Failed shepherds ∙

Failed shepherds

Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:25

Ezekiel 34:11-16

 11 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find my sheep.

 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.

 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live.

 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD.

 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes – provide them justice!

In the ancient world, the shepherd was a familiar image. The shepherd had to be ceaselessly and sleeplessly on the watch lest harm should come to his flock. The shepherd and his character are indispensable. At night, you find him sleepless, far-sighted, weather-beaten, armed, leaning upon his staff, and looking out over his sheep, every one of them on his heart. A shepherd personified self-sacrifice, diligence, and safety. But more than that, he embodied tenderness, caring, and a willingness to risk to protect those under his care (Barclay).

They were consummate caretakers. They had somewhat of an ironic social status. They were highly esteemed for what they did, but at the same time, they were extremely low on the social pecking order.

Samuel was told by the Father to go to Bethlehem to anoint the next king of Israel. The new king would be one of the sons of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:1). When he arrived in Bethlehem, Samuel spoke to the elders and invited them to a sacrifice and the feast that would follow. He requested that the house of Jesse also be included. But Jesse brought only seven of his eight sons.

They were all men of physical strength and stature. “So insignificant was David in the family that Jesse didn’t even call him from the flock to the feast!” (Wiersbe) Samuel carefully checked out each of Jesse’s seven sons that were present. But the Father indicated that none of them was his chosen king. David was busy watching over Jesse’s sheep.

The Father then gently chided Samuel for looking only at the outward appearance of Jesse’s sons, particularly Eliab.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The term translated as outward appearance in Hebrew is ayinim. It is the plural form of ayin. Ayin is literally eye. Thus this expression could be literally translated as “by the eyes.” It means “by what he sees”; compare “the outward appearance” (NRSV; NASB; NIV); “only what is visible” (JPS) (Tsumura). In other words, the Father is not primarily interested in superficial, material, visible appearances.

The Father is focused on something else. The Father sees the heart. A person’s heart is of far greater importance to Him. “In Hebrew thought, the heart designates the most inward part of a person, the center of one’s will and thoughts” (Omanson and Ellington).

David had something the rest of Jesse’s sons lacked. He had the heart of a shepherd.

Of all the sons of Jesse, David was least likely to be chosen by men to be the king of Israel. But the Father’s kingdom is nothing like the kingdoms of men.

Kings, leaders, and priests were also called “shepherds.” They were responsible for caring for the people, protecting them, and seeing that their needs were met.

In ancient Israel, many of their leaders were failed shepherds. They were selfish and abused and exploited their people because they thought only of themselves. They failed to care for the sheep and meet their needs. Whenever leaders take without providing something in return, they exploit others (Ezekiel 34:1-10).

Sadly, many of the children of the King have been, at times, led by failed shepherds in their lives.


We long to be cared for and protected, but alas, we have been abandoned or left to our own devices. Indeed, all we like sheep have gone astray.

Father thank You for being my Shepherd and caring for me. Thank You for seeking me out, finding me, scooping me up in Your loving arms, and carrying me home.


But now, we have a loving, caring heavenly Father who shepherds us. The Father intervenes to reverse, step by step, the hurtful destructive damage inflicted by the failed shepherds in our lives. The Father, like a skilled heart surgeon, meticulously goes to work to successfully reverse and transform the damage done. He seeks the scattered and lost, He gathers and feeds them, and provides security.

The word shepherd speaks most vividly of His ceaseless vigilance and the self-sacrificing love of the Father for us who are His flock. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3) (Barclay).

Isaiah 40:11 Like a shepherd, he tends his flock; he gathers up the lambs with his arm; he carries them close to his heart; he leads the ewes along.

Ezekiel 34:12-15

 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.

 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD.

Our great Shepherd has ended the dominion of failed shepherds over us once and for all. We have only to actualize it more and more each day. The Father is our shepherd, the guardian of our souls. In His love and compassion, He cares for us; with His unlimited power, He protects us; and in His wisdom, He guides us in light, truth, and goodness.

Where danger, fear, and dread have reigned supreme, our kind and gentle Shepherd now reigns instead. He individually attends to each of His sheep. He cares for us and provides us with a place of peace and security to dwell. He actively seeks the best outcome for each of His sheep.

We have an all-seeing, loving Father, watching tenderly over us so that He may nurture our spiritual growth and keep us from being overwhelmed by the trials and circumstances we face in this present evil age.

¯\_()_/¯ 9-08-2

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