A Ruler Who Shepherds

December 5, 2022

Matthew 2:6b NIV

“…for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Today's Reading: Matthew 2:3-6

Devo Author: Michael Summers

Date: December 5, 2022

In my early 20’s, I had an opportunity to go to Ireland. It was a fantastic experience full of interesting accents, wonderful people, quaint towns, beautiful, rolling green hills, and… sheep. A lot of them. In fact, one of our afternoons we visited a sheep farm and had an opportunity to watch a shepherd direct the herding dogs and guide the sheep over and around the hills and valleys of the quintessential Irish landscape. They were careful to keep the sheep together and redirect any that started to veer away from the group.

As part of the experience we also got to see sheep being sheared. Even though the shearers carefully handled the sheep, it was obvious the sheep were not happy about it. They would struggle trying to escape, bleating loudly, until finally many would simply give up and submit to the necessary event. The shepherd later informed us that shearing is actually crucial to a sheep’s health and without it they can overheat, become a target for parasites, or even have their eyesight impaired by the excess wool.

In Matthew 2:3 when King Herod hears about the wise men coming to worship the new King, it says, “he was troubled.” I wonder why Herod was troubled? Was it because in his mind there was a “new ruler in town”? Was it because he had become used to being in charge and the thought of losing his power was too much to bear? Reading through the gospels we can assume it was most likely a lot of these reasons and more. Later in verse 6 – referring to Jesus – it says, “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

You see, Jesus was coming as not only a ruler… but also a ruler who would shepherd. Herod was probably familiar with what a “ruler” was, but most likely didn’t understand what it meant to shepherd a people. A good shepherd steers us away from harm, pushes us away from isolation, and cuts away the things that are hurting us, even though we may be so familiar with them that we’re not sure if it’s for our best to have them gone from our lives. Even though He could, Jesus doesn’t just rule… He shepherds. He leads us to still waters and restores our souls. He knows what’s best for us and He desires to guide us if we’ll only trust Him.

During this season, let us be grateful and trust that we not only have a holy, just ruler over our lives but also a loving, merciful Shepherd who always does what is best for us.