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The Sheep of His Hand: Reflections on the Psalms from the 21st Century Shepherd

Monarch Books, 2009
RRP: $22.95

Reviewed by Rosemary Wycherley who owns a cattle farm in Esk and is an elder in her local Uniting Church .

This gem of a book takes the reader on a journey into the world of the modern day shepherd, exploring David’s Psalms and drawing eye-opening parallels with God’s role as the shepherd.

The Sheep of His Hand brings to life the ancient traditions of minding a flock of wilful, longing sheep and provides the reader with a deeper understanding of what it means to walk with God and, more importantly, how to follow him.

Ms Davenport Tietjen poses a simple question.

She writes: “The Shepherd Psalm resonates with our hearts, but we remain strangers to the rhythms of the pastures, the habit of the sheep and how they perceive the world. God says we are his sheep. David’s generation got the meaning. Do we?”

The answer is steadily revealed as she relates everyday events on her sheep farm.

Some are joyful, others heartbreaking, but each provides a powerful insight into what it must mean for God leading his flock of errant Christians.

Each chapter is expertly crafted to capture a characteristic of her sheep in relation to those in God’s flock.

The author explores different facets of a Christian’s struggle with faith and shows how the Psalms shape Christian understanding of the relationship with God.

Each chapter ends with lines from a Psalm, some words of wisdom and a prayer.

As Ms Davenport Tietjen lovingly supports her flock, she acknowledges the frailty and dependence of her sheep, just as God accepts and forgives the fragility of his sheep and their infinite failings.

Christians need look no further than real sheep to better understand how to simply follow.

Readers can be sure that by the end of The Sheep of His Hand they will not only feel fully equipped to manage a sheep farm, but also have a deeper appreciation of their relationship with God.