The last verse of Psalm 119 is piercing in its desperation: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” The lost person in this verse is not someone who has rejected or openly rebelled against God; rather, like a sheep, he simply strayed from the fold. Perhaps the sheep was tempted by greener pastures or distracted by something interesting, like a butterfly floating around him or an unfamiliar sound. The sheep, lost and alone, possibly cold and certainly afraid, helplessly bleats out into the dark night, hoping to be rescued by the shepherd. The situation is not hopeless! The story, while it begins in the Old Testament, finds its conclusion in the New Testament. Jesus once told a crowd of people that a shepherd who has a hundred sheep will “go after the [one] lost sheep until he finds it” (Luke 15:1-7). Jesus later confirmed that He is that shepherd: He came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). No matter how far the lost soul from Psalm 119 had strayed from God, we can be certain that God heard his cry and pursued him until He found him. Perhaps you find that you’ve drifted away from where you once were in your relationship with God. Rest assured that God loves you and that He desires to bring you back into the safety of the fold. Or, perhaps, you’re praying for a friend or a family member who has wandered away from the path of righteousness. Keep on praying! The Good Shepherd will never give up!
Otis A. Fortenberry