It was harvest time. Up on the distant hill, lights and color illuminated the darkness. The sound of laughter, revelry and songs of celebration echoed into the moonlit night. Wine was flowing like water, and the people danced and caroused with greater intensity as the night wore on. They seemed so happy.
On an opposite hill, the young shepherd sat alone, surrounded by sleeping sheep. He tended to the fire before him and leaned back against a rock. A small lamb was stretched out next to him sleeping. He gently laid his hand on her. She briefly awoke, looked up at him and then relaxed back into a deep sleep. It had been a harrowing day. The lion seemed to have come out of nowhere, snatching the lamb from her mother, and running off with her as quickly as he appeared – her little body clutched tightly in his jaws.
As soon as the lamb’s desperate bleating reached the shepherd’s ears, he was off in an instant, running to catch up with them. He ran quite a distance before he finally cornered the lion near an outcropping of rocks. The trapped lion dropped the lamb and paced back and forth before his prey, roaring and warning the shepherd not to come any nearer. To his surprise, however, the shepherd did not retreat, but rushed in fearlessly, slinging a stone and striking him down in an instant. The shepherd gathered the limp sheep in his arms and carried her back to the flock. He had bandaged her wounds and lay her down on his own blanket, close to the fire to keep her warm.
Her heart was no longer racing and her breathing was deep and even. She seemed to be pulling out of the shock, and save for a few scrapes and bruises, would probably make it. The shepherd scanned the horizon, aware of the possibility of another attack. The sheep were quietly sleeping. He bowed his head and thanked the Lord for delivering him once again. Out across the valley, the sound of song and laughter had given way to the occasional sound of cursing as the drunken revelers made their way home. Taking his scroll and pen from his knapsack, he began to write:
You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalms 4:7-8)