Prophecy against the Shepherds of Israel
34 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them, the [spiritual] shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe (judgment is coming) to the [spiritual] shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat [the choicest of meat], and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the best of the livestock, but you do not feed the flock. 4 You have not strengthened those who are weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bandaged the crippled, you have not brought back those gone astray, you have not looked for the lost; but you have ruled them with force and violence. 5 They were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the predators of the field. 6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the face of the earth and no one searched or sought them.”’”(A)
7 Therefore, you [spiritual] shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “certainly because My flock has become prey, My flock has even become food for every predator of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; 9 therefore, you [spiritual] shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My flock from them and make them stop tending the flock, so that the shepherds cannot feed themselves anymore. I will rescue My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”
The Restoration of Israel
11 For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My flock and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd cares for his sheep on the day that he is among his scattered flock, so I will care for My sheep; and I will rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock and I will let them lie down [to rest],” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bandage the crippled, and strengthen the weak and the sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong [who have become hard-hearted and perverse]. I will feed them with judgment and punishment.(B)
17 “And as for you, My flock, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats [between the righteous and the unrighteous]. 18 Is it too little a thing for you that you [unrighteous ones who are well-fed] feed in the best pasture, yet you must trample down with your feet [of wickedness] the rest of your pastures? Or that you drink clear [still] water, yet you must muddy with your feet [of wickedness] the rest [of the water]? 19 As for My flock (the righteous), they must feed on what you trample with your feet and drink what you muddy with your feet!’”
20 Therefore thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I Myself will judge between the [well-fed] fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and gore with your horns all those that have become weak and sick until you have scattered them away, 22 therefore, I will rescue My flock, and they shall no longer be prey; and I will judge between one sheep [ungodly] and another [godly].
23 “Then I will appoint over them one shepherd and he will feed them, [a ruler like] My servant [a]David; he will feed them and be their shepherd.(C) 24 And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David will be a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.
25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them and will eliminate the predatory animals from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep [safely] in the woods.(D) 26 I will make them and the places around My hill (Jerusalem, Zion) a blessing. And I will make showers come down in their season; there will be [abundant] showers of blessing (divine favor). 27 Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its produce; and My people will be secure on their land. Then they will know [with confidence] that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have rescued them from the hand of those who made them slaves. 28 They will no longer be prey to the nations, and the predators of the earth will not devour them; but they will live safely, and no one will make them afraid [in the [b]day of the Messiah’s reign].(E) 29 I will prepare for them a place renowned for planting [crops], and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations any longer. 30 Then they will know [with assurance] that I the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God. 31 “As for you, My flock, the flock of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord God.
- Ezekiel 34:23 The name of David is used here as in Ezek 34:24; 37:24, 25; Jer 30:9; Hos 3:5, to represent the Messiah, not the man, David king of Israel. It is believed that this Messianic prophecy would have been understood by Ezekiel’s audience.
- Ezekiel 34:28 One day when Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), He was handed the roll of the book of Isaiah to read aloud. He turned to Is 61, which tells what His coming to the world would mean. Jesus read only a few lines of the chapter, stopping in the middle of a sentence, and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). He had just read of His coming to preach the Gospel, to proclaim release to the captives, to give sight to the blind, to set free the bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. He stopped there, for the rest of the chapter could not be fulfilled until His second coming, of which Isaiah’s prophecy tells. The following section in Ezekiel (vv 24-31) is telling about the same Messianic reign of which so many Scripture passages speak, the Messianic reign for which Jesus promised to return to earth (Matt 24:30; 25:31-34; Rev 1:7, 8; see also Luke 1:32, 33; Acts 1:10, 11).