Shepherds False and True (4)
Pray Psalm 28.6, 7.
Blessed be the LORD,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
Sing Psalm 28.6, 7.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
Blessed be the Name of Jesus, for He will hear our prayer.
His strength protects and shields us with mercy and with care.
In You our heart rejoices; You help us by Your Word.
To You we raise our voices to praise and thank You, Lord.
Read and meditate on Jeremiah 23.1-8.
1. How does the Lord refer to the kings, prophets, and priests in verse 1? Why does He use that term?
2. What did God promise to do for His people?
Josiah was the last good king over the people of God in Judah. His son, Shallum (Jehoahaz), was exiled to Egypt, never to return to Jerusalem. Another son of Josiah, Jehoiakim, was installed as king in Shallum’s place. He was a puppet of Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. Nebuchandnezzar of Babylon overwhelmed him and made him his puppet. He died in rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. His son, Jehoiachin (Coniah), succeeded him to the throne of Judah. He lasted three months before Nebuchadnezzar captured him and took him to Babylon, where he died.
Nebuchadnezzar then appointed his uncle, Zedekiah, to reign in his place, as a puppet monarch to Babylon. It is to this Zedekiah Jeremiah has been rehearsing his history lesson. We have seen that Zedekiah’s fate will leave the people of God without an heir apparent to the throne; no king will take the throne of David when the people return from Babylon. The throne will be vacant for more than 500 years.
But God has not forgotten His promise. He will send “a Branch of righteousness,” a descendant of David (v. 5) to rule as King in judgment and righteousness, just as He had promised (Ps. 132). The coming King will bring with Him true shepherds – not like the priests, prophets, and rulers the people had known in Jeremiah’s day – and they will shepherd the people of God so that that “shall be fruitful and increase” (vv. 3, 4). God will return the remnant of His people to their land, and there He will bring the true Kingdom of David to light; and all the earth will know blessing when the King, Whose Name is “The LORD Our Righteousness,” comes to rule (vv. 5, 6).
In those days, there will be no more scattering of God’s people to strange lands. Instead, the King and His shepherds will gather God’s people “from all the countries where” He had driven and dispersed them, and they shall be one flock, one people, and one Kingdom in the salvation of the Lord (v. 6).
It’s not hard to see where Jeremiah is pointing here. In the short term, a return from Babylon under the governorship of Zerubbabel (a descendant of David) is indicated. But the ultimate hope of God’s people and of their salvation is in the coming King of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. He rules a Kingdom of judgment and righteousness which reaches to the ends of the earth and is administered by loving shepherds. His is a fruitful and prosperous Kingdom, where the good will and covenant promises of God abound.
1. What kind of Kingdom did Jesus bring with Him?
2. What is the role of Jesus’ shepherds in that Kingdom? What is our role?
3. How does this Kingdom increase and expand to bless all the world?
The church is the seed of Abraham. Jeremiah says, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘The Lord lives, who led the children of Israel from the north country and from every region where they had been driven.’ He will restore them to their own land which he gave to their ancestors,” so that we may know that he who “raises up from the stones children to Abraham” in the New Testament is he who will gather, according to the Old Testament, those who will be saved from all the nations. Irenaeus of Lyons (135-202), Against Heresies 5.34.1
King Jesus, shepherd me with Your love today, and help me also to…
Pray Psalm 28.1-5, 8, 9.
Pray for the Lord to grant you strength today, and to shepherd you in His love.
Sing Psalm 28.1-5, 8, 9.
Psalm 28.1-5, 8, 9 (Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
I cry to You, our Savior, O, be not deaf to me!
Lord, speak to me with favor, lest I should dying be.
Hear now my supplications when for Your help I cry.
Receive these, my oblations, before Your throne on high.
Lord, count me not among those who walk in sinful ways.
With words of peace their tongue glows while evil fills their days.
Your works they disregard, Lord, while evil fills their hands.
Destroy them by Your Word, Lord, and let them no more stand.
Our strength are You, O Savior, our strong defense and sure.
Anointed with Your favor, we rest in You secure.
Save us, and bless us, Jesus, upon us turn Your face.
With shepherd’s care, Lord, keep us forever in Your grace.
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).