“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.” Isaiah 40:11
How soothing, in the hour of sorrow, or bereavement, or death — to have the countenance and sympathy of a tender earthly friend. Reader, these words tell you of One nearer, dearer, and tenderer still — the Friend that never fails — a tender God! By how many endearing epithets does Jesus exhibit the tenderness of His relation to His people. Does a shepherd watch tenderly over his flock? “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Does a father exercise fondest solicitude towards his children? “I will be a Father unto you.” Does a mother’s love exceed all other earthly types of affection. “As one whom his mother comforts — so will I comfort you.” Is the ‘apple of the eye’ (the pupil) the most sensitive part of the most delicate bodily organ? He guards His people “as the apple of His eye!”
When the Shepherd and Guardian of Souls finds the redeemed sinner, like a lost sheep, stumbling on the dark mountains — how tenderly He deals with him! There is no look of wrath — no word of upbraiding; in silent love “He lays him on His shoulders rejoicing!”
When Peter fell, Jesus did not unnecessarily wound him. He might have repeated often and again, the piercing look which brought the flood of penitential sorrow. But He gave that look only once; and when He reminded Peter of his threefold denial, it was by thrice repeating the gentlest of questions, “Do you love Me?”
Reader, are you mourning over the weakness of your faith; the coldness of your love; your manifold spiritual declensions? Fear not! He knows your frame! He will give ‘feeble faith’ tender dealing. He will “carry” in His arms those that are unable to walk, and will conduct the burdened ones through a path less rough and rugged than others.
When “the lion” or “the bear” comes, you may trust the true David, the tenderest of Shepherds! Are you suffering from outward trial? Confide in the tenderness of your God’s dealings with you. The strokes of His rod are gentle strokes — the needed discipline of a father yearning over his children, at the very moment he is chastising them. The gentlest earthly parent may speak a harsh word at times; it may be needlessly harsh. But not so with God. He may seem, like Joseph to his brethren, to speak roughly; but all the while there is love in His heart.
The ‘pruning knife’ will not be used unnecessarily — it will never cut too deeply! The ‘furnace’ will not burn more fiercely than is absolutely required — a tender God is seated by it, tempering the fury of its flames!
And what, believer, is the secret of all this tenderness? “There is a Man upon the Throne!” Jesus, the God-Man Mediator; combining with the might of Godhead — the tenderness of spotless humanity. Is your heart crushed with sorrow? So was His! Are your eyes dimmed with tears? So were His! “Jesus wept!” Bethany’s Chief Mourner still wears the Brother’s heart in glory. Others may be unable to enter into the depths of your trial — He can — He does!
With such a “tender God” caring for me, providing for me, watching my path by day, and guarding my couch by night, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!” Psalm 4:8