What Does The Bible Say About Sheep Walking In Circles

Bible readers might be surprised to see sheep walking in circles, or sometimes in lines or arcs. Such behaviour is observed among sheep around the world, from Australia to the United Kingdom. In traditional Christian thinking, the image of a sheep being led by a shepherd implies obedience and a willingness to be guided. But what does the Bible actually say about sheep walking in circles?

To answer this question, we need to go to the source. In the Bible, sheep are referred to in many texts, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. In the book of Numbers, for example, there is a passage about the Israelites and their journey in the wilderness: “The Lord bless you, O sheep of his pasture, and all your offspring, according to the blessing which he has granted you!” Here, the sheep are seen as being in the care of the Lord, and as a part of his flock, they are to be obedient to him.

In the New Testament, Jesus often used the metaphor of sheep to refer to his followers. In Matthew 18, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Here, Jesus depicts his followers as sheep that are bound to him, and as such, they are expected to obey his will.

From these passages and others, it becomes clear that the Bible generally paints a picture of sheep as obedient, humble, and willing to follow. While the Bible does not explicitly refer to sheep walking in circles, it does offer some insight into the importance of being humble, obedient, and following the path set out by the shepherd.

Social Significance

Sheep walking in circles seems like an unconventional behavior for animals. In fact, some researchers have argued that this behavior could be a form of social communication. According to this theory, it may be a way of communicating to other sheep in the herd that they should stay together and follow one another. Moreover, some research suggests that the presence of a shepherd can be calming for the sheep, as they instinctively know that it signifies safety and protection. This could explain why the presence of a shepherd can reduce the occurrence of sheep walking in circles.

It is also worth noting that the imagery of sheep walking in circles is often seen as symbolic of the importance of faith, fellowship, and obedience to the guidance of a leader. This symbolism is a recurring theme in the Bible, particularly in the books of the New Testament. By following the shepherd, believers are obediently striving towards spiritual unity and a greater connection to God.

Physical Significance

Sheep walking in circles can also be seen as a physical expression of the herd instinct. Inevitably, herds of animals tend to follow each other, and sheep are no different. When one sheep leads the way, the other sheep may simply follow the same path out of sheer instinct. This is known as phenomena of ‘least effort’, where the most energy efficient choice is chosen over the most efficient one – in this case, following one another in a straight line.

In addition to this, researchers have found that sheep may walk in circles for physical reasons as well. For example, some researchers have suggested that sheep walk in circles when they are heat stressed as a way of helping them to keep cool. Moreover, others have suggested that sheep may walk in circles when they are ill or in pain, as this behavior helps them to reduce the discomfort.

Evolutionary Significance

Studies have suggested that walking in circles has adaptive value. For example, some scientists have argued that sheep walking in circles might be advantageous in the wild as it helps ensure that a group of sheep can find sufficient food and water, and stay safe as they move in a group.

Another evolutionary explanation for why sheep might walk in circles is to gain a sense of direction. It has been observed that when a flock of sheep moves around in a circle, they are gradually able to gain a sense of direction in relation to their surroundings. This way, they are better able to navigate their way in the wild.

Spiritual Significance

For some, sheep walking in circles is seen as a spiritual practice that bears resemblance to a meditation. For example, some believe that if a person is willing to trust the Shepherd, then sheep walking in circles will symbolize that trust. Therefore, in this way, sheep walking in circles may be seen as a symbolic way of expressing faith or devotion.

Moreover, other spiritual practices include walking in circles during certain rituals, such as Native American Sun Dance ceremonies. In these rituals, people walk in a circle while holding hands and chanting. This practice is believed to bring power, peace and insight to those who partake in it. Given this, it seems that the concept of sheep walking in circles may have a deeper spiritual significance.


In conclusion, while the Bible does not explicitly refer to sheep walking in circles, it does offer a great deal of insight into the importance of being humble, obedient, and following the guidance of a shepherd. Moreover, researchers have argued that sheep walking in circles has several physical, evolutionary, and social significance, as well as spiritual significance for some. Therefore, the next time you see sheep walking in circles, take a moment to consider the deeper meaning of their behavior.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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