Do you know any shepherds? No? If you lived in Israel in Bible times, you’d see shepherds and sheep all the time.
Sheep were important animals to God’s people in the Bible. People raised sheep for wool, meat, and milk, and used their skins to make parchment to write on. Sheep were also used as sacrifices to remind God’s people that one day Jesus would give his life to make us right with God.
Sheep were important, but they weren’t good at taking care of themselves. They needed a shepherd to keep them healthy and safe. Maybe that’s why the Bible compares US to sheep so often. We’re not always good at taking care of ourselves either. We need Jesus, our Good Shepherd, to guide us.
Read on for more fun facts about sheep!
The Sheep Psalm
Psalm 23, one of the most well-known Bible passages, was written by King David, who was a shepherd when he was a boy. By comparing us to sheep and God to a shepherd, this psalm shows how well God cares for us.
Read Psalm 23, then check out the sheep behavior facts below. Behind each fact, write the verse or verses from Psalm 23 that relate to that sheep fact.
Sheep won’t lie down unless they feel completely safe and comfortable.
Sheep are scared of lots of things.
Sheep will never eat when a predator or enemy is close. They’d rather run!
Shepherds in Bible times rubbed olive oil on sheep’s cuts and scratches to help them heal.
Sheep depend on their shepherd to help them find good food and water and to protect them from predators.
In Bible times, shepherds used a “rod” to fight off predators and a “staff” to rescue sheep.
Funny Sheep Facts
Sheep don’t have top teeth—they have thick gums called a “dental pad.”
U.S. president Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep on the White House’s South Lawn to trim the grass. Their wool was also sold to raise money for the Red Cross during World War I.
The first sheep in North America may have been brought by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493.
Some of the most well-known Bible people were shepherds: Abel, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the prophet Amos, and King David all tended sheep.
A recent study showed that sheep can remember the faces of up to 50 other sheep for more than two years.
There are hundreds of breeds of sheep in the world! Find these 10 wild and crazy sheep in the word search below. (And try saying “sheep search” five times fast!)
Churra Dalesbred Faeroes Jacob Longwool
Merino Mouflon Racka Sardinian Zwartbles
C A D P Z Z J A P P C E N R L
Q S Y A D G H S Z V I T O A L
N B E Q L O O W G N O L L C V
H C U O B E A C A R E S F K N
V H J I R R S R R H V A U A M
U H W T T E R B H E M R O O F
U U E B Y U A Y R L F D M A F
K J L W H K Z F D E X I E D K
C E U C X P M F F K D N C K W
S Y B Z Y T C J Y B H I Z Y J
S Q I N U D X V A B D A T W I
N I F I J I Q O V T C Z N T O S
M E R I N O T O Y K O L H P F
A V K U N Y R O V S P B F U L
Z S N N C M A U B P A A B Q X
Q. Why was the sheep arrested on the freeway?
A. For doing an illegal ewe-turn.
Q. What do you get if you cross a sheep with a porcupine?
A. An animal that can knit its own sweaters.
Q. What do you get when your sheep studies karate?
A. A lamb chop.
To watch a video of a sheep getting a haircut, check out this link: www.tinyurl.com/yzw6qk2 (or search YouTube.com for “Sheep Shearing Made Simple”). Does it look like the sheep is having fun?
We are [God's] people, his well-tended sheep.
—Psalm 100:3, The Message
About the Author
Sandy Swartzentruber serves as the resource coordinator for Faith Formation Ministries and is a member of Sherman Street CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.