"THE SHEPHERD’S VOICE"
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (Jn. 10:27)
INTRO.: A song which talks about how the sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him is "The Shepherd’s Voice." The text was written and the tune was composed both by Robert Clifton Welch, who was born on Nov. 5, 1916, at Railton near Glasgow, KY. In 1963, he compiled, edited, and published a hymnbook, Abiding Hymns, which for many years was quite popular, especially among "conservative" churches of Christ, in the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps the best known of his own hymns is "O Father, Guide Me Here Below." His hymn for the Lord’s supper, "The Lord Came to Earth" also achieved some use. All of Robert’s published hymns were copyrighted in 1963 with his hymnbook. His death occurred in Indianapolis, IN, on June 18, 2003. Among other hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, none of his hymns have, unfortunately, appeared nor are any of them found today.
The song reminds us that Jesus is the good Shepherd who came to bring His sheep back to the fold of safety.
I. Stanza 1 identifies the need
"The sheep were all in the fold that night,
As the twilight came o’er the fields of light;
The Shepherd had counted ninety-nine,
But He said, ‘I must find this lamb of Mine."
A. The fold or flock represents the Lord’s church: Jn. 10:16
B. The ninety-nine represent the faithful who remain in the fold: Lk. 15:4
C. However, the need is that one has gone astray, so the Shepherd seeks to find it: Matt. 18:12
II. Stanza 2 identifies the Shepherd’s efforts
"He went through the mountains wild and bare,
Hoping soon to find the lamb wandering there;
His voice pierced the night in tones so clear
That the lamb might know of the Shepherd near."
A. The Shepherd’s going through the mountains wild and bare represent the lengths to which Jesus Christ went in fulfilling His mission: Phil. 2:5-7
B. The Shepherd’s aim in everything that He did was to find the wandering lambs, or in other words, to seek and save the lost: Lk. 19:10
C. Just as the shepherd’s voice would pierce the night, so the words of Jesus speak through His gospel to call us to come to Him: 2 Thess. 2:14
III. Stanza 3 identifies the lost lamb’s response
"At last he was found in depths of sin,
Steeped in evil ways, honest heart within;
He heard the voice call and answered then,
For he yearned to be in the field again."
A. In the parable, the Shepherd found the lost lamb: Lk. 15:5
B. The fact that the lamb was lost represents the fact that all responsible human beings at one time or another in their lives are lost
in sin: Rom. 3:23
C. In order to hear the voice of the Savior and be in the field again, we must an honest and good heart: Lk. 8:15
IV. Stanza 4 identifies the results
"He took the lost lamb and washed him white
Of the sin that stained, healed his wounds that night;
Poor sinner, the Lord seeks through the cold.
Will you heed the call, shelter in His fold?"
A. Again in the parable, because the lamb was willing, the Shepherd brought him home: Lk. 15:6
B. This represents the fact that Jesus Christ came to save sinners: 1 Tim. 1:15
C. However, in order for Him to bring us home, we must heed His call to come to Him: Matt. 11:28-30
CONCL.: The chorus reiterates that the Shepherd is calling us and we must come to Him.
"The Shepherd’s voice is calling;
The tones so sweet are falling.
He calls for sheep who’ve gone astray;
He seeks for thee, O come today."
The prophet Isaiah emphasized that all we like sheep have gone astray. However, God did not want anyone to perish so He sent His only Son to be a Shepherd who would make it possible by His death on the cross for anyone to be saved who wants to do so. However, the Lord has left the choice up to each individual. Therefore, every one of us should listen to "The Shepherd’s Voice."