A Sheepish Thought
Over the years, I have done more than one study on sheep. I have learned a lot about sheep by reading articles, listening to actual shepherds, and even listening to Bible studies about lost sheep, sheep headed to the slaughter, sheep following the shepherd, and so on.
Because sheep are mentioned in the Bible on several occasions and because they provide us with a lot of unique comparisons with humans, I’ve been intrigued to study them on more than one occasion. Because this article is about women I will refer to sheep in the female gender.
While the Bible does not call people sheep, it does state that we are like sheep. As I studied the subject of sheep I began asking myself in what way are we like sheep? Sheep are known to be dumb so does that mean we are dumb? Like sheep, can we not think for ourselves? Like sheep, will we just lay down and die when knocked over? Or are we compared to sheep because we are trusting, or gentle, or tolerant, or easily hurt? Is it a negative thing to be referred to “like sheep” or is it a positive thing?
When I was in Bible school the male students decided they would have a little fun by putting a sign in front of the girls dorm that read “Cattle Crossing.” It was derogatory, unkind, and hurtful and the young men got into some serious trouble over their lack of respect for their female classmates. It was supposed to be funny but these were students who were preparing to go into the ministry and if the staff had not corrected this behavior, the Bible school would have sent a clear message to the men that it was O.K. to show disrespect for those who would one day share in ministry with them and likewise a clear message that women are basically fat cows.
I venture to say if those same boys had put up a sign stating “Sheep Path” or “Sheep Crossing” or “Lamb Lane,” the reaction would have been very different. Why? Because sheep are gentle in nature. Sheep need to be led by the care and guidance of one who is concerned about where they are going. When God’s word is honored in the home, God gives the man the responsibility to love, protect, and lead his wife in a way that will keep any harm from coming her way. Cattle must be driven because they are stubborn, big, and can be violent when the circumstances are of a stressful nature; sheep, on the other hand, must be led with a tender hand, handled in a gentle manner and must feel protected which will result in sheep that will follow the shepherd.
It is a terrible thing to be cast down. We get the term “cast down” from the example of a sheep that has fallen due to tripping over a big rock that it did not see, or running away from a wild animal and in the process of running has lost its footing and has fallen to the ground. When a sheep falls she immediately rolls onto her back because she is top heavy. Once the sheep is on its back it is called “cast down” meaning without the help of a human hand to flip the sheep back on its feet, the sheep will never be able to turn herself over. A sheep is too top heavy to turn herself upright. The sheep has no hope without help. Sheep will die within a few hours if left unattended. Shortly after becoming “cast down” the sheep begins to lose the ability to breathe. The odd position she is in causes the air ways to become constricted and she will suffocate.
A woman will work hard for her family, church family, friends, neighbors, extended family and anyone else who is important to her; however, if put down, made fun of, treated in a disrespectful way, she can easily become “cast down.” For a woman, this is a very dangerous situation for her to be in and she will need the help of a friend she can trust, a church member, and/or if married, her husband to remind her of the value she holds in her family, church, and home. A wise husband will never say things to cause his wife to feel she is less than him. A wise husband will do everything in his power to protect the one he loves from finding herself “cast down” because he knows she is the weaker vessel, and he could lose the many ways she blesses him if no one comes to her rescue.
I think people are likened unto sheep in the scriptures for very positive reasons and I believe the Bible School I attended did a great service to both the young ladies and men when the staff reprimanded those who thought it was funny to refer to God’s most gentle creations as something of less value than she was created to be.
-Submitted By Patty Hollaway