“He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Ps. 23:2a) Part 2
A second source of fear that a shepherd has to deal with is tension, rivalry, and cruel competition within the flock.
There exists within the animal kingdom an order of dominance or status. In a flock of chickens, we call it the “pecking order.” With cattle it is called the “horning order.” Among sheep we speak of the “butting order.”
In a pen full of chickens, I have witnessed roosters pecking away at hens until they were half dead. I’ve watched the pecking order of turkeys going to roost at night. The older birds get the first choice tree limbs while the younger birds wait on the ground for their turn. With big horn sheep, elk and moose the male butts against rival heads to gain dominance. Stallions will fight other stallions to gain control over the herd of mares. I’m sure other animal groups follow the same practices.
This is a graphic picture of the struggle for status in human society. In any business workplace whether large or small, the desire for self-assertion and self-recognition takes place. Individuals battle to be “top sheep.” We butt and quarrel and compete to “get ahead.” It even took place among the disciples at the “last supper.” “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” (Lk. 22:24)
Because of this rivalry, tension, jealousy, and competition for status and self-assertion, there is friction among the flock. The sheep cannot lie down and rest in contentment. They must stand up and defend their “rights.”
It was the shepherd’s presence that put an end to all rivalry. I have learned that keeping my eyes on my Master, the Shepherd, they are not on those around me. This is the place of peace and contentment.
Prayer: Dear Lord, as the Good Shepherd, you dispel all my fears.