by John F. Klem
The historically accurate birth narratives of the Lord Jesus Christ are crafted in a way that blends royal and peasant motifs. The King of Kings is presented to us in the trappings of a simple manger scene. Eventually, gentile magi, bearing costly gifts from their treasures, come to visit the young Christ Child (Matt. 2:11). But in the wise plan of the Lord, it was the peasant shepherds to whom the Angel of the Lord announced the arrival of the promised Messiah, the One Who would shepherd Israel (Luke 2:8–20; Matt. 2:6; Micah 5:2).
The shepherds, along with the shepherd theme, offer us comfort and hope (Rom. 15:4). There is no question that the birth narratives present to us a Messiah for the world. But Matthew reminds us when quoting Micah 5:2 that this Messiah for the world is also a Davidic Shepherd. In light of this, ponder the shepherd king link in the Scriptures.
Ancient Near Eastern leaders were recognized as shepherd kings. In Egypt, for example, the gods and the monarchs were viewed as shepherds. Pharaoh Senusret I (1991–1961 BC) declared that the god Amon appointed him shepherd of his land. In Israel and Judah, the kings were viewed as shepherds. Consider the words of Ezekiel 37:24. “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.” The prophet Jeremiah brings another perspective when he documents the Lord’s prosecution of the kings of Israel for not shepherding the people of Israel (Jer. 23).
With this in mind, recall Psalm 23:1 and think about it in this way: the Lord is my shepherd king! This is an awe-inspiring confessional statement with majestic royal tones. The divine Shepherd of Psalm 23:1 is more than a herdsman. He is a person of royal authority.
This aspect of ancient leadership deepens and brightens our understanding of Jesus as the good shepherd (John 10:11). The confession of the psalmist and the declaration of Christ are the comfort of the Scriptures for us today. Our divine Shepherd King is the all-wise caretaker of His sheep. He is the One Who gently leads His sheep to green pastures, to the quiet waters, and to the safe havens. The divine Shepherd cares for and protects His sheep.
Christ, the shepherd king, is the ruler out of Judah Who will shepherd Israel (Matt. 2:6; Micah 5:2; Gen. 49:10). In the New Testament we see the Shepherd King at work separating the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:32). Peter anticipates the return of the royal Christ, the chief shepherd Who will reward His sheep with a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). In Revelation 7:17, John presents Christ as the lamb in the midst of the throne, who is the shepherd guiding to springs of living water.
The comfort of the Scriptures is that the Christ Child is our shepherd king Who loves us, cares for us, and protects us through every season of our lives. O come, let us adore Him!
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.