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"How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave ninety and nine, and go into the mountains, and seek that which is gone astray?" (Matthew 18:12 1599 Geneva Bible)
This article describes the scripture allusions for verse 2 of the children's hymn, "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us." In verse 2 the hymn teaches us that Jesus befriends us, guards our way, keeps watch over us, defends us from sin, and seeks us when we go astray.
In the first article in this series, Ref. 1, we learned about the background for the hymn text author, Dorothy A. Thrupp, and the hymn tune composer, William B. Bradbury. We also discussed the Biblical truths in verse 1 - that Jesus is our great Shepherd who leads us, cares for us, feeds us, and protects us. Jesus has redeemed us ("bought us"), and we belong to him (Ref. 1).
Consider. At what time or times in your life did Jesus seek you when you had gone astray? In what ways does Jesus guard you and defend you from sin?
Verse 2 for "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us"
"We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray."
-- Dorothy A. Thrupp (1779-1847, Ref. 2)
To see the lyric sheet for all four verses of "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" on one page, click here. The lyrics are provided by Timeless Truths (Ref. 3).
The Bible verses cited below are linked to the BibleGateway.com website and are quoted from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless noted otherwise (Ref. 4).
Scripture Allusions - Verse 2
"We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way"
This first line in verse 2 declares that we belong to Jesus, that he befriends us, and then asks Jesus to guard our way.
We are Thine. We now belong to Jesus because he has redeemed us. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus about "our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:13-14 NASB). This phrase, "We are Thine," continues the theme of redemption that the author stated at the end of verse 1 (Ref. 1, Ref. 3).
Thou dost befriend us. Not only has Jesus given his life in the past to show us that he is our friend (John 15:13), he also loves us and treats us with close personal affection now in the present (Ref. 5). Jesus told his disciples, and he tells us who believe in him and follow him now, "I have called you friends" (John 15:15). Because Jesus is our Friend and we are his friend we love him and we keep his commandments (John 14:15, John 15:14).
Be the Guardian of our way. In this phrase, we ask Jesus to be our spiritual "guard rails" and keep us on the right path. Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13, Ref. 6).
"Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray."
The three phrases in this line continue the image of the good Shepherd and what he does to protect his flock, his sheep. All three phrases are in prayer-like language.
Keep Thy flock. In the phrase, "keep Thy flock," we ask Jesus, our Shepherd, to guard and protect us with personal interest and vigilance (Ref. 7). We learn the meaning of "keep" from a famous verse about the birth of the Savior. "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). The Greek word in Luke 2:8 for keeping means guarding, protecting, and exercising unbroken vigilance (Ref. 7).
From sin defend us. Jesus defends us from sin through the word of God and the Holy Spirit whom he has sent to indwell those who believe in Christ. Jesus said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:16). David described the importance of memorizing and remembering scripture so he could apply it to guard himself from sin (Psalm 119:9-11). Jesus remembered and quoted scripture to defend himself from the devil when the devil tempted him (Matthew 4:1-11). The Apostle Paul instructed believers about the importance of the word of God coupled with truth and faith to "extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Seek us when we go astray. When we go astray (off course), Jesus will come looking for us. Jesus said, "How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave ninety and nine, and go into the mountains, and seek that which is gone astray?" (Matthew 18:12 1599 Geneva Bible). The Greek word for astray (used twice in this verse) means "get off-course; to deviate from the correct path (circuit, course), roaming into error, wandering; (passive) be misled" (Ref. 8). Note the interesting parallel in Genesis when the Lord God came walking in the garden seeking Adam and Eve after they had sinned (Genesis 3:8-9).
"Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray." (Phrase repeated)
The hymn text reminds us to pray in child-like trust to our Savior who protects us, defends us, and seeks us when we go astray. The request to God, "Hear my prayer," is common in the Psalms. David prayed, "O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth" (Psalm 54:2). "Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy!" (Psalm 143:1).
John the disciple of Jesus wrote to believers in Christ, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us" (1 John 5:13-14, italics added).
