Ezekiel 34 & Psalm 83-84

Ezekiel 34

    The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

    “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

    “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

    “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

    “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.

    “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.”

(Ezekiel 34 ESV)

Psalm 83

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

    O God, do not keep silence;
        do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
    For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
        those who hate you have raised their heads.
    They lay crafty plans against your people;
        they consult together against your treasured ones.
    They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
        let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”
    For they conspire with one accord;
        against you they make a covenant—
    the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
        Moab and the Hagrites,
    Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
        Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
    Asshur also has joined them;
        they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah
    Do to them as you did to Midian,
        as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
    who were destroyed at En-dor,
        who became dung for the ground.
    Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
        all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
    who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves
        of the pastures of God.”
    O my God, make them like whirling dust,
        like chaff before the wind.
    As fire consumes the forest,
        as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
    so may you pursue them with your tempest
        and terrify them with your hurricane!
    Fill their faces with shame,
        that they may seek your name, O LORD.
    Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
        let them perish in disgrace,
    that they may know that you alone,
        whose name is the LORD,
        are the Most High over all the earth.

(Psalm 83 ESV)

Psalm 84

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

    How lovely is your dwelling place,
        O LORD of hosts!
    My soul longs, yes, faints
        for the courts of the LORD;
    my heart and flesh sing for joy
        to the living God.
    Even the sparrow finds a home,
        and the swallow a nest for herself,
        where she may lay her young,
    at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
        my King and my God.
    Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
        ever singing your praise! Selah
    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
        in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
    As they go through the Valley of Baca
        they make it a place of springs;
        the early rain also covers it with pools.
    They go from strength to strength;
        each one appears before God in Zion.
    O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
        give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
    Behold our shield, O God;
        look on the face of your anointed!
    For a day in your courts is better
        than a thousand elsewhere.
    I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
        than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
    For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
        the LORD bestows favor and honor.
    No good thing does he withhold
        from those who walk uprightly.
    O LORD of hosts,
        blessed is the one who trusts in you!

(Psalm 84 ESV)

 The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series...

“SHEPHERD” WAS A COMMON METAPHOR for “king” in the ancient Near East, not least in the Old Testament (cf. Isa. 44:28; Jer. 10:21; 23:1-6; Mic. 5:4, 5; Zech. 11:4-17). The shepherd provided not only care and nurture for the sheep, but leadership, medical attention, and defense against foes. Doubtless it was an excel- lent metaphor to apply to hereditary monarchs who might be tempted to think of their calling in terms of power and privilege but not in terms of responsibility. Conversely, when David confesses that the Lord is his shepherd (Ps. 23:1), the metaphor includes the notion that God is king. The sheep pass under the rod (Ps. 23:4—the same word used for royal scepter).

The chapter (Ezek. 34) begins with a scathing denunciation of the shepherds who have been leading Israel (34:1-10). The charges are basically two. (a) They have been greedily fleecing the sheep, exploiting the flock to make themselves comfortable and rich, but they have not nurtured and cared for the sheep entrusted to them (34:2-4). (b) Far from protecting the sheep by keeping them in one flock, the conduct of the shepherds has led to the sheep being “scattered” (34:5-6)—a term that signals the exile. So what God will do is ensure that these false and dangerous shepherds will never have charge of the sheep again (34:7- 10). It is difficult not to detect in these lines the demise of the Davidic dynasty as then understood, along with the Levitical priesthood.

What God will put in their place is—himself. He will himself come to shep- herd his sheep. Read the moving lines from verse 16 on, and count the number of times God says “I will . . .” or “I myself will . . .” Not only will he protect the flock (34:10-16), he will also exercise judgment within the flock (34:17-22), for inevitably some sheep are corrupt or bullies. The flock will be purified not only of its greedy leadership but also of its wicked members, not least the “fat” sheep who butt the others away from plenty.

Suddenly the language changes. All along God has been declaring that he him- self will shepherd his flock. Now he says, “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shep- herd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken” (34:23-24). Indeed, the promised reformation will bring a transforming new covenant (34:25-31). This covenant will be effective (that is what “covenant of peace” suggests).

A transforming shepherd who is both Yahweh and someone in David’s line? Meditate on John 10.