The State of thy Flocks
1. The final five verses of this chapter speak about the same subject: the care and attention a farmer should give to his flocks.
2. While Solomon’s advice to shepherds may not directly speak to any of us, there is good application for all of us.
The Command (vs. 23)
A. The First Command
1. “Be thou diligent to know” is one word in the Hebrew. (yada)
a. It is a very common word (947 times in Old Testament). It is the normal word for “to know” someone or something.
b. It has other shades of meaning as well: To be acquainted with; to be aware; to understand; to consider; to be familiar with; to have a relationship with; to care for; to look after.
c. In Proverbs 27:23 it speaks of the shepherd’s responsibility to his flocks and herds.
i. The command is to pay attention to them; to take care of them; to be aware of their needs; to be familiar with their needs; know how to take care of them; understand them;
d. Thus, there are various translations of this term:
i. Darby: “Be well acquainted with…”
ii. ESV: “Know well…”
iii. NET: “Pay careful attention to…”
iv. NIV: “Be sure to know…”
2. “The state of thy flocks”
a. State: Literally, the term means “face.”
i. Often the term face is used to represent the whole person.
ii. Sometimes it speaks of the presence of the person.
B. The Second Command
1. “Look well to thy herds”
a. The verb “look” speaks of placing or setting something.
b. Here the idea is that of the shepherd setting his heart upon his flock.
c. He is to know them and to set his heart upon them.
d. This doesn’t mean that they are to be considered his beloved pets and that he should love them like Americans love their dogs.
e. Rather, it means in a more general way, that he is to set his heart on the well-being of his flocks and herds. That’s his job!
f. He is to be devoted and committed to their well-being. He’s in charge. He’s the shepherd.
2. The two commands taken together indicate that this shepherd is to know his flock (well acquainted with their needs for food; protection; water; pasture; etc.) and he is to be committed to their well-being (willing to do what it takes to keep them healthy and safe).
C. The Application
1. We don’t have (m)any shepherds here who tend to flocks of sheep and goats.
a. But there is great application here to other areas of responsibility.
b. Certainly this would apply to the pastor and the elders. We are shepherds. (I Pet. 5:2 – “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.”
c. A Sunday school teacher could apply these principles to their class.
d. The principles here would also apply to parents who are bringing up their “little flock” at home.
e. Those who have responsibilities at work too – in a sense, those who work under you are your little flock.
2. Whatever your little flock might be, be sure to know them.
a. Be acquainted with their needs. Know the details about how to care for them.
b. Like a good shepherd, be sure they are safe.
c. The better acquainted you are with the flock, the better supervisor you will be.
d. And be diligent to know them. Go the extra mile to find out what their needs are… what irritates them… what motivates them… what they need to excel.
e. And be committed to their well-being.
The Enduring Value of His Flocks (vs. 24-25)
1. The REASON a shepherd should care for his flock is that “riches are not forever… and the crown does not endure to every generation.”
a. Most people assume that wealth is measured in the amount of riches people have in banks; or perhaps people measure wealth in how many crowns or crown jewels the royal family has.
b. But Solomon’s point is that their wealth (as grand as it may seem) isn’t very secure.
c. Wealthy people lose their money all the time.
i. Prov. 23:5 – “for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”
ii. Jas. 1:10 – “But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”
d. “And doth the crown endure to every generation?” No! Kings come and go. The reign of some kings was very short lived.
e. In other words, the wealth of the richest nobles and even of kings is not as secure as one might think. It comes and it goes.
2. BUT—in contrast to how most people measure wealth, flocks of sheep and goats DO endure from generation to generation.
a. They have been around since Noah stepped out of the ark.
b. Kings and nobles spend their money and it’s gone.
c. In contrast, sheep and goats keep on multiplying!
d. The point is that the shepherd’s little flock is much more valuable and enduring than he might realize.
e. Could you imagine if money multiplied like rabbits or goats?
3. Therefore, Solomon’s advice is, take good care of your little flock.
a. It is far more valuable than you think!
b. If you take good care of your flock it might outlast the reign of the king and his nobles!
c. The effort and energy put into knowing and caring for your little flock pays off.
d. If you take good care of it, it could turn out to be a more valuable, practical, and enduring form of wealth than the wealthiest in the land!
4. Vs. 25 – And what a deal!
a. The kings and nobles found that running a government or a business is very expensive. They had many people to pay; many products to purchase to keep everything up and running. They had many people and departments under them that were a constant drain on their riches.
b. But the shepherd’s flock wasn’t a drain on his treasury.
c. He simply let his sheep roam on the hillside to for food and water.
d. The hay the shepherds needed to “pay their flocks” just appeared automatically out of the ground. God provided hay and herbs for the herds. It didn’t cost the shepherd a shekel.
e. BUT the shepherd must be diligent in his care for the flock.
i. The shepherd must be diligent to take advantage of the window of opportunity when the hay appears to feed his flock.
ii. The shepherd must redeem his time.
The Variety of Benefits from the Flock (vs. 26-27)
1. Consider what the lambs and goats provided for the shepherd.
a. Lambs’ (wool) is for clothing.
i. It provided enough for the shepherd and his family to be clothed.
ii. They could sell the extra for money.
b. The goats could be sold for money to buy or barter for fields… real estate.
c. The animals also provided milk and meat for the shepherd and his family. The extra could also be sold for profit.
2. If the shepherd was diligent in knowing his flock and their needs and committed to providing for the needs of his flock – his flock would provide for him—and his family—and his maidens.
a. You can’t eat or drink gold and silver. Nor can you wear it.
b. But the riches provided through the flock is much more practical.
c. It provides food, drink, clothing, and even shelter – tents made from the skins.
3. The application is obvious: Take good care of your little flock and it will take good care of you!
a. This applies to all of us in one way or another.
b. Prov. 28:19 – It applies equally well to the farmer as it does to the shepherd. “He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread.”
c. To the business owner: take good care of your employees and they will take good care of you.
d. To parents: take good care of your children, and one day they will take good care of you.
e. This applies to all kinds of things we own and are responsible for: Take good care of your house, your car, your lawnmower, etc… and normally, they will take good care of you.
f. We all have assets; if we take diligent care of them, they will take good care of us.
g. To the shepherd, his flock was his “business.” Whatever our “business” or our “affairs” in life may be, if we are diligent in caring for its needs—it will serve you well.
h. Diligent labor pays off; you reap what you sow. Diligence brings its rewards.
i. Prov. 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”
4. And perhaps another interesting application can be made.
a. Kings and nobles measure wealth in gold, riches, and crowns.
b. Real wealth comes from the natural world God has created.
c. Psalm 104:14 – “He (God) causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth.”
d. God sends the sunshine and rain that provides the grasses and herbs for the sheep and goats… so that they remain healthy and reproductive… and in turn provide food, clothing, and milk for the diligent shepherd… the real necessities of life!
e. God has done His part; we are to do our part and look well to our flocks!
f. Of course life is a lot more complicated today; but the true necessities in life haven’t changed.
g. And the main principle hasn’t changed either: God has given us all assets (physical, mental, monetary, etc.) and we are responsible to take care of them. If we are diligent – those assets will continue to be an asset and of great value to us and to others.