Listen and Sing Along
Click on this YouTube link - Solo piano meditation on the hymn "Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us" with sing-along lyrics. Recorded by Rick Betts - March, 2011.
Thank you, Jesus, for seeking us and finding us when we have gone astray. Thank you, Good Shepherd, for leading us and guarding us in the way that leads to eternal life (John 10:27-28).
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" (John 14:6)
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). This lesson explains the "I am the life" portion of this verse. I encourage you to read first the two predecessor lessons which explain the "I am the way" and "I am the truth" portions of this verse. Here are the links:
"Jesus is the Way to Heaven" (Ref. 1)
"Jesus is the Truth" (Ref. 2)
The About the Way page also teaches about the Way of God in the Old Testament and the Way in the New Testament.
Consider. What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ said "I am the life"?
Jesus is the Creator and Source of Life. Jesus Christ is the source or fountain of all life. Scripture tells us "For by Him all things were created" and "All things have been created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). John writes, "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3).
The Greek word for life is zóé, which means both physical (present) and spiritual (particularly future) existence (Ref. 3). Life always comes from and is sustained by God.
"Life" here has no limitation, and includes life of the body, the life of the soul, the life of the spirit, life in the present, and life in the future (Ref. 4).
Life is through Christ rather than the Law. Jesus' Jewish listeners were familiar with the law given through Moses. Yes. God gave the law (Exodus 20:1-17, Exodus 24:12). Yes. God instructed the Israelites to obey the law (Deuteronomy 30:15-18). However, the law itself did not impart life. Only Jesus can impart life. I suggest that this point is central to what Jesus meant when he said "I am the life."
The Apostle Paul emphasizes faith in Christ versus the inability of the law to impart life. "If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21). "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law" (Galatians 3:21). "The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24, italics added).
Jesus is the Key to Blessed Life. Jesus spoke about the sheep under his care, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they [believers] may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, brackets added). The Greek word for abundantly in this verse is perissos, which means all-around and going beyond the expected limit (more than enough) (Ref. 5). As believers in Christ, Jesus cares for us and meets our needs. David, the Psalmist, captured this truth when he wrote, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake" (Psalm 23:1-3).
Jesus is the Giver of Eternal Life. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28, italics added).
The Greek word for eternal in eternal life is aiónios, which means unending, and age-long (Strong's Concordance - Ref. 6). Aiónios includes the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting (Ref. 6). "Aiónios does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the age it relates to. Thus, believers live in eternal life right now, experiencing this quality of God's life now as a present possession" (Helps Word-studies - Ref. 6, Ref. 7).
Jesus Christ is the life. Jesus imparts life that the law cannot impart. Jesus is the key to a blessed life. To those who believe in him, Jesus gives eternal life - the quality of life which begins now and continues into eternity after our physical death. Thanks be to God for Jesus who is our life!
Apply. Take time now to thank God for the life that he gives you through his Son, Jesus Christ.
(Ellicott's Commentary on John 1:4)
"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." (Psalm 27:11)
Today's lesson explores the Bible verses behind the excellent hymn, "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord."
Hymn Author and Composer
Benjamin Mansell Ramsey wrote the text for "Teach Me Thy Word, O Lord" based on Psalm 27:11 and several additional Scripture verses. Mr. Ramsey also composed the tune, "Camacha," which we use today when singing this hymn.
Benjamin Mansell Ramsey (1849 - 1923) was an English organist and amateur composer (Ref. 1). He also was a well-known music teacher near Bournemouth, England. Mr. Ramsey composed songs, piano pieces, and carols. He also wrote works on music theory (Ref. 2).
Wikipedia reports that Mr. Ramsey also conducted an amateur orchestra in the 1880s, and was involved in establishing the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra in 1893 (Ref. 1). He is best known for his hymn tune, "Camacha," and the text he wrote for "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" in 1919.
For those of you who are interested in geography, Bournemouth is located on the south coast of England (see map, Ref. 3).
