Sovereign Lord, Gentle Shepherd

Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:10-11

The United States of America has never been keen on sovereigns or their sovereignty. We prefer someone we can vote into a position and call upon as necessary—and vote out when we choose! And if we’re honest, this is often true of our approach to God as well. We prefer to control rather than to be controlled.

God, however, cannot be managed or remade in our image. He is the sovereign Lord, whose existence perfectly contrasts with our human frailty and finite nature. We are like grass and springtime flowers, which wither and fall. It’s not so with God, who has ruled and reigned over everything for all eternity. Even His word stands forever (Isaiah 40:6-8).

In His sovereignty, God has accomplished an amazing conquest: victory over sin and death. In His immense wisdom, He, the Lawgiver, came in the person of Jesus, submitted to and fulfilled the very law He had given, and then died in the place of sinners to pay our debt and give us eternal life. As Peter preached, “God raised him up … because it was not possible for him to be held” by death’s power (Acts 2:24). This is His victory. 

Those who once were sad, alienated, and guilty, and living in the fear of death have now been set free.

While God is the sovereign Lord, though, He is also our gentle Shepherd. He doesn’t come to His people like some great general onto a battlefield; instead, He carries His flock close to Him, leading them with compassion. Those who once were sad, alienated, and guilty, and living in the fear of death have now been set free. Victoriously, He declares, “I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost” (John 17:12).

We can rejoice in God’s sovereignty, for He is both mighty and gentle, the Shepherd seeking to bring in the lost and accomplish His mission. When He’s at work, His voice speaks and the deaf hear, His light shines and the blind see. We have been gathered up to the heart of this gentle Shepherd and can live confident that this world belongs to our sovereign Father.

One challenge in the Christian life is to have a view of God that is big enough: to know Him as both “the LORD God” who “comes with might” and before whom we come with reverent awe, and as the one who “will tend his flock like a shepherd” and whom we follow in intimate friendship. The Lord Jesus is both the Lion and He is the Lamb (Revelation 5:5-6). Which do you find hardest to remember and live in light of? Remember both and you will obey Him and enjoy Him, as both your Sovereign and as your Shepherd.

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life: 365 Daily Devotions by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.