As magnificent as the Annunciation to the Shepherds was, it also sparked questions about why the shepherds heard it first, instead of all the powerful kings and nobles. Many scholars stated that shepherds were the outcasts, Lower social class and uneducated. The real question, though, was whether it reflects an accurate portrayal of the shepherds in the Old and the New Testaments.
In the Old Testament, we see clear descriptions of Abraham, Moses, and David as shepherds. Genesis 13 mentions the livestock and flocks of sheep owned by Abraham. Moses and David also spent a substantial part of their youth helping their fathers with the flocks, as described in Exodus 3:1 and Samuel 1:17 respectively.
More importantly, the Old Testament depicts God as a shepherd on many occasions, including the famous verse from Ps 23:1,
Ezekiel 34:12 quotes God as follows: “As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day”, which clearly indicates God’s mission to gather all the people under one roof.
In the New Testament, there are several connections between Jesus and shepherding. The most famous passage is John 10, where he describes himself as “the good shepherd”. Also, Matthew 2:6 foreshadows the motivation of Jesus as follows: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd my people in Israel”. There are many other verses in the New Testament associating not only Jesus but also church leaders with the act of shepherding.
An alternative interpretation came in Magnificat, the Song of Mary, in which she stated, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” (Luke 1:52). Even if the shepherds were at the bottom of the social ladder in early Jewish communities, the Annunciation was a substantial manifestation of shepherds (the humble ones) being glorified.