A Good Welcome for Sheep and Strangers

By November 30, 2009 Psalms


 It is human nature to talk about what we esteem, whether a football team or an athlete, a business man or a book. Our admiration will find an outlet. Psalm 23 captures David’s esteem and delight in the Lord, his covenant God, in a kind of personal confession of faith. This is a psalm of everyday experience, punctuated by some event in David’s life that brought His admiration to its boiling point of expression. It is a psalm for everyone who wanders and wants to find his true home.

Examine, with David, our tendency to wander from God, and second, look carefully at God’s determination to welcome wanderers home to Himself.

David uses two images for our wandering: a sheep and a stranger (or fugitive.)

We wander because our wants and needs drive us. “We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way.” ( Isaiah 53:6) Jill and I, Stuart and Anne were viewing a field of sheep near Hadrian’s Wall, England four years ago. The owner and our guide, John Hausel, a friend of my dad’s, commented at one point on the constant care the sheep require: “Sheep are always looking for a way to die,” he said. The same might be said of us. David saw the connection and wrote a psalm to celebrate the One who kept him from “finding a way to die”.

We also wander because of our fear of death, “through fear of death…subject to slavery all (our) lives.” ( Hebrews 2:15)


“Christmas, the incarnation, is God

sending the ultimate Shepherd after us.”


In all our wandering, we do not find our true home, our place of trusting, settled contentment. David’s Psalm is his celebration upon finding himself  in his true home.

There is a Shepherd for someone as  “sheep-like” as you. There is a Host for someone as homeless as your heart. Jesus, the good Shepherd, gathers his wandering sheep. See Ezekiel 34:11-12. Christmas, the incarnation is God sending the ultimate Shepherd after us. 

Not only does He find wandering sheep, but He welcomes them into His fold, His home, with lavish goodness and grace –greeen pastures and warm hospitality.

John, our sheep owner near Hadrian’s Wall, died last Wednesday. He once spoke fondly of hearing his father whistle the old Scottish Psalter: “The Lord’s my shepherd”. I wonder if John ever sang that song for himself before he walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

How about you?Are you in God’s flock? Has it become personal for you, yet? Have you fled to the house of God? Has it become your home? Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice… and they follow Me, and I give eternal life to them; and they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them from My hand.”  (John 10:27-28.)

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