Jeremiah 23:1-8: True Shepherds

We have seen how chapter 22 is a kind of ‘rogue’s gallery’ of the final kings of Judah. In the Old Testament kings were shepherds. That’s how they were regarded. They were to love the people and lead them with compassion, tenderness and care. All the kings mentioned in the 22nd chapter, apart from Josiah, were bad shepherds. God was going to punish them for what they had done, and He prophesied a new day of shepherd care with different shepherd leaders, but ultimately the coming of the Messiah Himself, the ‘’good shepherd’’ (John 10).

So chapter 23 needs to be seen in contrast with chapter 22. This section of it:

  • Shows how much the quality of shepherding matters to God – He who is Himself the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 23);
  • Challenges all leaders about how they shepherd the flock of God. We cannot do this carelessly or lightly;
  • Looks forward to a new and greater ‘exodus’ from Babylon and other lands. God’s dispersed people will come home. Even in the middle of messages of judgment, we can hold on to this note of hope;
  • Anticipates the coming of the Messiah. Matthew Henry points out that there aren’t as many Messianic predictions in Jeremiah as there are in Isaiah, but this is certainly one of them. Jeconiah may not have had sons to succeed him on the throne, but David’s line would continue; the promises made to David would be fulfilled. However bleak things may look, you can hold on to God’s Word. It will be fulfilled.

Prayer: Lord Jesus be my shepherd all the days of my life.