A shepherd was a lonely and dirty job. The shepherd had to live with the sheep. He had to care for them every hour of the day, in every season and every kind of weather. A family that had sheep sent the lowest man in seniority to watch them. So the youngest son often got the job. This explains why David was out with the sheep when Samuel came to his father’s house looking to anoint the next king. And as it turns out, David was prepared to be king because he knew what it meant to be a shepherd. This is why he wrote this psalm. Jesus recognized this about himself too. “I am the good shepherd,” he says in John 10:11 and explains, “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
As it turns out, this is exactly what we need. We need a king, to be sure, else Lord of the Flies unfolds. But history has shown us that not just any king will do. Many kings have used their position to build their own wealth and power often at the expense of their subjects. So Jesus comes as a different kind of king. A king like David in that he was a shepherd king.