The shepherds are senseless
and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
and all their flock is scattered.
When I read that, I was like, whoa, God, you’re really calling them out. What exactly do You want them to ask You about? I mean, what they are doing isn’t rocket science. I’m not saying their work is super easy, but it doesn’t seem very complex:
- You don’t need to get a degree to learn how to be a shepherd.
- You don’t need to go through an apprenticeship or any sort of extensive training.
- You probably don’t have to read books or study for a standardized exam or watch some instructive YouTube videos to do a decent job.
I mean, honestly, you’re just watching over a bunch of animals, letting those animals be animals and you learn as you go – how to get their attention, corral them, fend off predators, keep them alive, and keep them together. That’s really your one task: keep them alive, and keep them together.
But according to this verse, God expects shepherds to inquire of Him. What might those questions sound like? Well, I actually can only come up with one single inquiry:
“Where should we go, God?”
That’s it. I’ve got nothing else. Everything else seems so very self-evident. So very, like, “duh!” I mean, are you supposed to ask God “What should I feed them?” when all you have is grass all around you? Are you supposed to ask God “What time should I get up in the morning?” when you have to get up when the animals get up?
But all Scripture is God-breathed, and He put that indictment against these shepherds in His Word for a reason. And He points out very clearly that they are senseless because they didn’t inquire of Him, and as such will not prosper and that their flocks will be scattered.
I mentioned you have two tasks as a shepherd: to keep the animals alive, and to keep them together. God is basically saying that you’re going to fail on both accounts because you failed to reach out to Him for wisdom, guidance, direction, and connection.
And even though I could only think of one question to ask God if I were a shepherd, I am sure there are plenty more. And that’s the thing – when you know God as your only source and only help and only hope – and you have absolutely nothing else to depend on, not even yourself – there is plenty to inquire of Him. Plenty.
From my perspective, my life is a lot more complex than a shepherd’s. It feels like I have a billion more responsibilities and stressors and obligations and pressures. But these verses served as a mirror to me, and what reflected back was disappointing and even a little shameful. But I’m glad for the correction.
I need to inquire of the Lord a lot more than I do.
Otherwise, I just flat out will not prosper. And my flock will be scattered. What could that possibly look like if I fail to regularly reach out to Him, consult with Him, connect with Him? Well, things could go sideways in my relationship to my wife or my kids. That which I am currently stewarding – what’s in my bank account, my car, my home, my investments, my work projects – could be taken from me and given to others. Those under me – who I am meant to mentor and inspire and encourage – might no longer look to me in that capacity or role. I could honestly lose everything. Everything important to me could fall away.
I think God, as our Heavenly Father, just wants to be involved.
He just wants to do life with us, and inquiring of Him about any and everything – whether it seems mundane or self-evident or really important – makes that happen. It brings Him to our remembrance constantly, and He deserves that. I mean, He holds us and our lives together. He definitely holds me together; I would be such a hot mess without Him and the peace, confidence, strength, and unconditional love He provides.
And I want to do life with Him. I really, really, really do. I just get busy, or self-reliant, or too comfortable in my own strength and choices and decisions and plans, for my own today and tomorrow and next month and next year. By default, it becomes all about me more and more and more. And that’s sad, and regrettable. Because truly, I want it to be about Him more and more and more. That is my heart. That is my desire.
I know – and have experienced time and time again – that when He is involved, everything works out so much better. He blesses me immensely with regard to what I say and do so much when I’ve prayed about it, sought His insight, and relied on His perspective (instead of my own, or the world’s perspective). And though I know this full well, I still get lazy, or prideful, or complacent, or just too comfortable – not remembering when things are good how badly I need Him in my life.
But I always want to remember how badly I need Him in my life.
Because that keeps us close to each other. And that keeps me dependent, humble, unassuming, patient, grateful, and kind.
Plus, the complexities of my life are so much more manageable when He’s right there with me to help shoulder the load and love me through it, every single step of the way.