Some scholars believe that the practice of young shepherds (often girls) tending sheep under the watchful eyes of adults is the basis for the biblical picture of God – the Chief Shepherd – appointing undershepherds to care for his flock. The undershepherds are accountable to God for how they lead his flock.
- God often spoke of King David as having a heart like his own. What early experiences in David’s life may have nurtured such a heart? (See I Samuel 16:10-13).
- In what way was Moses exhibiting the heart of the Chief Shepherd when he helped the young shepherds who cared for their father’s flock in Midian? (See Exodus 2:16-17).
- Ezekiel 34:1-10 is a powerful portrayal of God’s heart as the Chief Shepherd of Israel. What does God want his undershepherds to do for his flock? For what did God condemn his undershepherds and why?
- What did God promise to do to the shepherds who had failed in their God-given responsibilities to care for the sheep he had entrusted to them? What did God promise to do for his sheep that had suffered under their care? (Continue reading in Ezekiel 34:11-16; see also Jeremiah 23:1-4).What must those of us who are undershepherds (pastors, lay leaders, parents, teachers, older brothers and sisters, disciplers, sports coaches) learn from these passages about the importance of doing our work faithfully?
- What was it about Peter that led Jesus to give him the responsibility to care for his sheep? (See John 21:15-17). What does this tell you about the expectations God has for those who are undershepherds, responsible to care for the flock?
- What imagery did Paul use when speaking to the Ephesian elders about their responsibilities for the church, and what did he tell them to do (See Acts 20:28-31)?
- What guidelines did God, through Peter’s writing, give to the undershepherds who cared for his people? What did God promise would happen when Jesus – the “Chief Shepherd” – appears? (See I Peter 5:2-4).
Suggested memory verse: John 10:14-15
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (ESV)