Thursday, August 24, 2006

Beside The Shepherds' Tents

Song of Solomon 1:7-8 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

I love how exact the Word of God is! Jesus is whom the true believer loveth. Ongoing, present tense - we love Him with our soul, not just mentally or on the surface. The true believer will keep loving their Saviour. If someone rejects the Saviour, saying, "I once knew Him, I once loved Him, I once believed in Him," they prove that they never knew Him in truth. The soul that has come to Jesus for salvation knows whom they have believed in - and still believe in!

1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (See also John 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; Romans 1:16 and other passages.)

2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Where does the Chief Shepherd feed? Where does He fellowship with His undershepherds and with the sheep of His flock?

Beside the shepherds' tents, in the house of God, in the midst of His flock when they are gathered together.

Notice the Shulamite's desire is to be where the Shepherd (King Solomon) is. Shulamite is the feminine form of Solomon, both meaning "peaceful." This is similar in usage to the terms Christ and Christian. She is the bride espoused to King Solomon, picturing the believer espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ. Believer, is your desire to be where the Chief Shepherd is? Do you desire to be where His flock feeds, where He feeds among them? Do you long to be where His flock rests, where He leads and guides His sheep? Are you in a sound, Bible believing church that teaches and preaches the Word of God?

Webster's 1828 Dictionary gives this definition of Shepherd: "1. A man employed in tending, feeding and guarding sheep in the pasture... 3. The pastor of a parish, church or congregation; a minister of the gospel who superintends a church or parish, and gives instruction in spiritual things. God and Christ are in Scripture denominated Shepherds, as they lead, protect and govern their people, and provide for their welfare."

He also defines Pastor as: "1. A shepherd; one that has the care of flocks and herds. 2. A minister of the gospel who has the charge of a church and congregation, whose duty is to watch over the people of his charge, and instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion."

The words Pastor and pasture both come from the same Latin root, meaning "to feed." A Pastor's ministry is also referred to as his pastorate, and is pastoral - ie. it is his job to spiritually feed his flock, and to care for their souls. For the record, the terms pastor, bishop, and elder are used interchangeably in the New Testament, and all refer to the same office in the church, and are merely different aspects of it. Pastor refers to leading and feeding the sheep (the flock of God, the believers under his care); bishop means "overseer" and refers to the pastor's job of watching over his flock; and elder refers to his wisdom in the Lord. From the following passages, we can see how these are all aspects of the same church office:

Acts 20:17-18, 28 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, ...Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Hebrews 13:7, 17 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation... Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Jeremiah 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

Remember how when Jesus restored Peter after he had denied Christ, He exhorted him three times to feed His sheep and lambs (see John 21:15-17)? The lambs are the young believers and the sheep are the more mature in the flock - they both need to be fed. The younger believers need to be discipled and built up in the fundamentals of the faith and have their doctrinal foundation strengthened.

I love how Matthew Henry explains part of this passage: "The opinion she has of him as the good shepherd of the sheep; she doubts not but he feeds his flock and makes them rest at noon. Jesus Christ graciously provides both repast and repose for his sheep; they are not starved, but well fed, not scattered upon the mountains, but fed together, fed in green pastures and in the hot time of the day led by the still waters and made to lie down under a cool refreshing shade. Is it with God’s people a noon-time of outward troubles, inward conflicts? Christ has rest for them; he carries them in his arms, Isa. 40:11."

Isaiah 40:11 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.

I find this verse so comforting! Not only will the Lord gently lead and care for believers, He will gently lead those with young! Good news for parents who are concerned with the spiritual upbringing and development of their children.

Is your Shepherd/Pastor following THE Chief Shepherd, or is he turning aside by the flocks of his companions, leading his worldly flock into supposedly "greener pastures" away from the pure, still waters and green pastures of God's Word. It seems too many churches today would rather settle for the "purpose driven life" (created by man-pleasers) than be gently led by the Good Shepherd.

It is the hirelings and the strangers that don't lead the sheep according to the direction of God's Word, according to the guidance of the Good Shepherd:

John 10:1-5 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

John 10:11-14, 27-28 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Do you know the Good Shepherd, do you know His voice? Is your pastor leading you according to the Word of God, or according to his own philosophies and wild opinions? Is your pastor a true shepherd, a man of God, a man after God's own heart?

Though the context of the following verse is God's future promise to repentant Israel, as a principle, I believe this is the type of pastor He desires for all His people:

Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

The Lord leadeth His sheep...

Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Isaiah 48:17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

...the devil and his false "ministers of righteousness" are the ones attempting to drive them! (See 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

Jeremiah 23:1-2 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

Luke 8:29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)

The devil is a roaring lion, and those who follow his leading - rather than the Lord's - in shepherding their flocks, are like the roaring lion too!

Jeremiah 50:17 Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.

The shepherd is to be leading the flock. Leading implies going before and showing the way to the sheep following along after; however it is the butcher that drives the sheep - drives them to the slaughter!

Now read another verse from the same chapter of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

Instead of leading and exhorting the people to draw nearer to the Lord, they were causing them to go further astray, turning them from the truth! Due to their false teachings, they had actually caused the people to forget their restingplace - caused them to forget the rest they had in their Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read the Lord's strong condemnation of those people-pleasing shepherds/pastors, that preach what itching ears want to hear:

Jeremiah 23:16-18, 21-22, 28-32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? ...I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. ...The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

Now contrast that with true shepherds, true men of God, who preach and teach the Word of God, all the counsel of God for His flock (see Acts 20:27-32):

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day... I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick... (See the rest of the chapter for further judgment against false shepherds.)

...go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

Isaiah 40:11 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.

Are you following the Shepherd? Is He leading you? Are you feeding yourself and your little lambs beside the shepherds' tents?

Feed my lambs...

August 24th/06
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

1 comment:

Bro Tim said...

Bro Jerry I thank God for the Chief Sheperd in my life and that is Jesus. I thank God for the still small voice. I also praise God for my Pastor. I thank my Lord that I am in a Bible believing church that the truth is preached from the pulpit. I thank God that I have an undersheperd who cares about my needs. But I again I thank God I have a Chief Sheperd that loves me and wants me to cast all my care upon him.
Thank You for this post it ministered to my heart.
Bro Tim

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