These two images — God as Mighty Warrior and God as Gentle Shepherd — must be held in balance.
If we picture God merely as the Mighty Warrior without the balancing image of the Gentle Shepherd, we might end up with the mistaken notion that God is an angry God, waiting to zap us the minute we step out of line. We’d probably edge into legalism and fault finding and we’d find ourselves a bit like Jonah, hoping God launches a “shock and awe” campaign against our enemies while we gloat in self-righteousness.
And if we picture God merely as the Gentle Shepherd without the balancing image of the Mighty Warrior, we might end up with the mistaken notion that God is a permissive God who laughs off our misbehavior like a doting grandfather. We’d probably edge toward permissiveness and leniency as in the case of King Saul, thinking God really doesn’t mean what He says.
But when you put these images together as Isaiah does here, you have a complete picture of our God. And this is intended to bring us comfort.
So which image of God do you need to behold today?
Do you need a Mighty Warrior to fight your battles? Do you need a defender? One who is strong when you are weak? Do you need a God who will fight for you?
This is our God. Behold Him today.
Do you need a Gentle Shepherd to hold you closely? Do you need a God of compassion and tenderness? One who will protect you when you feel vulnerable? Do you need a God who will shepherd your soul?
This, too, is our God. Behold Him today.
As it was in the day of Isaiah, let it be shouted from the mountaintops today as well. Behold, your God! He is the mighty God, the One who conquers our enemies and rules over all things. And this same god is the tender shepherd who gathers His sheep to Him and holds them closely. In His arms we find both strength and tenderness. Behold, your God!
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Lord who makes all things new, he who has ears, let him hear.