I suggest that you refer to the attached hymn sheet music for the following discussion of the Scripture verses and the hymn text (Ref. 4).
"Teach me Thy way." Mr. Ramsey skillfully wrote this hymn around the Biblical phrase, "Teach me Thy way." He included the phrase, "Teach me Thy way," 13 times in verses one through four. In the Old Testament, the Way of the Lord referred to keeping God's commandments (Deuteronomy 5:33, Ref. 5). In Joseph Benson's Commentary, the phrase "Teach me Thy way, O Lord" means "What course I shall take to please thee, and to discharge my duty, and to save myself from ruin" (Ref. 6). David, the Psalmist, asked God to teach him God's way in Psalm 27:11 and Psalm 86:11. Psalm 25:4-5 is similar. David’s request to God, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord," is an excellent example for us to follow (Ref. 5).
"Thy guiding grace afford" (hymn, verse 1). These words call to my mind Jesus' promise in John 16:13, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." Jesus promised us as believers that the Holy Spirit will guide us. The Greek word for guide in John 16:13 is hodégeó, which literally means "to show the way" (Ref. 7, Ref. 8). Now we can see the close connection between the prayerful hymn words in verse 1, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord" and "Thy guiding grace afford." As believers in Christ, we need the Holy Spirit's guidance to teach us God's way and truth in each of our life's circumstances.
"Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight" (hymn, verse 1). This hymn phrase likely refers to Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
"Make Thou my pathway plain" (hymn, verse 3). Psalm 27:11 begins with the words, "Teach me thy way, O Lord" and ends with the words, "and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies" (KJV translation). The transliteration of the Hebrew word for plain is mishor (Ref. 9). In Psalm 27:11, mishor means literally a level place (free from obstacles) and figuratively, a place of safety, comfort, prosperity (Ref. 9). In the literal sense, a plain is a level area or plateau as compared to a mountainous area, for example, 1 Kings 20:22-25. In the figurative sense, David's prayer to make his pathway plain (Psalm 27:11) was to request that God would make his way safe (Ref. 10).
Mr. Ramsey wrote in verse 3 of the hymn, "Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil, and pain; Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!" With these words, we pray that God will make our way safe and that God will comfort us through these difficult times.
"Until the race is won" and "Until the crown is won" (hymn, verse 4). Mr. Ramsey likely drew inspiration from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 which alludes to both of these phrases. "Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away."
Let us resolve to run the race with endurance that God has given us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Listen. I suggest that you listen to one or both of the following Youtube videos to hear examples of how the hymn can be sung.
Traditional hymn in 3/4 time - The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London congregation singing "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" - Click here.
This contemporary, 4/4 time solo arrangement of "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" in 4/4 time will uplift you. Click here.
Apply. In what aspect of your life today do you need God to remove obstacles and to make your pathway plain or safe? Pray and ask God to teach you his way and to give you his guidance.
Copyright: leonidtit / 123RF Stock Photo
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
This article is the fifth and final article in the series on the topic, “About the Way.”
Consider. The eternal Jesus Christ is the road, the path, the journey to the Father, and to the Father's dwelling place, heaven.
Immediately before Jesus said "I am the way" (John 14:6), Jesus told his disciples, "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).
Jesus is eternal. Jesus Christ is the same "I AM" that appeared to Moses in the burning bush (John 8:58; Exodus 3:6; Exodus 3:14).
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus is the way. Jesus invites us to follow him to the destination. Jesus is the road, and the journey to the destination.
The Greek word for "follow" is akoloutheó. Akoloutheó means to be in the same way with, that is, to accompany as a disciple (Ref. 1).
The rich young ruler asked Jesus what he could do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17). Mark 10:21 describes Jesus' invitation to the young man to follow Jesus. "Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, 'One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' " The young man refused Jesus' invitation to accompany Jesus as a disciple. Mark tells us the young man "was saddened, and he went away grieving" (Mark 10:22).
Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, to the Father's dwelling place, heaven. Jesus is the only way to the Father because only Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin.
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, ... let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22).
