Shepherd Following the Sheep

Shepherd Following the Sheep

While writing The Davidic Covenant 7 – The Kingdom, the phrase “from following the sheep” used in NKJV & NASB versions in 2 Samuel 7:8 caught my attention. In some Bible versions, the word “tending” was used but the versions I use for Bible study use “following” and so my discussion will be based this. The sheep follows the shepherd, why is it the reverse here? I went on a side quest of finding out more if this phrase has any significant meaning while writing on the Davidic Covenant.

The Way of the Shepherd

One of the most interesting find in my search was the phrase “leading from behind”, a leadership concept in the marketplace that is rather revolutionary or even debatable. This leadership concept is derived from the how shepherd’s the lead the sheep from the rear. Thought this blog post is a great read about leading from behind after going through quite a number: https://saffold.com/blog/2016/12/15/leading-from-behind-the-shepherds-way/.

The shepherd’s usual practice is to walk behind their sheep to guide the sheep and to allow them to run ahead. So visually, the shepherd is following the sheep. This is completely different from my visual image of the shepherd with his staff walking ahead to lead the way. The sheep is allowed to run ahead! It might be easily misunderstood, at least for someone who grew up in an urban city, that the shepherd is skiving or not doing his job if the sheep is running ahead. Standing behind the sheep makes sense as the shepherd is able to immediately notice if any sheep goes off track, use his staff and hook it back. If he is walking in front, he will only notice any lost sheep after he stop and count, which might be too late.

My next question is how will the sheep know where to go if no one is leading in front. I was reminded of Jesus’ teaching in John.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27

The Nazareth Village where I visited when I was in Israel had some sheep and of course there was a shepherd who took care of them. The shepherd did a demonstration of calling out the sheep and the sheep responded immediately. The sheep did not cared about anyone of us who were making all sorts of noise to get attention from the sheep. I believe this is how the shepherd leads the sheep from behind – using his voice.

Yet when danger comes, the shepherd will move to the front to protect and fight off the enemy. This is the time when David will run to the front to face the bear or lion whom he defeated over and over. A good shepherd does not run away when danger comes. Instead he rises up to the occasion and get the sheep behind him, standing between enemy and the sheep.

God as a Shepherd

God showed David how He was the Shepherd to him in 2 Samuel 7:9 “I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” Such a beautiful image here that God is the lead Shepherd. God as a good shepherd who moves to the front to cut off David’s enemies, just like how David would do for his sheep. God speaks to David in the very methodology that he is so familiar with since a young boy. The abiding presence of God was His way of leading in an unassuming way, similar to a shepherd leading from behind.  Yet God never fails to show up when dangers come because He is near even though not always visible in the front.

Where is God?

Where is God?” is a very common question that both believers and non-believers ask. Based on the way of the shepherd, I will say God is behind, usually! We probably cannot see Him but He has full view of us. Sometimes we wonder if God is leading the way, waiting for Him to come to the front and lead the way as we expect from most leaders. Yet, His way is for us to hear His voice to guide and direct us to the pasture He wants us to move to. We can run along, skip and be free to move towards the destination when we hear His voice leading! On top of this, we have the full assurance that He will come between us and our enemies when danger comes.

So let us rest in our Shepherd’s leading and protection.

The Davidic Covenant 7 - The Kingdom

The Davidic Covenant 7 – The Kingdom

“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13, 16 (NKJV)

As we talk about kingdom, it is impossible to exclude the other two aspects – house and throne. In the two verses above, there was mentioned of house, throne and kingdom. They are different aspects of the Davidic Kingdom with distinct features.

