Most of my life I had a rather distorted concept of shepherds. When I heard Bible stories about the shepherd David, I pictured him sitting on a rock, playing his harp and watching the sheep as they quietly grazed around him. But I got a completely different picture of shepherds when I observed them firsthand in Romania a few years ago. These hard-working men were constantly searching for places with fresh grass to eat and water to drink. They were up early in the morning, leading the sheep and tending to their needs, and returned after a full day of wandering, usually working at least fourteen-hour days.
David is a perfect example of a shepherd-warrior — one who could fight, nurture and sing at the same time. The heart of a shepherd is unselfish, willing to give up his own life for his sheep. Also, the heart of a shepherd is protective and sacrificial. Often enemy prey threatens the sheep and the shepherd must be on alert at all times. David told King Saul when he was wanting to fight the giant Goliath: “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth” (1 Samuel 17:34-35).
This is definitely not a shepherd who was taking long naps in the afternoon sun, strumming on his harp and taking it easy. No, he was alert and ready to do battle. And David was an amazing warrior. He went from victory to victory with a singing heart.
God does not make us just warriors, he also makes us worshippers. He causes us to sing regardless of what the enemy throws at us. David had a song when the lions came at him and when bears threatened him because he knew how to encourage himself in the Lord. He sang: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3).