You hem me in, behind and before—Psalm 139:5
Think of the perfection of intuition our Lord has toward his beloved sheep. As the One who has created us, he knows us perfectly: inside and out. His intuition toward us is spot-on, flawless.
Think of the perfection of a skilled shepherd who knows when to get out in front and lead the sheep where they must go: to drink beside cool waters, to rest in the meadows, to feed in lush pasture lands? At just the right time he leads them to these places for their own wellbeing and good. He knows when he gets out in front, they will follow him; at the sound of his voice, they will respond and follow obediently.
He also knows when to walk beside them. Accompanying them on their journey to their destination. The course has been established. They sense where he is leading them, now all there is to do is maintain their course and be on their way. He walks beside them for companionship, to listen to them, to be close to them, to encourage and inspire them, to let them sense his presence in the journey. When he is beside them, they are assured of his faithfulness, his care and concern, his love and covenant relationship with them; they are confident sheep, want for nothing and fear nothing.
But he also knows when to get behind them and drive them forward. This is especially necessary for those sheep who are prone to laziness; lack the motivation to keep going, to keep moving past and onward. Those who like to stop and lick their wounds, feel sorry for themselves for their lot in life; those who become attached to one spot and want to stay behind; those who get distracted and are prone to wander. Even when the shepherd is behind them, he has perfect vision of the flock and at the proper time he will take the lead again; remind them of the destination they are headed.
David wrote, “You hem me in behind and before.” Our Good Shepherd not only has the human instinct of leading and shepherding sheep, but all the divine instinct and qualities. He has made us and knows us full well. We are the sheep of his own pasture and in every season of our life, each day of our life he is knowing which position he will need to take with us. Are we needing him to lead us out of darkness, terrible moods, confusion, hopelessness, despair, unforgiveness? Does he need to lead us to that place where we can rest and be refreshed? Does he need to lead us to drink beside cool, spiritual waters? Does he need to walk beside us as we heal from brokenness, because we are feeling lonely, as we observe a season of grief, endure trials and difficulties, come to grips with disappointment or make it through temptation? Walking beside us so we can sense his faithfulness and companionship? The Shepherd’s perfect intuition, wisdom, and knowledge is a canopy of blessing over his sheep.
Does he need to get behind us to spur us on, push us from laziness, self-absorption, lack of motivation, push us to do better, reach further; push us past guilt, shame, hesitance, timidity? He does not drive us because he is in a hurry to get us home, but because he knows we are apt to become stuck and make no progress on our journey.
The blessings of being “hemmed in “ by the Good Shepherd are too numerous to count. We can be assured we are protected, nourished, nurtured, healed, blessed and favored. No wolf or fiery dart of the enemy shall destroy us. None will be lost or left to go it alone. The Shepherds careful monitoring of his sheep can encourage and affirm us. Let’s Pray
Jesus, our Good and intuitive Shepherd, you bless our lives beyond measure. You hem us in, behind and before and there is nothing we have need of; nothing we want for in your care. We praise you Good Shepherd. We have no desire for life or existence outside of your care. Your pasture is our blessed place to live and dwell. In your name we pray. Amen