He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom…
1. The prophet first declares the general office of the Saviour. "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd."
2. Here His people are described under the endearing name of a "flock." It is thus descriptive of the happy privileges which they enjoy. They are not left to roam at large like the beasts of prey; but they are brought by Divine grace into a settled state. They are as a flock of sheep under the shepherd's eye. They are distributed, it is true, in various parts; but yet under the Lord's particular care.
3. "His flock." This is to make known more especially their privileges — they are emphatically His. They are "His" as given to Him by His eternal Father. They are "His" by His own immediate purchase; for He has redeemed them. They are "His" also, as by the action of the Holy Ghost upon their hearts they are led into His fold.
4. The word translated "feed" properly signifies the whole care and government that a shepherd exercises towards his flock. Christ takes a general oversight of them; but He has them particularly in His eye. So, too, a shepherd distinguishes the different states of his flock, and suits himself to their particular wants.
5. By the "lambs," those are meant who are young in years, and young converts. They are described by this emblem to set forth their weakness and tenderness and inability properly to take care of themselves. He "gathers them with His arm, and carries them in His bosom." Here you notice a most pleasing union of power and love employed in their service. It is thus that the Lord Christ exercises the tenderness of a shepherd towards His flock. Remember how many sweet promises are addressed to the weak and to the young in the flock (Isaiah 35:3, 4; Isaiah 42:3). We particularly notice this, to encourage those who may be setting out in the Lord's way. Sometimes a thought comes into the mind, "Ah! if I were but like such a Christian! if I had as much zeal and devotedness to my Master's service as he has, if I had his joy and peace in believing, — then I should be able to go on my way rejoicing in the Lord. This is a mistaken view. The love of the Shepherd to His flock does not originate in their love to Him. He did not expect to find them angels; He knew that they were sinners. He treats them as a shepherd does his tender lambs. "He shall gently lead those that are with young"; or, "those that give suck." You see this beautifully illustrated in the history of Jacob, after his meeting with his brother Esau. Esau said to him, "Let us take our journey, and I will go before thee;" but Jacob, like a good shepherd, knowing the roughness of his brother, said to him, "My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day" — only one day — "all the flock Will die." How many resting-places does the Good Shepherd provide! Conclusion —
(1) Such is the description given by the prophet of our blessed Saviour. Surely it is plainly that on which our faith may rest in seasons of trial, and which may as surely attract our love in seasons of outward peace and prosperity. Look at His dealings with His disciples in the hour of their sorrow: how many comforts does He afford!
(2) What is there that can so attract you as this "Shepherd of the sheep"? Everything that regards the fulfilment of His office may draw forth our attachment.
(J. H. Stewart, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.