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Gathering Unto The Shepherd
A "sheep fold" is an old English term for a protective enclosure for sheep (a "sheep cote" is sometimes used to refer to the same thing, although the "cote" also referred to the shelter, or "cottage," for the shepherd while tending the sheep in the fold). The fold wasn't merely a way to keep sheep penned; it could also be a very efficient means to keep the endless threat from "wolves" under control. Rather than expending much time and effort hunting all wolves (those that would be a threat and those that would not) in the open country, while leaving the sheep undefended, the sheep fold could serve as a convenient killing zone of the wolves that were drawn into the good shepherd's sights on his own turf (that is actually the primary purpose of The Battle of Armageddon i.e. "14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle ... 14:3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations" Zechariah 14:2-3).
With The Lord's help, David learned to be a powerful defender of Israel while he was a shepherd of his father's sheep.
"17:34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 17:35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 17:36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine [i.e. Goliath; see notes for 1 Samuel 17] shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 17:37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee." (1 Samuel 17:34-37 KJV)
"There shall be one fold and one shepherd"
The people of Israel were, for the most part, shepherds. The Israelites entered Egypt not only to escape a famine (caused by drought) for themselves, but also for their sheep i.e. "47:4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen" (Genesis 47:4 KJV).
"47:1 Then Joseph [see The Israelite Patriarchs - Joseph] came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of The Land Of Canaan; and, behold, they are in The Land Of Goshen. 47:2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. 47:3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. 47:4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen." (Genesis 47:1-4 KJV)
The Lord chose David "from the sheepfolds" not only as a prototype of the ultimate king of Israel (see Israelite Monarchy - The Messiah), but also as a prototype of the ultimate Good Shepherd of Israel (see the Fact Finder question below).
"78:70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: 78:71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. 78:72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." (Psalm 78:70-72 KJV)
Although Christ's "sheep" have been widely-scattered for a long time, upon His return He will gather His sheep (see Spiritual and Physical Gatherings) from all places where they may be found: "34:12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day" (Ezekiel 34:12 KJV).
"34:11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 34:12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.