Isaiah 40:11
He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads the nursing ewes.
Sermons
A Sabbath-School SermonIsaiah 40:11
Christ and ChildrenJ. Stalker, D. D.Isaiah 40:11
Christ the ShepherdC. Evanson, M. A.Isaiah 40:11
Christ the Shepherd of His PeopleJ. Hill.Isaiah 40:11
Four Attributes of Divine LoveU. R. Thomas, B. A.Isaiah 40:11
God, in Christ, ShepherdingR. Tuck Isaiah 40:11
Greatness in League with GentlenessIsaiah 40:11
I Like Your JesusIsaiah 40:11
Jesus and the LambsIsaiah 40:11
Jesus Christ the Shepherd of His PeopleD. Wilcox.Isaiah 40:11
Jesus the ShepherdIsaiah 40:11
The Care of the Good Shepherd for His FlockJ. H. Stewart, M. A.Isaiah 40:11
The Good ShepherdJ. L. Adamson.Isaiah 40:11
The Good Shepherd's Consideration for the Weak and Tender of His FlockD. Wilcox.Isaiah 40:11
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus ChristW. Clarkson Isaiah 40:11
The Lambs and Their ShepherdIsaiah 40:11
The Redeemer as a ShepherdJ. Johnston.Isaiah 40:11
The Saints' Final Perseverance Secured by the Gentleness of Christ to the BurdenedJ. H. Evans, M. A.Isaiah 40:11
The Saints' Final Perseverance Secured by the Tenderness of Christ to the WeakJ. H. Evans, M. A.Isaiah 40:11
The Shepherd and His FlockG. Innes.Isaiah 40:11
The Shepherd and the FoldAlexander MaclarenIsaiah 40:11
The Prophet's CommissionE. Johnson Isaiah 40:1-11
Characteristics of the Great SaviourJ. Duche, M. A.Isaiah 40:10-12
Consolation from the Thought of God's OmnipotenceC. S. Robinson, D. D.Isaiah 40:10-12
Power and TendernessJ. R. Macduff, D. D.Isaiah 40:10-12
The Grandeur and Pathos of TheologyD. Davies.Isaiah 40:10-12
The Magnitude and Tenderness of Divine DealingsD. Davies.Isaiah 40:10-12
Of no one can these words be used with such exquisite appropriateness as of that "great Shepherd," that "good Shepherd" of the sheep, whom we call Lord and Master. They express -

I. HIS PRACTICAL KINDNESS. "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd." He will be to them, in all kindly service, what the shepherd is to his sheep.

1. He provides with all-nourishing truth.

2. He leads in the paths of righteousness.

3. He defends from spiritual perils.

II. HIS TENDERNESS. "He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom." He is tender in his treatment of:

1. The young. They may well sing, "Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me," etc. He who so graciously received the little children, who took them up in his arms and blessed them (Mark 10.) will regard with truest tenderness the children of his people now.

2. The sick and suffering. As tenderly as the pitiful mother waits upon her sick child, will he sympathize with those of his disciples who are afflicted in body.

3. The sorrowful. He is the "High Priest touched with a feeling of our infirmities," holding and healing with delicate hand the wounded and suffering spirit.

III. HIS CONSIDERATENESS. "And shall gently lead those that are with young." He will suit his step to the pace of those who have to fall behind. No hard iron measure has he in his hand; he requires of us only according to the strength we have. The shorter and slenderer service of the unprivileged, of the burdened, of the feeble, of the "little ones" of his flock is quite as acceptable to the considerate and patient Saviour as the longer and larger service of the privileged and the strong. - C.







He shall feed His flock like a shepherd.
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.)

I. A DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH AND PEOPLE OF GOD, under the notion of a flock.

1. With respect to God they are called a flock because they are separated from the rest of mankind, and given to the Lord Christ. A flock is a company of sheep which is the property of some owner.

2. With respect to the Lord Jesus, the Church is called a flock because He brings them into His fold, calls them out of a natural state into a state of grace, and fellowship with Himself.

3. With respect to other men, among whom believers converse, they are called a "flock" upon a threefold account.

(1)As they are helpless.

(2)As they are harmless. A sheep will take injuries, but it is not prone to return them.

(3)They are useful. Believers are a blessing by their prayers and by their example.

II. THE RELATION CHRIST STANDS IN TO THEM as a Shepherd. Two things are implied in this relation — care and tenderness.

III. WHAT CHRIST DOES FOR HIS CHURCH AND PEOPLE as their Shepherd.

IV. THE WAY IN WHICH THIS IS DONE. Suitably to everyone's circumstances and condition.

1. Christ's carriage towards His flock is according to their ages.

2. It is according to their strength or weakness. Such as cannot walk shall be carried; and they that are heavy laden shall be gently led. Comfort yourselves with this; none of the flock shall be left behind.

3. It is according to the difficulties or dangers His sheep are in.Uses —

1. This doctrine affords a just word of reproof to those who are shepherds under Christ, but act not according to His example towards the flock. Knowledge of the state of the flock is one great, though much-neglected branch of a pastor's office.

2. How should souls long to be under the care of this Good Shepherd! You are exposed to wolves and devils, to all errors and sin, whilst you keep off from Christ; there is no safety for you, but only in His arms; no provision, but in His covenant.

3. How safe are all the saints!

4. What a blessed plea is here for the Church in dangerous times! Christ will spare His flock, and the land for their sake.

5. With what boldness may the people of Christ attend upon all holy ordinances. They are designed for your support, till you get above them.

(J. Hill.)

I. THE SHEPHERD. He, the Lord God, whose hand is strong, and whose arm shall rule for Him, "who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, who hath meted out heaven with a span, who hath comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, who hath weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance" — He for whom there is nothing too hard to be accomplished, and nothing too minute to be observed, offereth to be the Shepherd of your soul, to feed it and to watch over it. Will not His love, His power, His wisdom, be sufficient for all its need?

II. THE FLOCK. As the Shepherd is powerful and wise, and full of love, so are the flock weak and foolish, and ready to go astray. The sheep is a weak, defenceless creature, having neither strength to resist the wolf, nor speed to escape from him. It is not like the ant, provident, and able to care for its own sustenance. If once astray, it is rarely known to return of its own accord.

III. THE SHEPHERD'S CARE OF HIS FLOCK. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd. The word translated feed refers to all a shepherd's care for his flock, including all necessary and beneficial attention to them (Ezekiel 34:15, 16).

IV. THE TENDERNESS OF HIS CARE.

(G. Innes.)

I. THE REDEEMER UNDER THE ENDEARING CHARACTER OF A SHEPHERD.

1. It is the office of a good shepherd to know his flock. "I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine." He has a tender feeling, a compassionate concern for the meanest and most sickly of His flock.

2. The Good Shepherd defends His flock from every threatening danger. David exposed his own life to defend his flock. Those holy and humble shepherds to whom our blessed Saviour's birth was first notified, kept watch over their flocks by night. Will the Redeemer fall short in His office? No! "Behold, He who keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."

3. The Good Shepherd. gathers His flock, whether they have wandered from the fold, or have been driven away by an enemy, or scattered by storms (Ezekiel 34:12). The Shepherd of Israel will magnify His office in this respect. Christ shall gather the Jews, the people of His ancient Church, into His sacred fold.

4. The Good Shepherd heals His flock, whether languishing under deep disease or smarting wounds. It was charged upon the shepherds of Israel as a high crime that they had not healed the sick, nor bound up that which was broken, nor brought again that which was driven away, nor sought that which was lost. But this could not be objected against our compassionate Redeemer.

5. The Good Shepherd provides green pastures and pure water for His flock.

II. WHAT KIND OF A SHEPHERD IS CHRIST?

I. He is a great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:10).

2. He is the chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). Other shepherds are mere men, of like passions with ourselves.

3. He is the good Shepherd (John 10:14).

4. He is a Shepherd who has no equal This is obvious in numberless instances. Other shepherds lay down their commission at death. But the Shepherd of Israel by dying conquered death; and carries on His work by His Holy Spirit, with all that power and success which attended His personal ministry on earth.

III. THE FLOCK WHICH CHRIST DOTH TEND.

1. It is a little flock (Luke 12:32). Though small and despised in the eyes of a vain world; though poor in spirit, humble and meek in their deportment among men, they are greatly beloved by their God. They are not only little in their own eyes, and in the eyes of a vain world, but little in point of number, compared to a thoughtless multitude.

2. They are in some degree acquainted with their own hearts.

3. They are a peculiar flock, as they are all purchased with blood.

4. They are a chosen flock.

5. They know their Redeemer's voice, and are charmed with it.

6. They follow the blessed Shepherd (John 10:27).

(J. Johnston.)

I. HOW THIS TITLE OF SHEPHERD AGREES TO JESUS CHRIST. Our blessed Lord is spoken of in Scripture under several characters — as a Physician, a Ruler, the Captain of our Salvation, etc., and in this and many other places, as a Shepherd: a metaphor full of comfort. A shepherd is called to the office and trust; and this may eminently be said of Christ. God the Father appointed Him to this office, and fitted Him for it (Ezekiel 34:23). And upon this account God calls Him "My Shepherd" (Zechariah 13:7). A good shepherd gives an account of his sheep; and so will Christ (Hebrews 2:13).

II. SOME OF THE CHARACTERS THAT BELONG TO HIM AS A SHEPHERD.

1. He is the Shepherd of souls (1 Peter 2:25).

2. He is that great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20). Great in respect of the dignity of His person, and great in His accomplishments for His office.

3. He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). He is the very best Shepherd —

(1)As being most wise and discerning. He is acquainted with the state of His whole flock, as their different circumstances require.

(2)As being most faithful and constant.

(3)In respect of His love for His flock (John 10:11).

III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN HIS FEEDING HIS FLOCK.

1. As being the Shepherd of His people's souls, the food wherewith He feeds is spiritual. Even our common supplies for the body are from Him.

2. Of this spiritual food He makes use of great variety.

(1)He feeds His flock with His word and ordinances.

(2)By the influences of His Spirit.

(3)With Himself, with His own flesh and blood, as received by faith.

(4)By the various dispensations of His providence towards them.

(5)When necessary, by afflictions.

(6)After Christ has fed His flock for a time here, He will eternally feed them with higher entertainments in heaven.

3. The food wherewith Christ feeds His flock is precious, even the privileges and promises of the Gospel. How costly, how precious, are such things as these!

4. Christ feeds His people with pleasant food.

5. The provision Christ affords His flock is plentiful (Song of Solomon 5:1).

6. The food with which Christ feeds His flock nourishes the soul to eternal life (John 6:50).

IV. IN WHAT RESPECT MAY CHRIST BE SAID TO FEED HIS FLOCK LIKE A SHEPHERD?

1. As He feeds them with judgment and discretion, with due regard to their age and growth.

2. Aa He doth this with the greatest care and compassion, as those weak creatures He hath paid the greatest price for, and stands in the nearest relation to.

3. As He feeds them effectually, so as to make them to thrive.

4. As He will go on to feed them, till they are nourished up to a fitness for the glory He designs to bring them to.

(D. Wilcox.)

The language is partly metaphorical, because spiritual and intellectual ideas are taken from natural objects. But there is another sense in which the language is not exclusively metaphorical; because there is such a steadiness and determination in the character, that we know at once what it means — it almost ceases to be metaphor. The metaphor is one most commonly used to denote a king or ruler, a prophet or instructor, a priest or sacrifice. The origin of this is obvious, especially in reference to the first of these titles. In the country in which the scene is laid, all wealth consisted in possessions of flocks and herds. Ancient history tells us of a race of shepherd kings, whose tyranny over the people was so great that they were more like wolves than shepherds. And it is conjectured that on this account chiefly it is said of the Egyptians that "every shepherd was an abomination to them." The first idea, then, which the title of shepherd gives us is, that of the kingly character, and we find that every king was the high priest of that people also. Melchizedek was both "king of Salem and priest of the Most High God." And he who was recognised thus as a shepherd, was also regarded as the principal teacher in spiritual matters. Thus we see how the title of Shepherd comprehends all the other characters of our Lord — King, Instructor, and Priest. It would naturally follow that when an individual was thus recognised as "shepherd," the people over whom he was placed would be denominated his "flock" or his "sheep." The word "shepherd" includes in it all that pertains to the office of a shepherd.

I. SKILL.

II. TENDERNESS AND AFFECTION.

III. WATCHFULNESS.

IV. POWER.

(C. Evanson, M. A.)

I. OLD TESTAMENT ILLUSTRATIONS of the manner in which the Lord Jesus Christ discharges the office of feeding His flock like a shepherd.

1. Out of five great types we begin with Abel, the shepherd slain. Abel was a type of the Saviour, in that, being a shepherd, he sanctified his work to the glory of God, and offered sacrifice of blood upon the altar of the Lord, and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering. Farther down the page of sacred history we find another shepherd. He is a more instructive type of the Saviour, perhaps, than the first, but in Abel we discover a truth which is absent in all others. Abel is the only one of the typical shepherds who dies at the foot of the altar, he is the only sacrificing shepherd; and herein you see Jesus Christ in the very earliest ages set forth to mankind as the slaughtered Victim.

2. Now we turn to Jacob, the toiling shepherd. Here is a type of the Good Shepherd, not as dying, but as keeping sheep with a view to get unto Himself a flock. Jacob's labour was of the most arduous character. It is sweet to dwell upon the spiritual parallel of Laban having required all the sheep at Jacob's hand. If they were torn of beasts he must make it good; if any of them died, he must stand as surety for the whole. And did not the Saviour stand just so while He was here below? Was not His toil for His Church just the toil of one who felt that He was under suretyship obligations to bring every one of them safe to the hand of Him who had committed them to His charge? When Jacob had received a reward for all his toil out of the flock which he himself tended, he then conducted both his family and his flock away from Laban. Jacob coming back from Laban to the Promised Land is a true picture of Jesus Christ coming up from the world, followed by His Church, to enter into that better Canaan which has been given to us by a covenant of salt for ever.

3. Joseph is a type of Jesus reigning in the Egypt of this world for the good of His own people, while they are here below. Jesus Christ is King over Egypt's realm. Observe the likeness between Joseph and Jesus in this respect. Joseph was of very singular advantage to the Egyptians. They must have starved in the years of famine, if his prescient eye had not foreseen the famine, and stored up the plenty of the seven previous years. And Jesus Christ is of great service even to this wicked world. It is by Him that it is preserved.

