Our Caring Shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
suggested further reading: Psalm 23
God has determined to protect and guard his church. On this account the prophet compares the Lord to a shepherd who expresses his infinite love toward us. Our Lord does not refuse to stoop so low as to perform toward us the office of a shepherd.
In other passages, such as Isaiah 34:2, the prophet describes the Lord as one armed with terrible power for the defense of his people. But here he ascribes a more amiable character to the Lord, so that believers may sweetly repose under his protection.
By the word flock, Isaiah describes the elect people whom God has undertaken to govern. We are thus reminded that God will be a shepherd to none but those who, in modesty and gentleness, will be like sheep and lambs. We ought to observe the character of this flock, for God does not choose to feed savage beasts, but lambs. We must therefore lay aside our fierceness and permit ourselves to be tamed if we wish to be gathered into the fold of which God promises that he will be guardian.
The words he shall … carry them in his bosom describe God’s wonderful condescension, for he not only is moved by a general feeling of regard for his whole flock, but, in proportion to the weakness of any one sheep, he also shows his care in watching, his gentleness in handling, and his patience in leading his sheep.
Isaiah leaves out nothing that belongs to the office of a good shepherd; for the shepherd ought to observe every sheep so he can treat it according to its capacity, even supporting those who are exceedingly weak. In a word, God will be mild, kind, gentle, and compassionate so that he will not drive the weak harder than what they are able to bear.
for meditation: Without such a kindly Shepherd, who would feed us, carry us, and lead us? What a great comfort it is to know that we have a strong yet gentle Shepherd who is willing and able to care for his lambs, even the very weakest.