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Verse 5. A stranger, &c. This was literally true of a flock. Accustomed to the voice and presence of a kind shepherd, they would not regard the command of a stranger. It is also true spiritually. Jesus by this indicates that the true people of God will not follow false teachers— those who are proud, haughty, and self-seeking, as were the Pharisees. Many may follow such, but humble and devoted Christians seek those who have the mild and self-denying spirit of their Master and Great Shepherd. It is also true in reference to those who are pastors in the churches. They have an influence which no stranger or wandering minister can have. A church learns to put confidence in a pastor; he knows the wants of his people, sees their danger, and can adapt his instructions to them. A stranger, however eloquent, pious, or learned, can have few of these commit the churches to the care of wandering strangers, of those who have no permanent relation to the church, than it would be for a flock to be committed to a foreigner who knew nothing of it, and who had no particular interest in it. The pastoral office is one of the wisest institutions of heaven. The following extract from The Land and the Book (Thomson) will show how strikingly this whole passage accords with what actually occurs at this day in Palestine:


"This is true to the letter. They are so tame

and so trained that they follow their keeper with the

utmost docility. He leads them forth from the fold, or

from their houses in the villages, just where he

pleases. As there are many flocks in such a place

as this, each one takes a different path, and it is his

business to find pasture for them. It is necessary,

therefore, that they should be taught to follow, and

not to stray away into the unfenced fields of corn

which lie so temptingly on either side. Any one that

thus wanders is sure to get into trouble. The shepherd

calls sharply from time to time to remind them of his

presence. They know his voice and follow on; but if a

stranger call, they stop short, lift up their heads

in alarm, and, if it is repeated, they turn and flee,

because they know not the voice of a stranger. This is

not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is simple fact.

I have made the experiment repeatedly. The shepherd goes

before, not merely to point out the way, but to see

that it is practicable and safe. He is armed in order

to defend his charge, and in this he is very courageous.

Many adventures with wild beasts occur not unlike that

recounted by David, and in these very mountains; for,

though there are now no lions here, there are wolves in

abundance; and leopards and panthers, exceedingly fierce,

prowl about these wild wadies. They not unfrequently

attack the flock in the very presence of the shepherd,

and he must be ready to do battle at a moment's warning.

I have listened with intense interest to their

graphic descriptions of downright and desperate fights

with these savage beasts. And when the thief and the

robber come (and come they do), the faithful shepherd

has often to put his life in his hand to defend his

flock. I have known more than one case in which he

had literally to lay it down in the contest. A poor

faithful fellow last spring, between Tiberias and Tabor,

instead of fleeing, actually fought three Bedouin robbers

until he was hacked to pieces with their khanjars, and

died among the sheep he was defending."


{g} "but will flee from him" 2 Ti 3:5; Re 2:2

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