A RIGHTEOUS KING
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.
Submit yourself to Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords as you prepare your heart to hear from God today.
The judgment speeches against the wicked kings and false prophets in chapters 21–24 begin and end with Zedekiah,1 although he is missing from chapter 22. In today’s verses he is replaced by a new king with a name (‘righteous Branch’) that is a wordplay on his own name (‘the Lord my Righteousness’), implying that he had not lived up to that name. There are two metaphors at work: the kings are pictured as shepherds of God’s flock, something that endures today in our word ‘pastor’; and the future ideal king is pictured as a shoot sprouting out of the stump of a dead tree.
These verses conclude the speeches of chapter 22 by announcing judgment on the kings who had caused God’s people to be scattered (vs 1,2). Verses 3–8 announce a reversal of the exile in three sections.
First, God announces the regathering of his people and the appointment of new shepherds to care for his flock; then God announces the ‘righteous Branch’, sprouting out of the dead stump of David’s royal line. The section concludes by claiming that the significance of the Exodus from Egypt will be overshadowed by the significance of the return from exile.
Central to these verses is the announcement of the righteous Branch, ‘The Lord Our Righteous Savior’ (v 6). Jeremiah anticipated a righteous king caring for and protecting God’s people when they returned to their land from exile. From our New Testament perspective, we can identify the righteous Branch as Jesus the glorious King, ruling not just over the people of Judah but seated at God’s right hand, ruling the universe with the power and authority of God.2
Whether we are in a formal pastoral role or not, the Bible asks us to act as shepherds and encouragers. Think of someone you can encourage today.
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.
1 Jer 21:1,3,7; 24:8 2 Heb 1:1–4
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