Hear this from Ezekiel 34:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?…You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.”
Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them:
“I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.”
(vv. 2, 4-5, 20a, 23-24, NIV)
Micah 5 prophesies this:
You, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.
(vv. 2, 4-5a, NIV)
Isaiah 40:9-11 says:
You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain…
lift up your voice with a shout…
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See the Sovereign LORD comes with power…
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. (NIV)
Sheep and shepherds were a fixture of daily life in biblical times. Everyone was familiar with them. Thus “shepherds” was a common figure of speech for leaders, from kings on down. These “shepherds” were to lead their flock to food and water. They were to provide protection for everyone and special care for those who needed it.
But not all shepherds took their jobs seriously. Ezekiel spoke of leaders who cared for themselves rather than the flock. The fed on the flock rather than feeding the flock. Through both Ezekiel and the prophet Micah, God said that He would not stand by while His flock was neglected. The unfaithful shepherds would be judged and struck down.
But He would not leave His people without a shepherd. Both prophets said that God would send a Greater Shepherd, His own Anointed One, Messiah, who would shepherd His people as Loving God desired. This Great Shepherd would be from the line of King David, who himself had been a shepherd.
In fact, says Micah, this Shepherd would come from David’s home town, Bethlehem. This tiny village, insignificant by human standards, would provide a second great leader, even greater than King David. God said this leader would come as God’s own agent, not man’s choice. His origins would be “from of old, from ancient times”; that is, He would be part of God’s timeless plan, working since before the foundation of the world. This Leader would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.” His power would not be limited by human weakness but would be the power and authority of Sovereign God Himself. God’s people would finally live in total security, and the King’s rule would reach “to the ends of the earth”.
This King would not simply bring peace. He Himself would be their peace. Over 700 years later the Apostle Paul would say the same of Jesus Christ:
He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14, NIV)
How appropriate that when Jesus came and was opposed by the false shepherds of His day, He characterized Himself this way:
I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11, NIV)
To our picture of the mighty Messiah King, the Shepherd King brings a personal flavor, a tenderness, an individual attention that all who know Jesus Christ will recognize immediately.
Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28, NIV)
Father, Jesus Christ is my shepherd.
His every word is love, and
His every path leads to You.