SHEPHERDS AND KINGS
Lord God, thank you for your Word. Please use it to help me know and follow you better.
Read JEREMIAH 23:1-8
The Righteous Branch
23 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”
- Jeremiah 23:5 Or up from David’s line
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWould you prefer to live with shepherds or in the court of a king?
These verses focus on two ideas that are developed throughout the Scriptures: kingship and shepherding. Moses was a shepherd before he led Israel. David held both positions. And then, of course, shepherds were summoned to the crib to see the King of Kings. These days, we know broadly what the words king and shepherd mean, but we are oddities, perhaps at the end of history. We do not live with monarchs who—for better or worse—command absolute power over our lives. Nor do we locally depend on shepherds as skilled but humble guardians of the flocks we need for survival. Any child in either ancient Israel or medieval England reading this ac- count would say, ‘Oh yes. Right.’ Our own experience is more likely to be of bureaucracies and supermarkets, but the ancient imagery remains powerful and true.
Here, Jeremiah wants us to grasp the essence of both shepherding and kingship so that we can see something of the nature of God himself. The Lord is the ultimate Shepherd. His desire is to gather us, care for us, and see us prosper. He embodies true kingship: he is righteous, wise, and just (v 5). Ultimately, this is a prophecy about Jesus himself. The Shepherd King will not only be for the original Israelites, but for all of us.
Verse 4 promises shepherds to tend God’s sheep. Reflect on the meaning of that special word, tend.
Jesus, Shepherd and King, I confess that there are times when I do not follow and obey you as I know I should. Thank you for your grace and mercy that convicts me, calls me to repentance, and offers me forgiveness.
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