Guidance for the sheep. The Eastern shepherd never drives his sheep as does the Western shepherd. He always leads them, often going before them. "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them" (John 10:4). This does not mean that the shepherd is always in front of his sheep. Although he may be usually in that position when traveling, he often walks by their side, and sometimes follows behind, especially if the flock is headed for the fold in the evening. From the rear he can gather any stragglers, and protect such from a sly attack from a wild animal. If the flock is a large one, the shepherd will be in front, and a heifer will follow behind.23
Isaiah speaks of the omnipresent LORD in a double relationship to His people: "For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the GOD of Israel will be your rereward [rear guard]" (Isaiah 52:12).
The skill of the shepherd, and personal relationship to them is clearly seen when he guides his sheep along narrow paths. The Shepherd Psalm says: "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness" (Psalm 23:3). The grain fields are seldom fenced or hedged in Bible lands, and sometimes only a narrow path runs between the pasture and these fields. The sheep are forbidden to eat in the fields where crops are growing. Thus in guiding the sheep along such a path, the shepherd must not allow any of the animals to get into the forbidden area, because if he does, he must pay damages to the owner of the grain. One Syrian shepherd has been known to guide a flock of one hundred fifty sheep without any help, along such a narrow path for quite a distance, without letting a single sheep go where he was not allowed to go.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]