Sunday, May 6, 2012

Shepherds of Our Families

We had our monthly men's fellowship this past Friday and once again I brought the message.  I guess I'm starting to get used to this teaching thing.  
Sandra and I share the responsibility of teaching the College/Career class at our church.  Right now we doing a study on David loosely based on Beth Moore's book A Heart Like His.  The message I brought to the men at our fellowship was actually based on a study we did on David's shephereds heart making him a good king.  I didn't really think about it, until Sandra mentioned it to me, but it also applies to us as men and fathers as well.  

Shepherds of Our Families
A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way.
    Author: Leonard Ravenhill

 Psalm 78:70-72

New International Version (NIV)

70 He chose David his servant
   and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
   to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
   of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
   with skillful hands he led them.
So even though he didn’t know it David had been in training to be King his whole life.  The position of shepherd was training David to be the shepherd of his people that God would call him to be. His shepherds heart is what would make him a great king.
Let’s take a look at what the Hebrew word for heart is.
Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings
Heart ~ lev
By Jeff A. Benner

Here is an example of our modern western culture still using a concrete object to express an abstract idea. We often associate the heart with emotions such as love and kindness as in "He has a good heart". This is also true with the Hebrews who saw the heart as the seat of emotion. But unlike us they also saw the heart as the seat of thought whereas we see the brain as the seat of thought. To the ancient Hebrews the heart was the mind including all thoughts including emotions. When we are told to love God with all our heart (Deut 6:5) it is not speaking of an emotional love but to keep our emotions and all our thoughts working for him. The first picture in this Hebrew word is a shepherd staff and represents authority as the shepherd has authority over his flock. The second letter is the picture of the floor plan of the nomadic tent and represents the idea of being inside as the family resides within the tent. When combined they mean "the authority within".

Characteristics of a shepherd that are good for a Man.
A good shepherd always knew the habits and characteristics of his sheep and could predict their behavior and understand their peculiarities. The shepherd knew the characteristics of his sheep so well that he was never surprised or caught off guard by their actions.

John 10:14

New International Version (NIV)
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—

A good shepherd was always at ease with his sheep, comfortable with their company, and enjoyed the responsibility of taking care of them. But, the life of the shepherd was extremely hard; never off duty and never any time off from his shepherd responsibilities.

A good shepherd would sometimes have to discipline his sheep. Because fields of grass were sometimes hard to find, the sheep were prone to wander looking for grazing opportunities.

Therefore, the shepherd had to keep constant watch over his flock. One rebellious sheep could lead the other sheep astray. So the shepherd would break the legs of the wayward sheep to prevent it from straying away from the flock and leading other sheep astray.

Hebrews 12:11

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
11 We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.

After this disciplining process, the shepherd would then carry the sheep on his own back to teach the sheep that, even though the sheep needed discipline from the shepherd, the shepherd still loved the sheep deeply. Being carried on the back of the shepherd, the sheep developed a more intimate relationship with the shepherd.

The shepherd’s task was not only constant but also dangerous because he had to guard his flock against wild animals and against thieves and robbers. Constant vigilance, fearless, courage, and patient love were necessary characteristics of the shepherd.

Lastly, the shepherd was responsible for taking care of the physical diseases that his sheep might contract.

Ezekiel 34:16

New International Version (NIV)
16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

A good shepherd’s responsibility, then, was to provide for all the needs of his sheep. Food, water, direction, protection, and healing were all his responsibility.
How are these good qualities for a Man to have?
A Man who is the shepherd of his family knows his family.  He understands how they act and think.  He knows them so well that he is not caught off guard by their actions.
A Man who is the shepherd of his family loves his family and enjoys leading them. He will discipline them when needed, and protect them at all times.  Constant vigilance, fearless, courage, and patient love are necessary characteristics of a Man who is the shepherd of his family.

Isaiah 40:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 He tends his flock(family) like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young

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