The Three Aspects of the Davidic Kingdom

The house is linked with the king. The house provides a lineage of kings where there is continuity in kingship over the Kingdom. To diffentiate the Davidic Kingdom from the generic kingdom, small caps is used instead. In general, kingdom is represented by people and land. The Davidic Kingdom does involve a physical location, which is the boundaries promised by God. Historically, we know that Israel has been in first exile by Assyria in about 733 BCE, commonly called the diaspora. The geographical land became a sovereign Israel state once again in 1948. You can take a look at the timeline of Israel which is interesting (https://embassies.gov.il/UnGeneva/AboutIsrael/history/Pages/History-Israel-Timeline.aspx). For a kingdom to exist, both people and land are needed. The third aspect is throne. Physically a throne is a ceremonial chair, but it represents authority to rule. A kingdom can have a king, with people and land in place, but if there is no throne, the kingdom will be in chaos.

“In mercy the throne will be established;
And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,
Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” – Isaiah 16:5 (NKJV)

The authority of a throne comes with it the legal system and governance that holds a kingdom together. I love how Isaiah 16:5 starts with mercy as the throne is also the place of judgement. Instead of judgement, the throne in the Davidic covenant is based on mercy which was discussed in Part 6. From this Isaiah verse, it is clear that The Tabernacle of David is not just about worship and intercession, but actual rule and authority that is given to the son of David.

Below is a simple diagram to summarise the three aspects.

The Davidic Covenant 7 - The Kingdom

The “No End” of the Kingdom

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” – Luke 1:32-33 (NKJV)

In these Luke verses, the dual identity of Jesus is mentioned – Son of David and Son of God. The Kingdom of David, reigning over the house of Jacob is declared but there is no mention of the Kingdom of God here. The only characteristic of this kingdom indicated here is “no end”. “Forever” was also mentioned three times in 2 Samuel 7:13, 16. What does “no end” or “forever” actually mean since it is emphasised repeatedly?

The Greek word for “end” used in Luke 1:33 is “telos“, according to the lexicon it means “the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time)“. It is interesting that the end does not allude to time, which was what I had in mind before searching out the lexicon for its Greek word. My initial interpretation was the Kingdom of David is eternal. Now understanding what telos mean, the Kingdom of David goes deeper beyond time eternity but the state of its kingdom will not cease. The significance is that the Kingdom of David will NOT fluctuate, going through the rise and fall of kingdoms as demonstrated by human history of all nations. There is a stability in the Kingdom of David promised, a good finality.

Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven during His short three years of ministry on earth found in the four Gospels. The Romans labeled him “king of the Jews” when Jesus died on the cross. With the dual identity of Jesus as Son of David and Son of God, He does not only reign as king over the Kingdom of David, but also the Kingdom of God. This is a difficult concept to grasp as two kingdoms are coexisting in a same Person who is king over both. I will try a weak attempt using a modern day example. Not too long ago, the United States was regarded as the sovereign super power nation of the world and the President of the United States is considered the world leader. A world leader has to come from a particular nation. For Jesus, it is Israel from the lineage of King David. Being the king of Israel does not stop or restrict Him from being the leader over all of God’s Kingdom, i.e. the world, while Israel has its own people and geographical location.

Telos besides being used in Rev 21:26 & 22:13 in the description of Jesus as “the Beginning and the End”, is also found in Rev 2:26.

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—” – Revelation 2:26 (NKJV)

The other definition of telos is eternal. If applying this definition to Rev 2:26, it means keeping God’s works for eternity! In other words, there is “no end”. This is the promise given to church in Thyatira and I believe it applies to all believers who continually  overcome and walk in obedience. The reward is authority over the nations, meaning to reign with Christ! What a privilege! The Kingdom of David extends to the nations in the Kingdom of God.

There is so much to study about the Kingdom of God but I will stop here as the topic is the Kingdom in relation to Davidic Covenant. Thus in this post, the only focus was forever as mentioned in the Davidic Covenant. It will be interesting to study more about the Kingdom of God as if we do not know the Kingdom of God, our recitation of the Lord’s prayer “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done here on earth as in heaven” will one be a superficial recitation and not a conviction.

The Davidic Covenant Series: