Ezekiel 34:11
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Behold, I, even I.—The rich promises of the following verses are all essentially contained in this, that Jehovah Himself will be the Shepherd of His flock. It is the same assurance as that given by the Saviour in John 10, and here, as there, must necessarily be understood spiritually. In the following verses many promises are given of an earthly and temporary character, and these were fulfilled partly in the. restoration from exile, partly in the glorious deliverance of the Church from its foes under the Maccabees. But these deliverances themselves were but types of the more glorious Messianic deliverance of the future, and necessary means whereby it was secured. The promise of that deliverance could only be brought at all within the comprehension of the people by setting it forth in earthly language, just as even now it is impossible for us to understand the glories of the Church triumphant, except by the aid of the sensible images in which Scripture has portrayed them. Far less was it possible to this people, so much behind us in spiritual education and enlightenment.

Ezekiel 34:11-16. Behold, I, even I, will search my sheep — I myself will recall them from their wanderings into the right way; and will seek them out — Hebrew, בקדתים, I will seek them early, or, seek them in the morning. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock — With the greatest care and diligence; as he gathers them together, counts them, brings them to the fold, observes what they have suffered, and, if lame or torn, binds up and heals them, and provides pasture for them; so will I seek out my sheep, &c. — Though magistrates and ministers fail in doing their part for the good of the church, yet God will not fail in doing his; he will take his flock into his own hands, rather than it should be deprived of any kindness he had designed for it. The under shepherds may prove careless, but the chief Shepherd neither slumbers nor sleeps. They may be false, but he abides faithful. And deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered — Will bring them home from their several dispersions, whither they have been driven; in the cloudy and dark day — Hebrew, ביום ענן וערפל, in the day of clouds and darkness; in the dark and dismal time of the destruction of their country. And will bring them out from the people — This prophecy primarily respected their restoration from captivity in Babylon, and was in part at least fulfilled when so many thousands of them returned to their own land under the conduct of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and others. It seems, however, to look still further, even to the general restoration of the whole Jewish nation from their present wide dispersion over the whole world, which restoration most of the prophets foretel shall be effected in the latter days. But there is no need to confine this promise wholly to the Jews; when those, in any age or nation, that have gone astray from God into the paths of sin are brought back by repentance; when those that erred come to the acknowledgment of the truth; when God’s outcasts are gathered and restored, and religious assemblies that were dispersed are again collected and united upon the ceasing of persecution; and when the churches have rest and liberty, then this prediction has a true accomplishment. I will feed them in a good pasture — I will supply all their wants, and make ample provision for the support both of their natural and spiritual life. Upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be —

There shall they have fixed habitations upon their return, and there shall they rest in safety. There shall they lie in a good fold, &c. — These expressions denote both plenty and security. But I will destroy the fat and the strong — Those who oppress and tyrannise over the weak. I will feed them with judgment — I will judge, chastise, and punish them.

34:7-16 The Lord declared that he intended mercy towards the scattered flock. Doubtless this, in the first place, had reference to the restoration of the Jews. It also represented the good Shepherd's tender care of the souls of his people. He finds them in their days of darkness and ignorance, and brings them to his fold. He comes to their relief in times of persecution and temptation. He leads them in the ways of righteousness, and causes them to rest on his love and faithfulness. The proud and self-sufficient, are enemies of the true gospel and of believers; against such we must guard. He has rest for disquieted saints, and terror for presumptuous sinners.Yahweh is the shepherd of His people. He will do all which the shepherds should have done and did not. These promises - partially fulfilled in the return from Babylon, and in the subsequent prosperity under the Maccabees - point to the ingathering of all nations in the Church of Christ the Good Shepherd. Compare Matthew 18:11 : John 10:1-18; Romans 9:25-33. 11. I … will … search—doing that which the so-called shepherds had failed to do, I being the rightful owner of the flock. I, even I: the construction is emphatical in the Hebrew and well expressed here; I, the Owner, the Lover, the Maker, the great Shepherd, even I, who committed them to your care, never submitted them to your rapine and cruelty, am as angry with you for devouring them as I am zealous for their welfare.

Search; will demand the them of you. I know how many I delivered to your keeping and I expect an account of so many again; I will see in what state and condition they are too. Seek them out: see Ezekiel 34:5,6: under your hand many are, but under my hand not one shall be lost.

For thus saith the Lord God,.... Since the shepherds are so negligent, careless, and cruel:

behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out; as he did the Jews, in all countries where they were, so his elect in all places where they are: he is the omniscient God, and knows them that are his, and can call his own sheep by name; he knows the places where they are; for he has fixed the bounds of their habitation, and was delighting himself in the habitable parts of the earth, where he knew they would be, even before the world was; he knows the time of finding them, which he himself has fixed, and which is a time of love, and a time of life; and he can distinguish them, notwithstanding the filth they have contracted by their sins and transgressions, and from the crowd they are among: and he is the omnipotent God, that can take them out of what hands soever they may be, or in whatsoever state and condition they are; though in the hands of Satan, in the paws of that devouring lion, and in a pit wherein is no water, in a horrible pit, the mire and clay: he that says this is the owner and proprietor of them; and that is the reason why he searches and seeks them out; and which he repeats for the confirmation of it, and to show the vehemence of his affection towards them, and how bent he is upon it, and how eager and resolute in his pursuit after them: he searches for his chosen people among the ruins of Adam's fall, in whom they fell as others; among the men of the world, where they are; among the dust of the earth, where his lost piece of silver and those pearls lie; among the mountains of sin or self-righteousness, where these sheep are wandering; and he never leaves off seeking and searching till he has found them: and what moves him to it is not their nature, for they are no better than others; nor their numbers, for they are few; but his love to them, the relation he stands in to them as their shepherd, his interest and property in them, his covenant on their account, and also his own glory.

