My Shepherd All My Life Long

January 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

Genesis 48:15-16.  This passage recently caught my eye in my devotions.  The background for it is interesting.  Joseph’s brothers and his father Jacob had recently moved to Egypt, and Pharaoh was to meet them.  Joseph warned them that when Pharaoh asked their occupation not to say they were shepherds but to say they kept livestock (Gen 46:33-34).  But guess what?  As soon as Pharaoh asked the anticipated question, they answered with the dreaded word (47:3)!  They were shepherds; their father was a shepherd, and they couldn’t remove themselves from being shepherds.  In other words, being shepherds was their entire life experience.

So when Jacob was old and near death, he decided to bless Joseph’s sons.  It is not the blessing that caught my eye as much as the description Jacob used of God.  “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless these boys.” (48:15-16 ESV)   This man who was a shepherd all his life, this man who was over 140 years old, looked back and said God was his shepherd all those years.  What a tender thought!  He knew what a shepherd was; he knew how a shepherd cared for his sheep, and he knew how God had cared for him.  This casts Jacob, who was a deceiver in his earlier life, in a different light than I usually see him.  In spite of his sinful ways, he had a dynamic relationship with God.

I wonder if David had recently read this portion of Genesis when he penned his most famous song, Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  And, centuries later, when God walked on this earth, he used the same imagery when he called himself our Good Shepherd (John 10).

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