verb: to take care of, to watch over, to stand by in readiness
“... We're his people, his well-tended sheep.” Psalm 100:3
Tend. Such an old-fashioned word. I imagine people in simpler times “tending” the garden, “tending” the stove, "tending the home". These things require more patience and focus than I have most of the time. And tending sheep? That sounds extraordinarily boring. What do shepherds even do anyway? Just sit and look at their sheep all day?
The job of shepherd must be more important than I realize, though, because Jesus sure talks about it a lot.
Apparently, this is what they are expected to do:
Lead hundreds of sheep to water, food, and rest several times a day. Care for the sick and injured ones by delicately rubbing oil in their wounds to prevent disease. Hold them close to provide comfort and relief from their pain.
"Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them..." Isaiah 40:11
Navigate dangerous pathways, keep every sheep from getting lost or left. Stay alert and awake all day (and sometimes all night) to protect the sheep from predators. A truly dedicated shepherd will be prepared to give his own life to save the sheep from harm.
"David said, 'I've been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I'd go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I'd grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it.' " 1 Samuel 17:34
Lead, care, comfort, hold, navigate, keep, stay, protect, sacrifice...not to mention the terrible schedule and harsh working conditions. What an overwhelming, grueling, stress-filled job. I feel bad for making fun of it.
A shepherd has to be tender and tough at the same time.
Jesus is perfectly both. And we are the sheep who desperately need him to be.
Let’s invite Him in: Let him tend to you today. Come to him for all these things you need: his leading, his healing, his comfort, his protection. You can count on him to keep you from getting lost or left, or ask him just to stay with you for awhile. He's already sacrificed his own life to save you, proving his dedication and love. You can trust him to take care of you 24/7.