God is called the Shepherd of Israel. What a wonderful title. It is not a foreign one in the psalms as arguably the most popular psalm, 23, we find that same title for God. The shepherd is the one who leads the sheep. The Gospel of John tells us that the shepherd knows his sheep by name. But not only is God given the title of shepherd, but also in Scripture, and in real life, shepherd is also a title given to the religious leaders of any given group. When you are in Italy the name for pastor is “pastore”, which means literally: shepherd. When we served in Italy I was a colleague to many German Shepherds (see what I did there). But it is true, we also find that same reference in Scripture when we find God’s Word refer to the shepherds of the day and it was in reference to the religious leaders.
Unfortunately, Scripture is not often kind to them. Look at Ezekiel 34 and Jeremiah 23 and the prophets speaks out strongly against the “shepherds” that have failed the Lord by seeking after their own desires. We see that same problem happen in I Samuel when Eli and his sons were priests, his sons were only seeking out their own interests. We know full well that Jesus is the only good shepherd. We also see him saddened because the people on the sermon on the Mount seemed as sheep without a shepherd. That is a sad place to be. But God chooses the shepherds to lead His sheep. While Jesus is the only good shepherd, it does not remove the fact that God has chosen shepherds, pastors and religious leaders, to lead His sheep. He can only use what is at His disposal, and that is us.
There are so many references to sheep in Scripture: the lost sheep, the good shepherd, a sheep at the slaughter, and a myriad of people of faith in the Bible who were shepherds: Moses, David and others.