“They Know His Voice”
“JEHOVAH is my Shepherd.” These are the opening words of Psalm 23. The Scriptures again compare Jehovah God to a shepherd in the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: “Like a shepherd he will shepherd his own drove. With his arm he will collect together the lambs; and in his bosom he will carry them. Those giving suck he will conduct with care.”—Isaiah 40:11.
Similarly, Jesus Christ is likened to a shepherd. He said: “I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.” (John 10:11) Jesus said that the “sheep listen to [the shepherd’s] voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” He added that “the sheep follow [the shepherd], because they know his voice. A stranger they will by no means follow but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”—John 10:2-5.
Both Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ, have lived up to the image portrayed in the foregoing scriptures. They treat their figurative sheep with tenderness and loving care. As a result, the sheeplike ones feel loved, secure, and protected.
This relationship is appropriately likened to that of literal sheep with their shepherd. Back in 1831, John Hartley wrote about his observations in this regard. He noted that in Greece it was customary for shepherds to give names to their sheep. When called by name, the sheep would respond to the voice of the shepherd. Some 51 years later, in 1882, J. L. Porter made similar observations. He personally witnessed shepherds “uttering . . . a shrill peculiar call” to which the sheep would respond by obediently following the shepherds. That same year William M. Thomson wrote about repeated experiments that established that sheep can be taught to follow their shepherd and to recognize his voice.
Has this unique relationship between shepherds and their sheep been observed in more recent times? Yes. In the September 1993 issue of National Geographic, Australian adventurer Robyn Davidson wrote the following about the Rabari pastoralists in northwest India: “Each shepherd has slightly different calls, variations on a theme. There are morning calls to move out, a call to bring the sheep to water, and so on. Each man knows his own sheep and vice versa, and his particular flock will disentangle itself from the larger flock and move out behind him in the morning.”
Undoubtedly, Jesus observed what has been described by the four travelers just mentioned. His own observations added reality to his illustration of the sheep knowing his voice. Are you one of Jesus’ sheep? Do you know his voice and listen to it? If you recognize and acknowledge his teachings as the truth and if you obey his commandments and follow his lead in worshiping Jehovah, then you can experience the loving and tender shepherding of Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ.—John 15:10.