“The Lord is My Shepherd” : More than a Psalm

Sunday Afternoon Musings (finished on monday)

Ezekiel is one of the those books of the Bible that doesn’t get read very often and certainly not enough. Some of its images are so bizzare and its history so obscure, and its narrative so difficult to follow that most casual Bible readers are scared off by the task.

But there are riches in these 48 chapters that are worth all the effort to understand them. Here’s just one passage that I actually used today to illustrate a point in the message.

Orthodox_icon_of_Prophet_Ezekiel_largeEzekiel 34:11-31 (ESV)

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 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.13 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. 14 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. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 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.
17 “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 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? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 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.24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

The Lord‘s Covenant of Peace

25 “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.26 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. 27 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. 28 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. 29 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. 30 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. 31 And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.”

Some pointers to guide your study:

  1. Verse 23, David had been dead over 350 years before Ezekiel was born, so part of your study has to be what/who is being referred to in verse 23-24?
  2. God compares himself to a shepherd on a mission to find his straying sheep so that he can care for them. Part of your study will involve looking into the task of a shepherd so that you can understand the comparison.
  3. It might be helpful to compare a few translations of verse 16, or if you know Hebrew, to go back and study why the translators differ.
  4. Open up a second Bible to Psalm 23. See how many phrases from psalm 23 show up in Ezekiel in this passage. What might this suggest about the consistency of what God wants us to know about himself as a shepherd?
  5. Enjoy your study even while you bathe it in prayer and humility.

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