We read of many kings who did only evil in the eyes of the Lord. Over and over, they led the people away from God. God spoke metaphorically through Jeremiah in chapter 23 to highlight the failure of these “shepherds” (leaders) who tended God’s flock, “the sheep of My pasture” (the people). God condemned them for “destroying and scattering” God’s people.
Then God spoke of how He would gather the remnant of His people who were scattered in exile and bring them back to the land He had given them. His message became messianic: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land … And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness’” (23:5-6). Isaiah also gave the same message: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit” (Is. 11:1).
God’s promise to David (1 Ch. 17:14) was fulfilled when Jesus came as the Good Shepherd! Jesus said that the hired hand, who is not a shepherd, and who is not the owner of the sheep, would flee when the wolf came. When this happened, the sheep would be scattered. These unfaithful hired hands would be like the unfaithful kings and false prophets who led Israel and Judah astray. But Jesus concluded, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me … and I lay down My life for the sheep … My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:14, 27). We hear His voice: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23).
– Al Gary