Hymn #405 in Celebrating Grace Hymnal — “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”
[pullquote_center width=”80%”]We are Thine; do Thou befriend us, be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear, o hear us when we pray.[/pullquote_center]
The Sheep. This was my friend’s not-really-so-complimentary term for the other teachers in our peer group at an Atlanta school. By this, she didn’t so much mean to imply that the others were dumb, or a bunch of animals, but that they were pretty much up for anything, and easily led. On her fell the responsibility for planning any social event or gathering for the group. The others were up for adventure — they just didn’t want the hassle of planning it themselves. Sort of like sheep, they got along just fine… as long as they were herded, watched over, and ‘taken care of.’
We are often referred to as sheep, God’s flock. In both the Old and New Testaments, God (Jesus) is referred to as our Shepherd. In this 19th-century hymn, we are portrayed as sheep, needing the guidance and care of a Shepherd. In this second verse, we ask Jesus to befriend, guard, keep, seek, and hear us. There is also the plea that Jesus would ‘defend’ us from sin. The image I meditate on here is something other than being protected from bad things happening to us; it seems to me that the plea is for Jesus to defend us from our own sin. I hear in this plea a prayer for the strength to resist the urge of sin, the impulse to separate ourselves from our Shepherd.
Jesus, our Shepherd, we acknowledge our dependence upon you, as our friend, guardian, and keeper. Like a Shepherd, seek us when we wander, and reconcile us to Yourself.