Seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously wrote that human life in its natural state is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Hobbes argued that our instincts tend toward war in a bid to attain dominance over others; thus the establishment of government would be necessary to maintain law and order.
The bleak view of humanity sounds like the state of affairs that Jesus described when He said, “All who have come before me are thieves and robbers” (John 10:8). But Jesus offers hope in the midst of despair. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” but then the good news: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (v. 10).
Psalm 23 paints a refreshing portrait of the life our Shepherd gives us. In Him, we “lack nothing” (v. 1) and are refreshed (v. 3). He leads us down the right paths of His perfect will, so that even when we face dark times, we need not be afraid; for He is present to comfort us (vv. 3–4). He causes us to triumph in the face of adversity and overwhelms us with blessings (v. 5). His goodness and love follow us every day, and we have the privilege of His presence forever (v. 6).
May we answer the Shepherd’s call and experience the full, abundant life He came to give us.
Jesus, You’re the source of true life, abundant and full. Help me seek my fulfillment only in You.
At the time of Jesus, shepherds used two kinds of enclosures for their sheep. In the villages, shepherds often kept their sheep in communal stone-walled and gated sheep pens guarded by gatekeepers. Out in the fields, sheepfolds were often makeshift enclosures made of stones, and the shepherd would guard his sheep by sleeping across a narrow opening in front. In John 10, Jesus uses the picture of a shepherd and his sheep to assure us of His personal protection. He says He’s “the gate for the sheep” (vv. 7, 9) who “lays down his life for the sheep” (vv. 11, 15). A communal sheepfold would have included many flocks. But as the shepherd called among the mixed flocks, only his own sheep would respond to him. Recognizing the shepherd’s voice, his sheep would draw near to him and follow him out of the sheepfold to the pasture (vv. 3–5).