“Wind & Waves” Part 15

Wind & Waves
“Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.” Proverbs 27:23-24
 
This pastoral proverb about “caring for flocks and herds” is heartwarming and inspiring. It is an admonition to go well beyond merely taking care of one’s “flocks and herds,” to “knowing them well.” The idea of a good shepherd “knowing well” his flocks and herds has deep, rich meaning for pastoral care. “Knowing well” carries the ideas of “concerning oneself intimately and personally with another’s well-being; intense involvement that exceeds a simple cognitive relationship.” There is a oneness between shepherd and herds described by the words “pay attention” to them; meaning “set your heart” to them. The writer says know their “condition” well. In other words, a good shepherd is personally and intimately in touch with the status of the health of those under his care. “Know well their condition” in the Hebrew language is “know their face well.” To know one’s “face” in the ancient Hebrew culture was to “know the character and heart, the inner workings” of the one into whose eyes you were looking. In Exodus 33, the LORD said to Moses, “You cannot see My face (essence, unobstructed sight of all that He is), for no one can see Me and live.” The Apostle Paul agonized about being separated from his spiritual flock in Thessaloniki, “…we were all the more eager with great desire to see your face…” (1 Thessalonians 2:17). It was no mere social, sentimental friendship that Paul had with the Thessalonians, nor the Hebrew shepherd with his flocks and herds. He had “set his heart to know their condition well.” A good shepherd invests his whole self in the well-being of his flock; it takes energy, discipline, kindness, shrewdness, and many other virtues bestowed by God – personified as Wisdom in the Proverbs (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). While some “riches are not forever,” flocks and herds are self-replicating if cared for properly by the shepherd, and the flock becomes a “crown” to the shepherd (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Well-cared for sheep who are personally known by a good shepherd will be a source of glory and honor at the Lord’s return. There is no better or greater investment than the investment in the spiritual well-being of God’s flock. One theme of my sabbatical will be “Know Your Flock.” I will be spending much time reading, studying, praying, and meditating upon biblical teaching about Pastoral Care; how is the Pastor called by God to care for His flock? What does a good shepherd do? What does a bad shepherd do? How well do I know my flock? How healthy is my flock? What care does my flock need and how can I by the power of Christ provide that care? Is there oneness between myself as shepherd and my flock? I would invite you to unite our hearts in prayer about all of these things during my time away on sabbatical, and rejoice in advance for all that God is doing.