4. Moses, when he kept sheep, kept them in the wilderness, far away from all other flocks; and when he became a shepherd over God's people Israel, his business was not to preserve them in Egypt, but to conduct them out of it. Here, then, is a representation of Jesus Christ as the Shepherd of a separated people. Jesus, like Moses, might have been a king. As Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, so Jesus Christ said, "Get thee behind Me, Satan," to all the pomp and glory of this present world, and preferred to take part with His despised people, who were crushed down by the reigning powers in the Egypt of His days. Now, Moses began his mission by going to Pharaoh, and saying, "Thus saith the Lord, Let My people go, that they may serve Me." Jesus Christ begins as the Shepherd of the separate ones by demanding that they should be let go from the bondage of their natural estate. Our main point is the great exodus of Moses. Every heir of heaven is brought right out of Egypt, led through the Red Sea of Jesus Christ's blood, baptized into Jesus, and brought out into the separated position in the wilderness. It is easy to see how Moses was a shepherd to the people while in the wilderness.

5. David. This shepherd represents Jesus Christ, not at all as the others, but as King in the midst of His Church. David, like Jesus Christ, begins his life with trials.

II. NEW TESTAMENT DESCRIPTIONS.

III. IMPRESSIVE APPLICATIONS.

1. One of comfort and satisfaction to you who are poor, needy, weary, troubled lambs or sheep of the flock. "He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." The lambs have not the value of mature sheep, yet they are the most thought of under the great Shepherd. They might fetch the least price in the market, but they have the greatest portion of His heart. The weaklings and the sickly of the flock are the special objects of the Saviour's care.

2. A second application containing comfort and warning too. Sinner! our Lord Jesus Christ now represents Himself as being a Shepherd who is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Such is Jesus now, looking after stray sheep. Where are you?

3. So we shall conclude with these words, which may be for both saint and sinner. Let it never be forgotten that Jesus Christ is pre-eminently to be preached as the suffering One. (Zechariah 13:7). You shall know about the toiling Shepherd by-and-by; the Shepherd reigning in Egypt, the Joseph you shall know soon; the Shepherd of the separated flock, you shall follow ere long; the Shepherd reigning in Jerusalem, the David you shall rejoice to serve; but now you have to do with the Shepherd bleeding and dying.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The blessed Jesus is represented under this amiable character. The metaphor suggests —

I. THE GRACIOUSNESS AND BENIGNITY OF HIS NATURE. It was goodness, alike unmerited and unsolicited, that originally moved Him to interpose in our behalf. On what penitent did He ever look with coldness and aversion?

II. The idea of PROVISION. As the shepherd leads about his flock from one spot of pasturage to another, so does the Redeemer of His people conduct them to places where nourishment and sustenance may be obtained.

III. The ideas of WATCHFULNESS AND PROTECTION. They are exposed to a variety of perils; but He is vigilant to observe, and omnipotent to defend.

IV. KIND ATTENTION TO THE FEEBLE, AND TENDER SOLICITUDE FOR THE YOUNG. "He shalt gather the lambs with His arm," etc.

V. An idea of THE FINAL BLESSEDNESS RESERVED FOR THE FLOCK. From the tender care exercised over them here, we may infer somewhat of the dignity to which they shall be advanced hereafter. There are many of the ordinary phenomena of nature that fail to engage our wonder, merely because they are not uncommon. What, for example, if it did not come under our daily observation, could more surprise and astonish us than the progressive development of our own faculties? Who could believe that, under the feeble exterior of infancy, there slumbered intellectual energies, which, when a series of years had gone by, would expand to constitute the profound scholar, the enlightened statesman, and the accomplished orator? But multiplied experience has taught us what education and circumstances can do, and we cease to wonder that from the infant mind such fruits are capable of being reared. But surely, when we thus behold the admirable progress of which our nature is susceptible within the narrow compass of threescore years and ten — when we remember that the vast intellect of Newton was ledged in an infant's body — it may serve to remove our doubts as to the higher perfection of which our nature is capable in a future state of being. The goodness of the Great Shepherd in conducting His people to their final state, is most beautifully represented in the concluding verses of the 7th chapter of Revelation — a passage at once so tender and sublime, that it is said our great Scottish poet, from his very boyhood, could never read it without tears.

(J. L. Adamson.)

He shall gather the lambs with His arm
I. CHRIST'S FLOCK IS MADE UP OF BELIEVERS OF SEVERAL GROWTHS; OF LAMBS AS WELL AS MORE GROWN SHEEP.

I. As to the ages and years of Christians, we read of Paul the aged, and of Mnason, an old disciple (Acts 21:16); and of others the kindness of whose youth God particularly remembers. Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:3); Obadiah (1 Kings 18:12); Samuel (1 Samuel 2:18); Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15).

2. In respect of stature, strength, and growth in grace, Christ's flock is made up of lambs as well as sheep. Grace is not perfected as soon as implanted, nor does it thrive in all alike. In some, the good seed brought forth an hundredfold, in others sixty, in others but thirty (Matthew 13.). God has ordered it thus for wise purposes; that the weak may be assisted by the strong, and the strong have opportunity of showing their compassion and tenderness to the weak; that the strong may by this means be kept humble, as seeing in the case of others what they themselves once were; and that the weak may not be discouraged, but reach after the attainments of the strong.

II. THE INSTANCES HERE MENTIONED OF CHRIST'S COMPASSIONATE REGARD TO THE WEAK.

1. The lambs, when wandering. He will gather with His arm. "Gathering" supposes our proneness to wander.(1) This proceeds from the remains of corruption in us, and in His whole flock, which are not yet perfectly renewed.(2) The suddenness and surprise of a temptation may some. times occasion their going astray.(3) As making way for both these, Christians too often let down their watch; upon which they are betrayed by corruption, and Satan gets an advantage over them. Christ will gather such with His arm. Which implies —(a) That He looks after them, even when they are going astray from Him, and He is concerned for them still.(b) That He will not let them wander too far, not beyond the reach of His arm, with which they are both encircled and restrained.(c) That He will employ His power, when the case necessarily requires it, in order to their recovery.(d) That He will gather them with gentleness and care.(e) That He will gather them with His arm, with it stretched out kindly to receive them, and to give them a gracious welcome to Him again.

2. He will carry them in His bosom. This implies great weakness in some that belong to Christ's flock, and great compassion and grace on the part of Him, their Shepherd. "The lambs," or young converts of Christ's flock, may be in many respects weak: weak as to knowledge, faith, and love. Such weaklings as these Christ "has in His flock;" and yet He does not cast them off, but "carries them m His bosom," which notes —(1) That He observes with compassion the very weakest in His flock, and has His heart, as well as His arms open, to cherish them.(2) That He will take them into a place of safety.(3) In a word, Christ's carrying the weak of His flock "in His bosom," notes His acceptance of them as sincere, notwithstanding the weaknesses they lament over. These shall not keep them from His heart.

3. Our Lord and Shepherd Jesus Christ "will gently lead those that are with young." These words may set forth the condition and state of such sheep and followers of Him as are sorely burdened. And there are many things to burden Christ's sheep, as their difficult services, the load of their unmortified sins, and the bitter fruits of them, in their various sufferings of body and mind. As pressed with these, some of Christ's flock may be said to be as feeble as sheep that are with young, or give suck: but such "He will gently lead." Which implies —(1) That He will go before them in the way they are to take.(2) He will lead them gently on, and not hurry and try them by any means beyond their strength.(3) He will bear with all their weakness and imperfections, groans and complaints, and never take occasion from thence to be severe with them, or forsake and leave them.

III. CHRIST WILL MAKE GOOD HIS CHARACTER OF A SHEPHERD TO HIS SHEEP THAT ARE WEAK, EITHER THROUGH THEIR SMALL ATTAINMENTS IN GRACE, OR THE GREATNESS OF THEIR BURDENS.

1. This is here expressly asserted, "He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."

2. To this His compassionate nature inclines Him (Hebrews 4:15). Such a nature cannot but be peculiarly concerned for the weaklings of His flock, whose groans are continually going to heaven.

3. This He has in His commission. (Isaiah 61:1.)

4. This has all along been His dealing with His flock; and He is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." Application — Will Christ gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom? What an inducement is this to come into His flock! Be humbled, that you should be such weaklings as you are, so apt to wander, and so unable to return; but yet remember the excellent properties of Christ as the Shepherd of His flock.

(D. Wilcox.)

Isaiah tells us here of —

I. THE STRENGTH OF THE DIVINE LOVE. "He shall gather with His arm." The power to overtake and elevate such an one as Saul of Tarsus is no power less than "the arm of the Lord revealed." "He shall carry in His bosom." Even greater power is involved in this than in first gathering in the arm. The power of endurance. Such power was that of the Divine love in Christ towards Peter.

II. THE GENTLENESS OF THE DIVINE LOVE. So with the Divine love that said to Mary, "Why weepest thou?" or to Thomas, "Reach hither thy hand."

III. THE PROTECTIVENESS OF THE DIVINE LOVE. That may be the chief thought in these words. He promises more than the intervention of His arm between soul and dangers: He promises the intervention of His entire Being.

IV. THE ADAPTATIONS OF THE DIVINE LOVE.

(U. R. Thomas, B. A.)

I. We have to examine A PORTRAIT OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD.

1. Men carry in their bosoms their gems, their jewels, and so doth Christ carry the lambs of the flock, regarding them as His peculiar treasure. He puts an estimate upon them according to His own relationship to them. He knows, too, what the child cost Him, for to redeem a little child from going down into the pit He must needs bear the penalty due to justice, and suffer even unto death. Re recollects, moreover, what that child will come to if He do not save it by carrying it in His bosom. A soul is a precious thing to Christ, for He believes in its immortality. And He knows, too, what may come of that little child if He sayeth it, for the possibilities of blessing within one little saved child who shall estimate but the Lord who knoweth all things? Jesus knows that a boy may be the spiritual father of hundreds ere he dies. There may be in the congregation a Chrysostom or an Augustine. Right among us may sit a little Whitefield, or a young Luther.

II. We have AN EXAMPLE FOR THE CHURCH. There are two great things which a Church ought always to have, namely, an arm to gather with and a bosom to carry in.

III. A practical word or two upon THE MODEL TEACHER. He who gathers the lambs with His arm and carries them in His bosom is the model of a Sunday-school teacher. In what points?

1. There should be about the teacher attractiveness, in order that he may gather.

2. After you have attracted, uplift. He carries the lambs in His bosom, and therefore He must lift them up. Everything about a teacher should tend to raise the children.

3. When He lifted up the lamb, He laid it on His heart. If you are to bless the little ones, they must lie on your heart. You must make them feel the life of your religion.

4. Next, bear them forward. The lamb is put into the shepherd's bosom, not that he may stand still with it all the day long, but because the sheep are going this way and the lambs must go that way too, and therefore he carries it. You must be always going forward yourself if the child is to go forward with you.

5. Guard the children. Christ placed the lambs in His bosom to protect them.

6. The next word is, cheer.

7. Delight in them. That tenth verse has a great charm for me. "The Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him." Well, what did He have before Him but the sheep that He went forth to find, and the lambs which He gathered and carried in His bosom? They were His work, but they were also His reward.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. DESCRIBE THE LAMBS.

1. They are truly sheep. They are not sheep in maturity, but they are sheep to a certainty. The sheep of God are harmless. They can bear, but they cannot revenge. The sheep goes further than the non-inflicting of evil, it bears evil without complaint. The extraordinary patience of the sheep is seen in God's people, when they joyously endure a weight of affliction, and pass through the valley of death with composure. Sheep, again, are cleanly creatures; cleanly in their feeding — carrion never tempts them; cleanly in their habits. Furthermore, the sheep is guileless. You see the lion creeping through the thicket full of cunning; but sheep have none. Again, sheep are tractable. When a man tames a lion so that he may sport with it, he gets the name of lion-tamer; nobody is renowned for taming a sheep, for it has a tractable disposition, and so all the elect of God have an obedient and yielding spirit. Do not forget that the lambs are truly Christ's sheep. They are as dearly bought with His blood; they are as surely objects of His care; they are as manifestly illustrations of His power; they shall as certainly be proofs of His faithfulness as the strongest of the flock.

2. Why are they lambs, and in what are they distinguished?(1) Some of them are lambs for age, though not all; for there are some young Christians who are full grown, and there are others very aged, who remain to be lambs still.(2) The distinguishing mark lies rather in spiritual deficiencies — they are but children in knowledge. They are immature also in experience.(3) So are they lambs in tenderness of feeling. They are too susceptible, and therefore feel the unkindness of the world acutely.(4) They are timid and trembling, and dare not courageously proclaim themselves at all times on the Lord's side.(5) Perhaps, too, they are subject to melancholy, to doubts and fears, and distresses of mind.

II. Let us come to EXPRESS OUR FEARS CONCERNING THESE LAMBS OF THE FLOCK. We are afraid for them, because of the howling wolves there are about. We are equally alarmed because of their association with the goats. Then we are jealous over the lambs because of the old lion. We are even more concerned when we think of the bear. A flattering world hugs tightly. When we put all these dangers together, we add to them the fact that lambs are subject to the same diseases which are incident to all sheep. They, too, get the foot-rot of weariness in the ways of God. They begin to be slothful in the cause of God. They suffer from coldness of heart, have a tendency to wander, and catch the stiff neck of pride.

III. Let us REJOICE IN THE GOOD SHEPHERD. "He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom."

1. Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand," etc. But let us read on (vers. 12-18).

2. Why doth He carry lambs in His bosom? Because He hath a tender heart, and any weakness at once melts Him. But more, it is His office to consider the weak. For this it is that He was made a faithful high priest — that He might have compassion on the ignorant. He was a lamb Himself once. He purchased them with blood. Moreover, He is responsible for that lamb. They are all a part of His glory.

3. What does He say He will do? "Carry them." Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trouble. At other times, by having some tender, loving person to take care of them. He carries them instrumentally. At other times, such lambs are carried by having an unusual degree of love given them, and consequently a large amount of joy, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know.

4. How does He carry them? He carries them in His bosom — not on His back — that is bow He carries stray sheep.(1) Here is put forth boundless affection. Could He put them in His bosom if He did not love them much? Where does the Father place the Son? He is in the bosom of the Father. Where did Abraham carry Lazarus? In his bosom. Where did Naomi bear her young grandson Obed? He was in her bosom. Where did the man in the parable put his little ewe lamb? In his bosom.(2) Then there is tender nearness. How near to a man is that which is in his bosom.(3) Then it is a hallowed familiarity. Lambs when put into the bosom, having no intellect, cannot therefore learn anything; but the lambs of Christ's flock, whenever they ride in Christ's bosom, talk with Him; they tell Him all their secrets, and He tells them His.(4) Then there is perfect safety. The dear ones in His bosom — what can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. How can they get the lamb out of the Shepherd's arm? Must they not cut off the Shepherd's arm before they can hurt the lamb?

