This was the song that I sang some 35 years ago in my youth fellowship days. (So now you now how old I am.) But it isn’t until now that I realise how true it is: that we are His sheep, in more ways than one.
Like in this song, we often (if not most of the time) think of ourselves as the sheep of His pasture (Psa 100:3 See also Psa 95:7) only in the positive light; that since God is our Shepherd, it is His duty to lead and feed us. So far, God has never failed in carrying out His “duties”, as we put it. But have we forgotten our duties: to obey the voice of the shepherd?
Over and over again, the Scripture uses sheep to represent us, God’s people. Have you ever wondered why? That’s right, because we keep going astray. Sheep most aptly represent us because of the similarities in mentality and behaviour. A flock of sheep cannot travel more than ten feet without at least one of them going astray because it was distracted by something. For this reason, John categorically states that “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), and “if we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). “All have sinned,” declares Paul, the apostle (Rom 3:23). For this reason also – because we can hardly keep to the strait and narrow path – that we need the inspired Scripture, which is “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Once in a while (hopefully not too frequently) God would have to send prophets to get us back to the path, like sheep dogs herding a flock of sheep. We were sheep not only while we were still sinners. We are still sheep, in God’s eye, even after conversion.
This Biblical concept that believers are like sheep affects the subject of knowing the Will of God. For a long time now, I have tried to figure out the Will of God with my mind. After all, did not Paul exhort us “not to be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”? (Eph 5:17). I have come to see that while it is possible (in fact, not hard) to know God’s Will, it is another thing to walk in it fully – because we have the mentality of sheep. The only way that we will ever fully walk in God’s Will is if we constantly walk in humility and subjection to the leading of the Holy Spirit in us. More important, I think, than knowing the Will of God is knowing the voice of the Shepherd.