The Shepherd Who Lays Down His Life for His Father’s Sheep

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”

1 Samuel 17:34-36 NKJV

When we look at the life of David and what he did, it is very exciting, satisfying and impressive. Especially in this scene where he defeats Goliath, we can see how the one that valiantly fights for the sake of God’s honor and His name and brings great satisfaction to God.

He was originally a shepherd looking after the flock. Whose flock was he looking after? His father’s flock. And even these little details are not to be overlooked. They are very important. He was a shepherd who watched over his father’s flock. What was his attitude when he was tending the flock? He regarded them more precious than his own life, for they were his father’s sheep. With hired men, when a lion or a bear comes and takes away one of the sheep, they are not going to fight the lion or bear to get the sheep back. Do you know how thick a lion’s legs are? With one punch, your bone will be broken. Just one punch will break your bone. Nevertheless, David struck such a lion and opened its jaws to deliver the sheep that it had taken.

In that situation, people would normally think it is too late to save the sheep since it is probably dead and let the lion go. But David chased the lion or the bear and ripped their jaws to bring the sheep back to his father even if it died so that at least the flesh is returned to his father.

And it was because of these qualities as a shepherd that God used him. If you read Genesis 17:8, God’s promise to Abraham is mentioned, and the whole promise is summed up to establish a covenant. Verse 8 covers everything in the promise. “I give to you and your descendants after you” – first of all, it mentions descendants. And then “(I give) the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession.” The land of Canaan is mentioned. And then God says, “And I will be their God.”

Now, what does it mean when God says, “I will be their God?” Who is God? It sounds nice because God says He will be our God. But what is good about it? Who is God that makes it good? If a person is going to be my wife, what is it about my wife that is good? You need to know that. So what does it mean when God says, “I will be their God?” In Leviticus 26:12 it says, “I will be your God and you will be My people.”

“I will be your God and you will be My people.” For us now, we say, “He will be our Father and we, His children.” If there is a father, there is a child. In the same way, if there is God, who is also there? His people. If there is God, there are His people also. We normally think that if there is a people, there would be a king. In fact, that is the same meaning. When God says, “I will be your God,” He is saying, “I will be your King.” “I’ll be your King.”

So now we know that He is our King. Although other nations all had kings, Israel did not. Later on, Israel asked for a king. Even though they already had a king, they did not acknowledge him as king and asked for another king. So they had already become corrupted. They had agreed when God said, “I will be Your God and you will be My people,” but down the line, they asked for a king. Hence, what did they consider God as all that time? They had despised their King and did not regard Him as King. And that is where the problem started.

So, they needed to know what a king is. What does the king have to do with us? What is the nature of a king? The misconception that the devil has planted in everyone is that a king is a dictator, a plunderer, who is cruel at times, indifferent towards the people and exploits the people. For example, the emperor Qin Shi Huang did not care whether or not his people died as long as his purpose was achieved. Thus, the Great Wall, which was built for him, is said to be a grave in itself. The Great Wall of China is a grave.

Hundreds of thousands or even millions of people died there. It was not constructed over a couple of days but many decades. Those people would have worked there all their lives. So, what do you think the average lifespan was? While working there, they would have caught the cold, lung infection and so on. Hence, do you think they lived to their full lifespan? Once they became adults and were taken to the construction site, they died within five or six years. They were either crushed to death, died of cold, died of starvation or fatigue. The labourers in the olden days did not live very long.

Therefore, since people grew up under such kings who treated them that way, their idea of a king is very cruel. But it is the devil who has intervened in order for people to have that mindset. However, a king originally is not that kind of a ruler. Who is the person who displays the true nature of a king? It is David. David was a king. What was his role as king? The role of a shepherd is actually the role of a king. A shepherd is a king. The prototype of a king is a shepherd. Hence, how does the shepherd treat his sheep? The most outstanding shepherd is, in God’s eyes, the best king.

Thus, when God said, “I will be your King,” He is saying that He will be their shepherd. This is found in the Psalms too. David confesses, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” that is, “The Lord is my King.” However, a shepherd has the original and central meaning. So, what is a shepherd like? He is not like a hired hand but takes charge of his father’s sheep and takes care of them for his loving father. That is a shepherd and a king.

Hence, a king is not the highest position, actually. The king is not the supreme. Who is the supreme? Who is above the king? It is an emperor. The emperor does not have anyone above him except God. Hence, there were tetrarchs. But they can just be called a king since they were appointed as a king. That is why, in medieval times, there were many kings (tetrarchs or governors). But only one emperor. There was only one emperor – Caesar, but many rulers/kings, just like Herod was a tetrarch of Judah. Caesar was the one who ruled over them all. He divided the provinces and put them in charge of it.

In the same way, God sent Jesus Christ as a king. And who does that king work for? He works for the Father. And we can find the prototype of that in David, who looked after his father’s flock. In what manner does the shepherd take care of the sheep? He gives his life to protect them. That is a king.

Thus, when God said, “I will be your king,” He means He will give His life to protect them. He does not mean that He will sit around eating while they would have to serve Him, fan Him and pay taxes to Him. He is explaining the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd.

Let’s read Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel 37:23. “They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions, but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned and will cleanse them. Then, they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Let’s read, it says immediately after He says, “they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Let’s read together. “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.” It says, “they shall all have one shepherd,” “David My servant shall be king over them” and that from then on they will obey God. And then it says in the last part of verse 25 that “David My servant shall be their prince forever,” doesn’t it?

In other words, He is telling them that one like David will be coming. A shepherd, a king who is like David, will be coming. And when the time came, what did the people of Israel say when Jesus came? They praised Him, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!” They called Him the Son of David, who will continue the line of David. So He is a King. He was appointed a king, and He is a shepherd.

People of old believed that the words which God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:8 were fulfilled during David’s time. But God clearly said he will be a prince forever, and David died. So, he was not an eternal king. So, who is the shepherd and king who even laid down His life for His people? That King, that David had finally come. When we were oppressed by the devil, we were utterly dead. But He delivered us. He not only delivered us from the jaws of the devil, but to save us, He gave His own blood and flesh to feed us and save us. And then He handed us over to the Father. Is there a son like Him in this world? Can you find a Shepherd and a King like Him elsewhere?

He is our Saviour Jesus. In other words, the promise which God made with Abraham has been fulfilled to us also. Isn’t it remarkable? What was fulfilled 4000 years ago is now fulfilled to us so that, in accordance with that promise, Jesus is our King, our Shepherd who leads us. Furthermore, He sent the Holy Spirit so that we may know God and allow us to partake in God’s work by making us shepherds so that we can deliver the sheep that are caught in the mouth of the devil just as Jesus did. That is how this work continues on.

Therefore, our faith is not about believing in what we see before us, but there is a promise made long ago within, which is God’s enormously great love and grace. Jesus is a King, just like David. He gave up His own life in order to keep the Father’s flock. So when He prayed to the Father, He said, “None of whom the Father gave Me is lost for this is the Father’s will. And I have come to fulfil the Father’s will. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Hence, God’s will is to save everyone to the end and raise them in the end. He does not think, “Oh, those sinners deserve to die! Those insolent and rude ones need to be taught a lesson!” He desires to save every one of them, even to the end. So do not misunderstand God. Do they misunderstand Jesus? The Lord will keep hold of us till the end, so we also have to hold on to Him too. We must not let go of Him. If we are thankful to our faithful Shepherd and King, then let us pray and ask Him that we may also live the life of a shepherd like Him.

God our Father, since we have received such great grace, help us to give all of our lives in fulfilling all the commission and taking care of the souls which God has entrusted to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 7, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team