This first few verses of this psalm are written from the sheep's perspective, then the perspective changes in the remaining verses to that of the shepherd.
Sheep are animals that must fully rely on their shepherd for everything. Without a shepherd, sheep would perish. Sheep must be lead to clean water. They cannot discern that some water is polluted and therefore, detrimental to their health. They will drink anything. Sheep must be lead to green pastures where the grass is plentiful. Sheep will stay in the same place and graze right down to the bare dirt if left to their own devices. (Yes, they are DUMB!!) A shepherd must herd the sheep to other locations where the grass is lush and green and free of poisonous weeds or vines. Thus the reason sheep and their shepherd are always on the move.
The matted coat of a sheep makes a breeding ground for parasites which can cause a sheep to become very ill and eventually can even kill them. A watchful shepherd will keep the coat sheared so that it does not become a hindrance to the health of the sheep. If a wound or parasite is found, the shepherd will be quick to provide care and apply soothing oil to help the healing begin.
The heavy coat of a sheep can also cause other problems. The sheer weight of it can cause a sheep to become "cast"....fall on its back. In that position, due to the heaviness of the wool, the sheep cannot right itself. It will require the help of its shepherd to put it back on its feet again. Left on its back, a sheep will die.
Sheep are also easy prey to wild animals. They have no defense mechanism. No claws. No sharp teeth. No venom. Nothing with which to scare away predators or to defend themselves against them. Once more they are completely dependent on the shepherd to watch out for their well being and to defend them should the need arrive.
Finally, sheep are followers. They must be lead. If one sheep begins to head for a cliff, all the others will follow. Even if the sheep foolishly jumps, so will all the others right behind him. A shepherd has a crooked staff just for that purpose...to pull the wayward sheep back from danger and pull him INTO the fold.
Since the shepherd is so essential to the life of the sheep, he must stay with the sheep 24 hours a day. At night, the shepherd will call his sheep who know his particular voice into a "fold" or sheepcote where they will spend the night under the watchful, caring eye of the shepherd. As he leads them into the fold, the shepherd counts each one. He knows them by name and will not rest until the missing sheep is found and returned to the fold.
Yes, with a loving, caring shepherd, the sheep want for nothing.
Hmmmm, I think I hear a song in my head. It was from my granddaughter's CHRISTmas program at her preschool. It went something like this:
I just want to be a sheep..Baaa, Baaa
I just want to be a sheep...Baaa, Baaa
I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Baaa, Baaa
I just want to be a sheep.
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Yes, Lord I want to be like that sheep...wanting NOTHING. But, alas I am not. I DO want. I want lots of things. Not so much material things, though they are really nice to have. The things I want are much more important than that.
There are people I love that I want to know YOU like I know you, in an intimate way. I want them to know and experience how personal YOU are, how real and how much You love them!
There are people who are lost who need to know YOU. I want that for them.
There are lives and marriages being torn apart by the enemy that I want to see restored.
There are two precious little grand angels who I want one day to give their hearts to you...totally, completely surrendered and sold out to you.
I want every member of my family to be sold out to You so that we can, as a family, raise YOUR banner high.
I want my life to count for something.
So Lord, My Shepherd, like the needy sheep who can do nothing apart from you, I bring all my wants and needs to you. Lead me. May I, like the sheep, hear your voice and follow obediently.