Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Why Your Marriage Just Might Need the Help of a Shepherd

Do people still sing congregational hymns at weddings? I can’t recall the last time I was invited to stand, grab a hymnal or read from the program in order to sing a few verses of a hymn at a wedding. However, I do remember singing “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” at my own wedding.

In honor of our thirty-third anniversary, let’s look at the first verse:

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

“Sung words affect me in ways that said words do not,” said Barbara Brown Taylor, and I agree. Music has a way of carrying the truth into our bones.

The lyrics written in 1836 by Dorothy Ann Thrupp and sung at our wedding in 1990 expressed better than we could have ourselves our vivid awareness that we were taking on a project that required shepherding and guidance. We made strong promises to one another, knowing full well that we were not capable of so much goodness on our own.
But we wanted to be.

Our Marriage Needed a Shepherd

When Jesus identified himself as “the Good Shepherd,” he was speaking into a context of comprehension. His listeners knew the shepherd’s role and job description. However, in 2023, when most of us buy our meat wrapped in plastic, our clothing off the rack, and live miles from the nearest pasture, we’re a little vague about the role of shepherds–except at Christmas time when they show up in bathrobes and beach-towel head gear at the Nativity scene.

We came into our marriage knowing that we needed a shepherd, and even now that we’re thirty-three years into our journey as “heirs together of the grace of life,” we’re still looking to our Shepherd for his leading, his care, his feeding, and his partnership in this following life.

Thirty-three years ago, we made strong promises to one another, knowing full well that we were not capable of so much goodness on our own. But we wanted to be. Our marriage needed a shepherd.

Our Shepherd Leads Us

When there’s a big decision to make, when our grown children come to us looking for advice, we don’t want to be making it up as we go along. God’s wisdom comes to us through his Word, and the Spirit of God speaks to us as we faithfully seek him there.

Famous for her words of blunt truth, Elisabeth Elliot has galvanized my thinking on the importance of Scripture in living a faithful life: “If you say you want to be led by God but do not put yourself in regular contact with the only means through which he has promised to speak, you’re kidding yourself!”

Don’t kid yourself! Obedience to God and wisdom in conducting our most important earthly relationship is just too important to wing it! Are you allowing God to lead you in your marriage? Do you take time to come to the Word of God together?

Our Shepherd Cares for Us

Raising four sons in a fixer-upper home on one income has not always looked like green pastures or still waters! We’ve eaten a lot of budget meals and cut a lot of corners. Nonetheless, every true need has been met, and we’re convinced that God has been caring for us all along.

As we round the corner into our sixties, confidence in our Good Shepherd is crucial, because we know that health challenges are ahead of us. They’re coming for you, too. On a fallen planet, we can be sure that things won’t always go as we hope, and yet our hope is not resting on those “things,” is it?

Have you told God, your Shepherd, that you are willing to receive what he gives, to relinquish what he withholds, and to thank him for his loving care?

Our Shepherd Feeds Us

Psalm 23 outlines the Good Shepherd’s agenda for his flock, and his provision for us spiritually, even “in the presence of my enemies.” The same power that produced manna in the wilderness to feed a fledgling nation also equipped the widow of Zarephath to feed Elijah. Ezekiel 34 portrays God as the good shepherd who leads his sheep onto “good grazing land” and “rich pastures.”

Our heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air, and God the Son provided food for a multitude from a little boy’s lunch box. In a way that’s mysterious to our ears, Jesus invites us, his flock, to feed on his flesh, to “drink his blood,” and therein to find eternal life!

Are you trusting your Good Shepherd to meet your spiritual needs? Do you ever think about the “folds,” the safe home in heaven God has prepared for you? He’s the only reliable source of hope and peace, and our only hope of righteousness in this life!

Your Marriage Needs a Shepherd

Awareness of a Third Party, present in every room, a Witness to every conversation changes the way we speak, respond, and serve one another. If you feel lonely in your marriage, it could be that you’re expecting too much from a fellow, fallible human who can never meet all the needs you bring to the relationship.

You don’t need my words because God will hear yours, but here’s a prayer to guide you, to get you thinking about God as the Good Shepherd of your marriage:

Lord God,
Thank you for leading us. I offer up to you all my regrets, all my faithless striving. I accept your direction from now on.
Thank you for your tender care, for all the ways you provide, often meeting needs before we’ve even asked. I know that just as you have put food on our table and a roof over our heads, you are also able to provide wisdom, righteousness, spiritual power, holiness, and eternal life. Forgive me for looking for these things in other places, for putting my hope in things that were never designed to fill me up.
I offer up to you the gift of my husband and our marriage for your plans and purposes. I release my hold on him and my need to control every stray atom. I accept your will for us, for our family, and for our future together.
In the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid down his own life so that he could provide eternal life,

Awareness of a Third Party changes the way we relate to one another. If you feel lonely in your marriage, it could be that you’re expecting too much from a fallible human who can never meet all the needs you bring to the relationship.

Holding You in the Light,

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19 thoughts on “Why Your Marriage Just Might Need the Help of a Shepherd”

  1. We sang the same hymn at our wedding 47 years ago. And the soloist sang a piece from West Side Story. How scandalous in our very very conservative evangelical church!!



    1. Wow, great brides think alike!
      Chuckling over the scandal. Ours was the omission of the traditional “receiving line” between wedding and reception. My mother-in-law nearly swooned.


  2. Amen and Amen to your prayer Michele. Happy 33rd Anniversary. Oh my, how the Good Shepherd has worked with these two lambs at our house – it will be 40 years in August. I admit that my husband has a much better wife than he did 40 years ago – but the Good Shepherd has grown both of us up, grown our hearts and taught us how to love His way – and what a life changing-way it is!


    1. “A much better wife!”
      What a fantastic summary of 40 years of faithfulness. I pray that it’s true here at the 33 year mark. I know for sure that the Shepherd is still busily at work here with his rod and his staff.


  3. It is pretty rare for any of the church weddings around here to be full church services with hymns and communion anymore. I feel like almost all of them were like that when I was younger but now most churches let the bride and groom customize everything and most people opt to have a short ceremony. Weird that we’re so quick to get “that” part over with and head right to photos and the reception.


  4. Congratulations on your anniversary! I haven’t heard of that hymn before but I like the lyrics and your reflections on Jesus as our shepherd. I agree, music always makes something stick in my mind.


  5. Congratulations, Michele, on achieving the milestone of thirty-three years of marriage. It will be FIFTY-three for us this summer!! I praise God for his enablement to work through our differences, which still occur now and then, even after all this time! But, oh, how I appreciate shared faith, sharing the load of concerns, sharing the joys, and sharing the memories during all these years!


  6. Happy anniversary! I love the idea of singing “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead us,” at your wedding. I wish we had; however, we did do communion together. I look back those 47 years ago in wonder because I realize how we knew next to nothing but was so sure we were ready for anything.


  7. OMG! Congrats and happy anniversary to you both. That’s an almost impossible feat now. I pray me and the hubby could celebrate more milestones soon. With God as the third person in our marriage.


  8. Happy wedding aniversary Michele! Hubby & I have one coming up too!
    And thank you for this lovely reminder that Jesus is the Shepherd of our marriage & indeed I can say my husband is definitely a gift from God!
    Blessings sweet friend, Jennifer


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