Who is Yahweh? Our Shepherd

The story continues…

Part 16 (Exodus 12-14)

After generations of slavery, the Israelites are sheep-like in their attitudes and behaviour. They find it hard to think for themselves or to show any initiative. Left to their own devices, they would never leave Egypt. But God ensures that they are driven out (Exodus 11:1); nobody gets the option of staying behind (Exodus 12:42)! The Egyptians themselves seem to be used in the role of sheepdogs, driving the Israelites away the day after Passover (Exodus 12:33), and then terrifying them into taking the daunting passage through the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21,23).

Like an oriental shepherd, God goes ahead of his flock in the form of a pillar of cloud (Exodus 13:21,22); then, when they are threatened, he stands between them and the enemy to protect them (Exodus 14:19,20). And as they travel on through the wilderness, He will not only guide them but also ensure that they have both food and water. He rules them; but He also cares for them. Here already is the raw material for David’s most famous psalm (Psalm 23):
“Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing…
He guides me along the right paths…
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil.”

Is it any coincidence that the two greatest leaders of Israel, Moses and David, had both worked as shepherds? (Exodus 3:1; I Samuel 17:15) There could be no better training for someone called to be God’s representative (Psalm 77:20).

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