I wrote this song based on a poem called the “Shepherd Was King” by Joseph Addison Richards. Last Sunday was the Good Shepherd Sunday that we have after Easter every year. I look forward to that Sunday and the great “Shepherd” Hymns. I also look forward to those lessons that speak of the Shepherd King. When Jesus looked at the crowds and had compassion on them because they “were like sheep without a Shepherd” he might as well have said that they were without a King. The Shepherd/King imagery is important. This is a paraphrase of Martin Franzmann’s excellent take on this in his book “Follow Me”.
Shepherd was the common title given the Kings back in the old days. The Bible assigns the functions of the shepherd to God. It assigns kingship to God. The title shepherd was applied in the Old Testament not so much to the then ruling kings as to a future king. The Messiah. The one who would come and rule over his people Israel and shepherd them. Ezekiel 34.promises his harassed and helpless people a Shepherd King. “I will set up over them one shepherd my servant David, and he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God. My servant David shall be Prince among them”. This is not just a restoration of a political king. That was obvious when Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world. Later on Ezekiel will talk about the fact that the reign of God through the shepherd David will mean the renewal of his people. They will have a new obedience, a new covenant of blessings. God will be in the midst of them and they would follow him. This is Shepherd King is compassionate. His compassion comes about because of man’s need not by man’s deserving. Jesus the Shepard King sees in mans need God’s opportunity. The Shepherd King spoke about that opportunity in the Sermon on the Mount, in the very first beatitude -Blessed are the poor in spirit. God comes to rule with his mercy over the beggars. God comes where human beings are at the dead-end, utterly in need of him.”
It take much to look around the world and believe that we are at a dead end. When we talk about Christian hope and the Shepherd King we must remember that our hope is always looking toward the end when the King will usher in his final Kingdom. As those who are led by the Shepherd, who are fed in the green pastures of his word, and adrink from the still waters of his mercy we are called upon to remember that and in all of our dealings with our fellow man we can never deal with just the present alone or with a man alone. We are on the way to the last judgment with our fellow man, and we have to do with God the judge. The coming of the Shepard King makes full the measure of God’s love. It also makes full the measure of God’s judgment. When he comes at the end of the age it will be “fulfillment” in every sense.