Shepherds of Israel
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“Shepherds of Israel,” Friend, Mar. 1989, inside front cover

Shepherds of Israel

(Adapted from a general conference address. See Ensign, May 1988, pages 74–75.)

Some years ago, it was my privilege to visit Morocco. As part of that trip, the group I was with traveled at high speed in five of the king’s limousines across the beautiful Moroccan countryside to see some ruins in a distant desert. As we topped the brow of a hill, we noticed that the limousine in front of us had pulled off to the side of the road.

An old shepherd, attired in long, flowing robes similar to those worn in the Savior’s day, was standing near the limousine, talking with the driver. I noted a small flock of fifteen or twenty sheep nearby. The king’s vehicle had struck and injured one of them, and the driver was explaining to the shepherd the law of the land. Because the king’s vehicle had injured the old shepherd’s sheep, he was now entitled to one hundred times its value. However, under the same law, the injured sheep must be slain and the meat divided among the people. My interpreter hastily added, “but the old shepherd will not accept the money. They never do.”

Startled, I asked him why.

“It’s because of his love for each of his sheep,” he explained.

It was then that I noticed the old shepherd reach down, lift the injured lamb in his arms, and place it in the large pouch on the front of his robe. He kept stroking its head, repeating the same word over and over again. When I asked the meaning of the word, I was informed that “he was calling it by name. He is their shepherd, and good shepherds know each of their sheep by its name.”

There can be no greater example of a good shepherd than Jesus Christ. He knows each of us by name. He suffered for us because He wanted to provide a way for us to return to Him and to Heavenly Father. In return, we can be good shepherds by loving those around us, being good examples to them, and doing all that we can to help them return to Heavenly Father.