The Modern Knight

principles | PURPOSE | perspective

Eyes on the Shepherd


An unusual painting to find hanging in a police chief’s office? Perhaps, but that is where I saw this. Because I know nothing about art, I thought it may have come from a starving artist sale, but came to find out it is “The Isle of Skye” a painting of some significance and available online. The painting perfectly captures the spirit of Col. Dave Grossman’s police officer/warrior parable, “On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs” with one significant addition…

There are sheep.
They are the vast majority who live at peace and are incapable of hurting each other except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are productive. The flock thrives when the sheep are protected, healthy and happy.

There are wolves.
They are predators that lurk unseen and feed on the sheep without mercy.

There are sheepdogs.
They resemble the wolf, with fangs and the capacity for violence.  The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. Although the sheepdog is incapable of hurting them (without being removed from the flock), he disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land.  The sheep would prefer the sheepdog did not tell him where to go, or hem him in (or write him a traffic ticket). The sheep would actually prefer a world without the sheepdog at all…until the wolf arrives.

Then there is the Shepherd.
The sheepdog is constantly looking toward Him. The sheepdog must not forget who really minds the flock. If he forgets where his authority comes from he will lose it, because the authority is not his own. Under authority the sheepdog is an extension of the shepherd to the benefit of the flock. Without a shepherd the sheepdog becomes the wolf.


Based on On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs by by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Thanks to Kent Williams for introducing me to the painting “Isle of Skye” by Richard Ansdell (1815-1855) – my copy is on the way.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:11 (NIV)

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