentleness!

Application #2: When God knows we are weak, He purposely leads us into green pastures and beside quiet waters.

In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller says, “The strange thing about sheep is that because of their very make-up it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are [1] free of all fear. Because of the social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are [2] free from friction with others of their kind. [3] If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only when free of these pests can they relax. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. [4] They must be free from hunger.”

Philip W. Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), Pg. 35.

Green pastures are essential to nourishment and apparently, the product of a shepherd who has put some time into preparing the land to be a green pasture. My point is that my Shepherd provided for me a place of rest that was free from my enemies, where I felt at peace, where I wasn’t bothered by the little pesky things of life that tormented me and where I could eat my fill of His goodness.

What is the significance of quiet waters? Because sheep are timid creatures, they will not drink from a stream that is flowing too briskly. A sheep needs a quiet, peaceful stream that is flowing still waters before they will drink.

The greater significance is that our Good Shepherd understands that sheep are often weak and prone to getting into trouble. Our loving, patient God purposefully chose to identify Himself as a Shepherd and to identify us as weak sheep! Every time He describes Himself as a Shepherd, He is demonstrating compassion for the weak, He is trying to help straying sheep find their way back into the fold, He is going after the wandering sheep to bring it back to Him, tenderly binding up the clumsy, wounded sheep who are always getting stuck in the thickets or getting “cast down,” or He is carrying the wounded up on His shoulders until they are strong enough to walk on their own.

Application #3: God loves us, His little lambs, individually and personally.

As a Good Shepherd, He said in a parable that He would leave the 99 to go find even one lost lamb. He pursues us out of love, out of responsibility and out of compassion, not willing to lose any of us. Trust that your Good Shepherd will pursue you and find you because He loves you, and He will rejoice when He does. (Luke 15:4-7)

Application #4: God is the restorer of our souls. He sets us who are cast down back on our feet, thus restoring our equilibrium.

The psalmist shepherd, David, understood what it meant to restore the soul of a cast down sheep. (Psalm 23)

“A ‘cast’ sheep is a very pathetic site. Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success. Sometimes it will bleat a little for help, but generally it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration. If the [shepherd] does not arrive on the scene within a reasonably short time, the sheep will die…

“During my own years of a keeper of sheep, perhaps some of the most poignant memories are wrapped around the commingled anxiety of keeping a count of my flock and repeatedly saving and restoring cast sheep…

“Leaving everything else, I would immediately go out into the rough wild pastures and count the flock to make sure everyone was well and fit and able to be on its feet… Again and again, I would spend hours searching for a single sheep that was missing. Then more often than not, I would see it at a distance, down on its back, lying helpless. At once I would start to run towards it—hurrying as fast as I could—for every minute was critical…

“As soon as I reached the cast ewe my very first impulse was to pick it up. Tenderly I would roll the sheep on its side… If she had been down for long, I would have to lift her onto her feet. Then straddling the sheep with my legs, I would hold her erect, rubbing her limbs to restore the circulation to her legs. This often took quite a little time.

“When the sheep started to walk again, she often just stumbled, staggered and collapsed into a heap once more. All the time I worked on the cast sheep, I would talk to it gently, ‘When are you going to learn to stand on your own feet?—I’m so glad I found you in time—you rascal!’”

Philip W. Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), Pg. 59-63.

Verses To Meditate On

Ezekiel 34:11–16 (NLT): “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I Myself will search and find My sheep. I will be like a Shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find My sheep… I will bring them back home… I will feed them... I will give them good pastureland… There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed… I Myself will tend My sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace,’ says the Sovereign Lord. ‘I will search for My lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak.’”
Psalm 23:1–3 (NIV): “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
1 Peter 5: 6-7 (NASB): “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Luke 12:6–7 (NASB): “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
Also see: Luke 15:3-7.

The greater significance is that our Good Shepherd understands that sheep are often weak and prone to getting into trouble. Our loving, patient God purposefully chose to identify Himself as a Shepherd and to identify us as weak sheep!