The final truth the psalmist discovered was this: The Lord is the Shepherd of His people. He writes: “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (psalm 77:20).
Is there any figure of speech so beautifully descriptive of the relationship of God to His people than that of a shepherd with his flock? The closing verse of Psalm 77 reminds us of the opening verse of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Because the Lord is our Shepherd, He leads us and supplies everything we need.
What does the Lord supply to His sheep?First, He supplies a sense of meaning and purpose for our lives. A shepherd always has a goal in mind for the flock. If he leads his sheep to the mountain pastures, it’s because he has something he wants to accomplish there. If he leads them beside the still water, he has a reason for doing so. If he leads the sheep out into the territory of the wolves, it’s because he wants them there. It’s the shepherd who supplies the purpose.
Meaning is an essential ingredient of life. A man once came to me for counseling. He said, “I have everything I want, but I don’t want anything I have.” He was suffering from “destination sickness,” the feeling of having achieved all of his life goals only to find that none of his achievements brought him peace and satisfaction. God, our Good Shepherd, supplies us with meaning, purpose, and a reason for living. He makes life worthwhile.
Second, the Shepherd supplies love, another desperate need in our lives. Our Lord loves His sheep. He gives us everything that love entails: caring, protection, and provision. As the apostle Peter writes, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 peter 5:7). We matter to Him. He cares about our needs. That is the heart of a shepherd.
Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, and He said that what defined Him in that role was His self-sacrificing love for the sheep:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep (john 10:11–15).
Whenever we feel abandoned or neglected by God, we need to remember that He is our Shepherd. We are always in His protective care, even when we are not aware of it. God always shepherds His own. That’s the conclusion the psalmist comes to.
Have you come to that same conclusion? Are you able to trust God, even through times of doubt and pressure, trial and temptation? Have faith in God! He will lead you through the deep waters and bring you safely to the other shore. Once there, you’ll be able to say with the psalmist, “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?” (psalm 77:13).