NORMAN — One of the most recognizable passages in scripture is Proverbs 31. It is a beautiful text that reflects and expounds the virtues and characteristics of a wife and mother. It is commonly read and preached on Mother’s Day. It simply begins, “An excellent wife, who can find?” This excellent wife and mother is praised by her husband and her children. She fears the Lord and is worthy of praise.
As Father’s Day approaches, I have been searching the scriptures for a similar passage. I have yet to find the text that begins, “An excellent husband, who can find?” Yes, there are passages in the New Testament that talk about being a husband and a father, but nothing like the Proverbs 31 passage. So, I am left wondering and wanting to know what this excellent husband and father looks like.
Over these last days, however, I have been drawn to Psalm 23. This is the beautiful passage that describes The Good Shepherd. While it is often read at funerals and hospitals, it is certainly not a funeral dirge. And as we move into the New Testament, Jesus reveals in John 10 that “He is the Good Shepherd.” Jesus contrasts the Good Shepherd to the “thief” that comes to steal, kill and destroy. He contrasts the Good Shepherd to the “hired hand” that leaves and flees when danger comes, because he is “not concerned about the sheep.”
It seems that daily we are bombarded with images and stories of men acting more and more like “thieves” and “hired hands” in relationship to their wives and children. Instead, what if we set forth the Good Shepherd as the standard to which our husbands and fathers strived: “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. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Imagine how different our families (and communities) would be if each had the presence and nurture of a good shepherd. I see homes where there would be no want; homes where there would be no fighting and arguing.
I see fathers who would offer wise counsel and example to their children; husbands who would unconditionally love and sacrifice for their wives. Even in the midst of danger, unsettledness and death, these men would provide comfort and shelter. Their goodness and loving kindness would bring an overflowing sense of blessedness to the home. And like the virtuous wife and mother, this man would be worthy of praise.
As Father’s Day approaches, let us consider the Good Shepherd and give thanks to the good shepherds who have helped form and shape us.