Many famous paintings have pictured Jesus as the Good Shepherd, carrying a lamb over His shoulders or in His arms. In fact, some of the earliest artistic depictions of Jesus found in the Catacombs of Rome portray Him not on a cross, but as a shepherd. Today’s reading is another prophecy in which the Messiah is pictured as both a shepherd and a king. Here, God’s prophet delivered a word of “comfort” (repeated twice for emphasis) in the midst of suffering— meaning the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests (vv. 1–2).
We hear from three voices. First, a “voice” prepares the way, clearing the road for the arrival of the King (vv. 3–5). As we know from reading the Gospels, this prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1–6). The second “voice” is a reminder that “the word of our God endures forever” (vv. 6–8). Grass withers, flowers fade, people are imperfect. But God is the opposite. He is infinite, eternal, and perfectly holy and faithful. He keeps all His promises. For this reason, He is the only genuine source of comfort!
Finally, one more voice proclaims from a mountaintop, “Here is your God!” (vv. 9–11). The King has arrived! His power is awesome. The nations will be completely unable to stand against Him. Yet at the same time, His rule will be characterized by a shepherd’s gentleness and love (v. 11; see Jer. 31:10). He will take the lambs—the weakest and most vulnerable sheep—into His arms, carry them close to His heart, and lead them to life everlasting.
>> The Jewish people needed these precious words of comfort. And so do we today! Sinners need the good news that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). If you’ve never done so, we urge you to trust Him today for salvation!