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August 30

1 Peter 5:5-7

5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. — 1 Peter 5:5-7

Living in the Flock of the Good Shepherd

by Marlin Keel

Few if any of us see ourselves as being humble and submissive like sheep. After all, sheep are weak, vulnerable, helpless and subject to the leadership and protection of the shepherd. The world tells us we don’t need a shepherd. Instead, we need to be strong and self-sufficient. And besides, who knows a ‘shepherd’ you can trust these days?

It is a fact that we don’t see advertisements for seminars about ‘Being all the Sheep You can Be,’ ‘Sheepishness is an Art,’ or ‘The Seven Qualities of a Highly Effective Sheep.’ The world promotes leadership, authority and self-sufficiency.

Peter paints a much different picture in today’s scripture passage. By commanding the younger men to be submissive to the elders, Peter acknowledges that it is right to recognize and respect the spiritual wisdom age and experience can bring. There is no age definition in this scripture, for in reality most of us are “younger men.” There is almost always someone—a friend, mentor or a member of our church congregation—who is older and wiser in experience and perspective than we are.

Second, Peter says we are to clothe ourselves in humility. The reference is to a purposeful ‘putting on’ of humility each and every day. The discipline of humility becomes an automatic response of spiritual covering, as automatic as putting on our clothes each day before we greet the world. Clothing ourselves in humility is not external and superficial, but internal and a matter of the heart. It defines a very important aspect of our love for God and our love for our neighbors.

Finally, Peter exhorts us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time.” What a marvelous place to be, under the mighty hand of God! Images of God’s protection and provision and power fill our mind’s eye, as we see ourselves within the shadow of the mighty hand of God. Where else can you and I know greater love, greater protection or greater peace? No other place offers us the promise of being exalted in God’s way, in God’s time and under God’s mercy and grace.

Peter vividly remembered the consequences of stepping outside the protection of the mighty hand of God. He knew firsthand that Satan desires us to step outside the coverage of God where we become vulnerable to his wiles and deceitful ways.

Peter closes this section of Chapter 5 by clearly reminding each of us that God cares about us. It is such a powerful promise that the God of the universe cares about His children personally and individually.

As a final thought, remember that David found comfort and peace in the fact that the Lord was his Shepherd (Psalm 23). David clearly understood his need to be a good ‘sheep’ who knew the Shepherd’s voice, loved the Shepherd, trusted the Shepherd and submitted to the leadership of the Shepherd.

Praxis

  1. Do you trust God enough to humble yourself under His mighty hand?
  2. The shepherd/sheep image and relationship is a common thread woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. Look at 1 Samuel 16, Psalm 23, Luke 2, Luke 15 and John 10 for additional readings.
  3. Think about how you invest the time God has given you. What reward are you seeking: something given by the world or that of being “exalted” by God at the proper time?