IV. LET US HEAR THE SHEPHERD'S VOICE. If you be the lambs, hear the Shepherd's voice, which says, "Follow Me." You that are not lambs, hear His words, "Come unto Me." Those of us who are His sheep, let us hear the Shepherd's voice, saying, "Feed My lambs."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In the chapter before us our Saviour is described as Jehovah God. Greatness in league with gentleness, and power linked with affection, now pass before us. Heroes who have been most distinguished for fury in the fight, have been tender of heart as little children; sharp were their swords to the foe, but gentle their hands towards the weak. It is the index of a noble nature that it can be majestic as a lion in the midst of the fray, and roar like a young lion on the scene of conflict, and yet it has a dove's eye and a maiden's heart.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHO ARE THE LAMBS WHICH OUR BLESSED LORD IS SAID TO GATHER AND TO CARRY IN HIS BOSOM?

1. In a certain sense we may affirm that all His people are lambs. In so far as they exhibit the Christian spirit, they are lamb-like.

2. Still, this is not the precise meaning of the text. The word "lamb" frequently signifies the young; and our Lord Jesus Christ graciously receives many young persons into His bosom. The ancient teachers of the Jewish law invited no children to gather around them. I suppose there was not a Rabbi in all Jerusalem who would have desired a child to listen to him, and if it had been said of any one of the Sanhedrin, "that man teaches so as to be understood by a child," he would have thought himself insulted. But not so our Master; He always had children among His auditory. Some in our day mistrust youthful piety, but our Saviour lends no countenance to such suspicions. Some cautiously whisper, "Let the pious youth be tried awhile before we believe in his religion; let him be tempted; let him bear the frosts of the world; perhaps the blossoms will drop away and disappoint us." Such was not my Master's way.

3. But, again, by lambs we may quite as properly understand young converts.

4. We shall not strain the text if we say that the lambs in the flock are those who are naturally of a weak, timid, trembling disposition.

5. The lambs are those who know but little of the things of God.

II. HOW DOES JESUS SHOW THIS SPECIAL CARE FOR THE WEAK ONES? He does this, according to the text, in two ways —

1. By gathering them. The shepherd's kitchen fire is, for the time, the lambs' own nursery. When the flock is on the march, it will happen, unless the shepherd is very watchful, that the lambs will lag behind. So it is in the progress of the great Christian Church; persecuted often, always more or less molested by the outside world, there are some who flag, they cannot keep up the pace; the spiritual warfare is too severe for them. At other times the lambs do worse than this. They are of a skittish nature, and, feeling the natural vigour of new-born life, they are not content to keep within bounds, as the older sheep do, but they betake themselves to wandering, so that at the close of the day the lambs cost the shepherd much trouble. So are there many immature Christians whose minds are hung loosely, and are unstable as water.

2. After He gathers them, He carries them in His bosom. That is —(1) The safest place, for the wolf cannot get them there.(2) The tenderest place, where we should put only a poor creature that had a broken bone, and could not bear to be roughly touched.(3) The easiest place.(4) The most honourable place. We would not put into our bosom that which we despised.

3. Our Lord shows His care for His lambs in His teachings, which are very simple, mostly in parables, full of winning illustrations, but always plain. He is pleased to reveal His teachings gradually. His experimental teachings are all by degrees, too.

4. In the solemn curses with which He guarded the little ones (Matthew 18:6, 10).

5. How many of the promises are made on purpose for the weak.

6. The Lord Jesus Christ's tenderness to His people is further shown in this, that what He requires of them is easy.

7. He shows His gentleness, moreover, in that He accepts the least service that these little ones may offer.

III. WHEREFORE THIS CARE OF CHRIST TOWARDS THE LAMBS OF THE FLOCK? Because they need it, and He loves them, and therefore shall they receive according to their necessities. But why is He so particularly anxious to succour them? Surely, if He lost a lamb or two, it would be no loss among so many, and if one of the feeble minds should perish, it would be no great consequence when a multitude that no man can number shall be saved. The answer is plain.

1. The weak are as much redeemed by the blood of Christ as the strong.

2. In the new-born child of God there are peculiar beauties which are not so apparent in others.

3. Jesus has such care for the weak ones, because they will become strong one day.

4. Our Lord Jesus Christ's suretyship engagements require that He should preserve the weakest as well as the strongest.

5. Besides His suretyship engagements, there are His promises.

6. Compassion argues that if any should be watched it should be these.

IV. A PRACTICAL CONCLUSION.

1. Let us gather the lambs, for Christ..

2. Learn to carry in our bosoms those who are gathered.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

A little Moslem child accounted for her preference for the Christian religion by saying, "I like your Jesus, because He loves little girls! Our Mohammed did not love little girls." With unerring instinct she had seized upon at least one of the greatest differences between the two religions.

Ruskin has observed that there are no children in Greek art, but that they abound in Christian art — an unmistakable token that it was the eye of Christ which first fully appreciated the attractiveness of childhood.

(J. Stalker, D. D.)