"But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
"Unless you believe that I AM, you’ll die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo
Our Response to Jesus
What is your response to Jesus? Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). Are you ready to believe in him? Are you willing to follow Jesus to our heavenly destination?
If you do not already trust in Jesus, then I encourage you to pray through these steps in your own words.
Believe in Jesus.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).
"Teach me your ways, O Lord; make them known to me. Teach me to live according to your truth, for you are my God, who saves me. I always trust in you" (Psalm 25:4-5).
Now that you have put your trust in Jesus, I encourage you to:
To learn more about the following topics, please visit the About the Way page or the previous posts with dates noted:
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
This article is the fourth in a series on the topic, “About the Way.”
Consider. In the Old Testament, the scriptures describe God’s way as keeping God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 5:1-21; Deuteronomy 8:6; Psalm 119:1-3.
The New Testament builds upon the description of God’s Way in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the main Greek word for "way" is hodos (Ref. 1). The following paragraphs describe the meaning of "way" (hodos) in the New Testament.
A “way” is a traveled road. Matthew 2:12; Acts 8:26; Acts 26:13. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus taught a challenging truth. The way (road) that leads to life is narrow, and there are few who find it. The Greek word for life in this verse is zoe, which means the blessing of real life after the resurrection (John 11:25, Ref. 2).
A “way” is a journey. In Acts 8:39, the Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing after Philip led him to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:30-37).
A "way" is a manner of thinking, feeling, or deciding. Acts 18:24-25 describe the teaching and speaking ministry of Apollos, who was instructed in the way of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. Acts 18:26 tells us, "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." (italics added)
In Acts 16:16-18, Paul and Silas were near Philippi when they encountered a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. Acts 16:17 tells us the slave girl's remarkable statement. "She followed Paul and us, crying out, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.' ” (italics added)
The name for Christianity in the early church. Many believers today may not know that in the Book of Acts "The Way" was the most widely known name for the early Christian church. The first use in Acts of the name, "The Way," occurs in Acts 9:1-2. "Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."
Acts 19:8-9 describe how the Apostle Paul in Ephesus moved the disciples to another location when "hardened and disobedient" people spoke evil about the Way. Acts 19:23 says "About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way." The disturbance about the Way led to the near-riot in Ephesus described in Acts 19:23-41.
Later, when Paul was brought under Roman custody to Caesarea, he testified before Felix, the governor. When Paul was given the opportunity to speak at the hearing, he said, "This I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets" (Acts 24:14).
In comparison to "The Way," which is mentioned several times in Acts, the term, "Christian" is mentioned only three times in the entire New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).
Apply. Are you living on the narrow path that leads to real life beyond the resurrection? Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
To learn more about the following topics, please visit the About the Way page or the previous posts with dates noted:
"You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess" (Deuteronomy 5:33).
This article is the third in a series on the topic, “About the Way.”
Consider. Jesus said “I am the way” (John 14:6). The "way of the Lord" was a concept familiar to Jesus' Jewish listeners. Consider these principles from the Old Testament.
God instructed the Israelites to keep God's commandments by walking in his way. Deuteronomy 5:33
What was the way that God had commanded? Please read through the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-21).
Consider the three-fold blessing God promises for the nations and people who keep his commandments – “that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land which you shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:33).
God went before the Israelites to show them the way. Exodus 13:21
Knowing God and God's ways are key to experiencing God's favor. Exodus 33:13
God instructed the Israelites to make God's way known among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2
God instructed parents to teach their children the way of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6
David asked God to "Teach me Thy way, O Lord." “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies” (Psalm 27:11). “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4).
David’s request to God, “Teach me Thy way, O Lord,” is an excellent example for us to follow.
Listen. I suggest that you listen to Don Moen's music video, "Trust and Obey." You will be blessed.
Apply. Are you walking in the way of the Lord? Are you obeying God's commandments? Deuteronomy 5:1-21
To learn more about the following topics, please visit the About the Way page or the previous posts with dates noted:
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"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." -- Jesus speaking in John 14:6
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