Shepherds False and True (2)
I said to the LORD: “You are my God;
Hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation,
You have covered my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked;
Do not further his wicked scheme,
Lest they be exalted.”
Sing Psalm 140.6-8.
(Old Rockingham: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
You are my God, O God, my Lord!
Give ear, show mercy to my pleas!
Salvation grant by Your strong Word;
grant not their wicked, evil schemes.
Read and meditate on Jeremiah 22.11-17.
1. Read 2 Kings 23.31-33. What happened to Shallum (Jehoahaz)? Why?
2. How did Shallum’s father, Josiah, show that he truly knew the Lord?
We recall from Jeremiah 1.1-3 that our prophet’s ministry began during the days of King Josiah and lasted through to the last days of Zedekiah. Josiah made a sincere effort to serve the Lord and set the nation on a proper path (vv. 15, 16; cf.. 2 Kgs. 22, 23). He knew the Lord and wanted to do whatever God’s Law required.
Josiah’s son Shallum – or Jehoahaz – rebelled against his father’s policies and practices, and sought only comfort, unrighteousness, and self-indulgence (vv. 13, 14, 17). For his wickedness, he was taken captive by the Pharaoh of Egypt, after only three months on the throne. He never returned to Judah again (v. 11).
Jeremiah here recalled God’s Word to Shallum through the prophet, to jog Zedekiah’s memory of how he came to be king in the first place. Shallum thought only about himself, whereas Josiah sought the wellbeing of the nation. The implied question is: Zedekiah, which of these examples will you follow?
The history of the Christian movement offers abundant opportunities for us to learn how to follow the Lord – what to believe, how to conduct our lives, how to carry out our mission. We are truly shallow (like Shallum) if we measure our faith by outward things – numbers, nice facilities, and the like. What God is looking for is “justice and righteousness” (v. 15). We can learn much about these from our forebears in the faith, if we are willing to consider the lessons of our history.
1. How do people in our day determine the health of a local church?
2. What does it mean to “know” the Lord? How can you tell if a congregation truly knows the Lord?
3. What can you do to encourage your fellow believers to grow in knowing the Lord (2 Pt. 3.18)?
“Inquire the cause, and you will find it to be this ― he faithfully discharged his duties, for he executed judgment and justice. As, then, thou seest that the equity and moderation which thy father had practiced, was the cause of his happy life, why dost not thou also imitate him?" John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 22.15, 16
Help me to follow the example of Josiah and other faithful believers, Lord, as I…
Pray Psalm 140.1-5, 12, 13.
Give thanks to the Lord for His abundant lovingkindness. Commit to serving Him according to His Word.
Sing Psalm 140.1-5, 12, 13.
Psalm 140.1-5, 12, 13 (Old Rockingham: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
From evil, violent men, I pray,
deliver me, preserve me, Lord!
Their hearts they bend to evil ways,
and serpent’s venom is their word.
Guard me, O Lord, from wicked hands,
from violent men preserve my life!
They sow my path with wicked plans,
with nets and snares and cords of strife.
The Lord, I know, my cause shall take,
and justice for me surely do;
The righteous will thanksgiving make,
the upright e’er shall dwell with You.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).