And carry them in His bosom
I. BY THE "LAMBS" WE ARE CLEARLY TO UNDERSTAND WEAK BELIEVERS. It has nothing to do with their age, either natural or spiritual. Sometimes they are called "babes." Sometimes we are told of "the day of small things"; sometimes of "smoking flax." They are weak believers. We see it in their degree of spiritual knowledge. They little know themselves. They little know the hard warfare they have to maintain. They are surprised because they find the strong workings of nature and of the flesh within them. These are they who live much upon their enjoyments when they have them, and are exceedingly east down when they have them not. They are, for the most part, persons Who are more affected by providences than by God's promises. They have indistinct views of Christ, of His great atonement. They live upon their happy frames. They draw but very feeble distinction between a life of faith and a life of sense. They love to discourage themselves. They think much more of their bitters than of that Branch that can make the bitter waters sweet. And too oft they think more of their own sacrifices than they think of the great Sacrifice. They are weak in knowledge; weak in experience; weak in courage. They fail too oft in the day of adversity. And yet they form a part of the true flock of Christ. There are but few folds in which lambs do not appear a large proportion to the whole.

II. THE GENTLE CONDUCT THAT THEY MEET WITH. "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom."

1. Think who this is (ver. 12). Observe how He is set before us in the tenth verse: Jehovah, Elohim, "will come with strong hand: He shall feed His flock like a shepherd," etc. What! the great Eternal — "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity" — is this the Being that "gathers the lambs with His arm and carries them in His bosom"?

2. The posture contains in it much for our prayerful meditation; carrying these lambs, these feeble ones, these ignorant ones, these weak ones, "in His bosom"! What doth it imply?(1) His boundless affection for them. He has given costly proof of that affection.(2) See how He takes notice of their least graces. I love that instance in 1 Kings 14., in the case of Abijah: it unfolds the tenderness of Him that carries His lambs in His bosom: "And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good tiring toward the Lord God of Israel." There is His cherishing His "lamb."(3) It implies their tender nearness to Him. The lamb seems to be so near its shepherd, as if nothing could be nearer. And what stands so near to the Lord Jesus Christ as His own people? "In all their affliction He is afflicted."(4) It would seem almost to imply more than this; for as the Lord Jesus is spoken of as lying in the bosom of His Father, as if there He learned anew as man all the heart of the Father, so who can say what there is in that posture of the weak lambs lying in the bosom of the Shepherd? He tells us the secrets of His heart. In this opening of the heart to the Lord Jesus in trouble, and His opening His heart to us in giving us answers of peace, doth consist some of the highest blessed-nesses to be known on this side heaven.(5) But the posture does evidently bring with it deep conviction of safety. If the lamb is in the bosom of the Shepherd, he that destroyeth the lamb must destroy the Shepherd. There is all encouragement in this verse, to one that feels himself the weakest of all God's children. But there is not in this truth that which encourages a weak believer to remain in his weakness. For what purpose does the good Shepherd cherish? It is to sanctify.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

And shall gently lead those that are with young
I. With regard to THE PERSONS, they are clearly those who are weary and heavy-laden. They are feeble as well as burdened. Various are the burdens that might be placed before you.

1. I need not say how heavy is the burden of sin, when the Spirit of God first unfolds it to us.

2. And even when there is so much perception of Christ as to leave the spirit without any acknowledged hope but in Christ, and yet with so much of self-righteousness still cleaving as to think there must be something of a preparation necessary in order to recommend the soul to God and His Christ — what a burden! The toil of ploughing the rock — of counting the sands — of measuring the mighty waters — of working in the fire, the fire burning our work as soon and as long as we do!

3. But it applies, too, to the established believer, who frequently in his pilgrimage acknowledges himself and feels himself a burdened man.

4. The constant conflict — "putting off the old man," "putting on the new man"; self-crucifixion, mortification of self, self-denial.

5. There is the burden of a burdened conscience; when a man sees so much in his sin as not to see enough in Christ to raise him above it.

6. The heavy weight of afflictions, accompanied as they often are with great and sore temptations.

7. Their very bodies are a burden to them.

8. The constant service of the Lord has a burden in it. "The burden and heat of the day."

9. There is a burden that we are but little prone to look into as we ought to do, and that is — the burdens of others. For we are to bear their burdens.

II. THE LORD'S CONDUCT TOWARD THEM. Infinite power is required to control the movements of these burdened ones; so many thousands as He has. But the great truth that it unfolds is His infinite tenderness. He does not drive — He leads. He does not merely lead, but "gently leads." Who can unfold thee wondrous tenderness, patience, forbearance, compassion, and love with which He has led each one of us! How doth He wait on His burdened ones! How doth He wait for them! How doth He encourage them! Sometimes He encourages His burdened ones directly. By His Word. How oftentimes do they find their hearts cheered, led onward by a word of promise! He waiteth on them. He waiteth for them. And He suffereth no one to harm them.

III. WHITHER DOES HE LEAD THEM?

1. The first object that our Lord has in His leading of His burdened ones, is to lead them out of their own pasture. His great object is to lead them out of the creature and out of themselves. "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

2. Whither, then, does He lead them? Into deeper discoveries of Divine truth. How little know we of a truth till we have had experience of that truth!

3. Then cometh more close communion with God.

4. And now, it may be, He leads them into deeper afflictions than they have ever known. Oh! what a blessedness to have such a Shepherd for such poor burdened souls! Remember, His great end in leading is holiness.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

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