“Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you feed your flock, where you make it to rest at noon. For why should I be as she who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions? If you do not know, O you fairest among women, go your way forth by the footsteps of the flock and feed your kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” vs7-8
The shepherd’s tents are where we hear the gospel. Peter said, “Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly (1 Pet 5:3).” The Lord Jesus has made men under shepherds, and He’ll reward us when the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Pet 5:4).
Shepherding involves feeding the flock with God’s word and preaching the gospel for our salvation; it is being faithful to the Scriptures and loving, glorifying God in all that He says.
1 We must suffer to be faithful shepherds. Paul said, “Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished (Gal 5:11).” If he preached salvation by works or did not draw clear lines, then he would not be accused of being offensive, too hard, or narrow minded; if it was something that man could receive in the flesh, then he’d be praised for it, but Paul gave out things only understood by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). Therefore, he was persecuted like his Master, and we will be, if we’re faithful. Our Lord said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:19).”
Paul was hated by men, but his job was to make Christ known, and our allegiance is to God and souls. The faithful shepherd cares not about himself, but he feeds the flock because he cares about God’s grace (Jer 23:4). He’s obtained mercy, and the debt he owes is FAITHFULNESS to other people. Paul said, “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome (Rom 1:15).” This is how you know the true messenger: he shepherds God’s flock with God’s gospel, caring not about offense, so long as the Lord is glorified: he knows this is how God saves sinners and encourages us.
2 We need the shepherd’s ministry. No man is an island unto himself. We need faithful teaching, so we can teach others. Be in the the Scriptures, yes, but be among the saints also. We cannot function without encouragement, so He sends us to the word, as it is faithfully expounded in the power the Spirit.
God’s given men to the church, and we need them because of their gifts! He says, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11).” He’s chosen to speak by them to our hearts, and we must receive their ministry.
It is good to go to scripture, but sometimes the voice is faint, and we need to read and hear others. We need these teaching gifts. We need to hear the local preacher and be edified by different brethren. We are not riding solo! The Lord tells us where He feeds us, and it keeps us from going to the world. She says, “Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you feed your flock, where you make it to rest at noon. For why should I be as she who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions (vs7)?”
If we are not fed, then we diminish, never to lose salvation, but we will lose usefulness. Do not fall in the trap of getting comfort elsewhere! He’s given us His word by those who preach it, speaking things into our heart that we cannot see.
3 If you’re a shepherd, then devote yourself to the gospel ministry. The Apostles, said, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).” They didn’t have time to wait on tables, doing the work of deacons, so they ordained a special class of saints for this vital task, while they DEVOTED themselves, wholeheartedly, to the preached word (Acts 6:3).
The gospel is the power of God, and we’ve been sent to proclaim it. Too many are interested in too many things, while the word of God sits without meditation. They are busy with the cares of this life and idle vanities, while souls need to be fed. Do we realize that we’ve been gifted above all humanity to do the one thing needful? That we’ve been given grace so that others might see? Paul was told, “But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and of what I will reveal to you (Acts 26:16).” If you understand the value of your gift and the joy of using it, then get your eyes on Christ, daily, so you can give out what you see. Do not be slothful in this business, but stretch yourself into new responsibilities, and give all that you have (2 Tim 4:5). He will refill you, and the more that you water, you’ll be watered also.
Do not have a mind of, “The elect will hear”, while you sit on your hands! Gospel doctrine promotes gospel obedience, not sloth and negligence. Labor, like Paul, more abundantly, and know that grace is the cause and the focus (1 Cor 15:10).
Brothers, are you weary in soul? Get to where Christ is preached – in the word and the local assembly.