“I Know My Sheep, and They Are Numbered” – 3 Nephi 18:31

The Hebrew word paqad (פְקַד) has multiple meanings. It means “to count” or “to number,” and the word appears many times in conjunction with the Israelite census recorded in the Book of Numbers. It also means “to visit” or “to attend to.” After promising Abraham that his wife Sarah would bear a son, “the Lord visited Sarah as he had said” (Genesis 21:1). The word translated as “visited” in this passage is paqad. Years later, as Sarah’s great-grandson Joseph lay dying in Egypt, he prophesied to his brothers, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Genesis 50:24). The word translated “visit” in this passage, which other Bible translations render as “come to your aid” or “take care of you,” is also paqad.

So when the Savior promises that those who hearken to God will be “numbered among the house of Israel” (1 Nephi 14:1-2, 3 Nephi 16:13, 3 Nephi 21:6), He is making a personal commitment to look after them. And when He says, “I know my sheep, and they are numbered” (3 Nephi 18:31), He means not only that He is aware of them, but that He is committed to care for them.

When Potiphar saw that Joseph was a trustworthy servant, he made Joseph “overseer over his house” (Genesis 39:4-5). The word “overseer” in this passage is a form of the word paqad. Joseph was responsible to “number” Potiphar’s things—to be aware of them and to attend to them.

Today, I will remember that God “numbers” His people. I will strive to follow His example by being aware of and taking care of those people who I am responsible to serve.

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