“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11 “
What a promise! I remember finding this little gem in scripture. I remember how it felt for the Holy Spirit in me to grab ahold of the words on the page and say… this right here for you today! It’s a verse we highlight and date and text to our friends in the trenches of parenting. It’s a verse that causes us to say, “Yes! this is a LIVING word!”
If you ask a room full of Bible readers their favorite chapter of the bible, Isaiah 40 would be my bet to win the room. Following 39 chapters of woes, God announces his redemption and the first and second word of this chapter is “comfort”! It is good news: the gospel proclaimed and continuing through the end of the book. But if there is ever a case for reading verses of the Bible in context, Isaiah makes it!
Seeing this verse alone is very special but when you set it in the context of the brilliance of Isaiah 40, it becomes truly breathtaking! Always better to dig for yourself, but here are a few points of the context that increase the wattage of this verse in our lives.
Verses 6-8 tell us that ALL people are like grass and their faithfulness is like flowers of the field: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Right off, we are reminded that what is written in this book is backed by the eternal faithfulness of God. This verse is not just God on His best day or God in a fruitful season or God when He is happy with me. His faithfulness to His word is eternal. Shepherding His people, carrying them close to His heart, gently leading those who lead the young on this earth IS who He is yesterday, today and forever.
Verses 10 calls Him “Sovereign Lord” who “comes with power” and “rules with a mighty arm.” This is the Mighty King, Ruler of the universe coming with reward and recompense. The Sovereign Judge imagery can be better understood by reading the previous 39 chapters. What does it change that this is not some poor shepherd trapped in this way of life by ancestry or poverty, this is God Almighty who tenderly bends low to tend His flock like a shepherd? A Mighty God who gathers and carries and cuddles with great affection His own? A Lord of Angel Armies who “gently” leads those that have young?
Verses 12-28 go on to be the larger gems that are more often quoted from this chapter. Proclaiming that this Shepherd has “measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” and “with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens” and “weighed the mountains” and the “hills in balance.” “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” and “brings out the starry host one by one”…calling them each by name. It is this Creator God, who carries you and me close to His heart. Amazing!
Verses 29-31 give us a picture of what His shepherding looks like: giving strength to the weary, power to the weak, enabling them to soar, run, and some days just walk and not faint.
There is so much more. What does your digging in this diamond mine reveal?
One more thing this verse shows us is that the next generation on this planet is intensely important to our God. In ministry, I often find that people stiff arm serving in children’s ministry. I’m even guilty of it. But this is not God’s heart. Remember, they are our arrows. By investing in the lives of children and young adults we can be the hands and feet of God to gently lead those who have young. Will you join me in praying for God to raise up more to love and care for the young in our churches and communities? Will you consider answering the call?
Note: In Bible Study Fellowship, I learned a precious old hymn that reflects a response to Isaiah 40:11 so well. Maybe you could try singing it to yourself today! “I am Jesus little lamb. Ever glad of heart I am. For my savior gently guides me. Knows my need and well provides me, Loves me ev’ry day the same, Even calls me by my name.” by Henriette Louise von Hayn
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Offices by Biblica, Inc.™