For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. search my sheep] i.e. search for, or, search out.

11–16. Jehovah himself will undertake the care of his flock

Verse 11. - Behold, I, even I, etc. The words, as the last reference shows, and as we find in vers. 23-31, do not exclude, rather they imply, human instrumentality, just us our Lord's do in Matthew 18:12 and Luke 15:4-7; but they reveal the truth that Jehovah is the true Shepherd of his people. Not the sweet psalmist of Israel only, but the lowest outcast, might use the language of Psalm 23, and say, "The Lord is my Shepherd." He will gather the sheep that have been scattered in the "cloudy and dark day," the day of the Lord's judgment (Ezekiel 30:3). For the prophet the words pointed to that vision of a restored Israel, which was dominant in the expectations both of Isaiah (or the Deutero-Isaiah) in Ezekiel 40-48, and in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:12-18), which floated before the minds of the apostles (Acts 1:6), and to which even St. Paul looked forward as the solution of the great problems of the world's history (Romans 9-11.). Ezekiel 34:11Jehovah Himself will seek His flock, gather it together from the dispersion, lead it to good pasture, and sift it by the destruction of the bad sheep. - Ezekiel 34:11. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I myself, I will inquire after my flock, and take charge thereof. Ezekiel 34:12. As a shepherd taketh charge of his flock in the day when he is in the midst of his scattered sheep, so will I take charge of my flock, and deliver them out of all the places whither they have been scattered in the day of cloud and cloudy night. Ezekiel 34:13. And I will bring them out from the nations, and gather them together out of the lands, and bring them into their land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel, in the valleys, and in all the dwelling-places of the land. Ezekiel 34:14. I will feed them in a good pasture, and on the high mountains of Israel will their pasture-ground be: there shall they lie down in a good pasture-ground, and have fat pasture on the mountains of Israel. Ezekiel 34:15. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 34:16. That which is lost will I seek, and that which is driven away will I bring back; that which is wounded will I bind up, and that which is sick will I:strengthen: but that which is fat and strong will I destroy, and feed them according to justice. Ezekiel 34:17. And you, my sheep, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will judge between sheep and sheep, and the rams and the he-goats. Ezekiel 34:18. Is it too little for you, that ye eat up the good pasture, and what remains of your pasture ye tread down with your feet? and the clear water ye drink, and render muddy what remains with your feet? Ezekiel 34:19. And are my sheep to have for food that which is trodden down by your feet, and to drink that which is made muddy by your feet? Ezekiel 34:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah to them, Behold, I, I will judge between fat sheep and lean. Ezekiel 34:21. Because ye press with side and shoulder, and thrust all the weak with your horns, till ye have driven them out; Ezekiel 34:22. I will help my sheep, so that they shall no more become a prey; and will judge between sheep and sheep. - All that the Lord will do for His flock is summed up in Ezekiel 34:11, in the words דּרשׁתּי את־צאני וּבקּרתּים, which stand in obvious antithesis to 'ואין דּורשׁ וגו in Ezekiel 34:6 - an antithesis sharply accentuated by the emphatic הנני אני, which stands at the head in an absolute form. The fuller explanation is given in the verses which follow, from Ezekiel 34:12 onwards. Observe here that biqeer is substituted for בּקּשׁ. בּקּר, to seek and examine minutely, involves the idea of taking affectionate charge. What the Lord does for His people is compared in Ezekiel 34:12 to the care which a shepherd who deserves the name manifests towards sheep when they are scattered (נפרשׁות without the article is connected with צאנו in the form of apposition); and in Ezekiel 34:12 it is still more particularly explained. In the first place, He will gather them from all the places to which they have been scattered. הצּיל implies that in their dispersion they have fallen into a state of oppression and bondage among the nations (cf. Exodus 6:6). בּיום belongs to the relative clause: whither they have been scattered. The circumstance that these words are taken from Joel 2:2 does not compel us to take them in connection with the principal clause, as Hitzig and Kliefoth propose, and to understand them as relating to the time when God will hold His judgment of the heathen world. The notion that the words in Joel signify "God's day of judgment upon all the heathen" (Kliefoth), is quite erroneous; and even Hitzig does not derive this meaning from Joel 2:2, but from the combination of our verse with Ezekiel 30:3 and Ezekiel 29:21. The deliverance of the sheep out of the places to which they have been scattered, consists in the gathering together of Israel out of the nations, and their restoration to their own land, and their feeding upon the mountains and all the dwelling-places of the land (מושׁב, a place suitable for settlement), and that in good and fat pasture (Ezekiel 34:14); and lastly, in the fact that Jehovah bestows the necessary care upon the sheep, strengthens and heals the weak and sick (Ezekiel 34:15 and Ezekiel 34:16) - that is to say, does just what the bad shepherds have omitted (Ezekiel 34:4) - and destroys the fat and strong. In this last clause another side is shown of the pastoral fidelity of Jehovah. אשׁמיד has been changed by the lxx, Syr., and Vulg. into ,אשׁמורφυλάχω; and Luther has followed them in his rendering, "I will watch over them." But this is evidently a mistake, as it fails to harmonize with ארענּה במשׁפּט. The fat and strong sheep are characterized in Ezekiel 34:18 and Ezekiel 34:19 as those which spoil the food and water of the others. The allusion, therefore, is to the rich and strong ones of the nation, who oppress the humble and poor, and treat them with severity. The destruction of these oppressors shows that the loving care of the Lord is associated with righteousness - that He feeds the flock בּמשׁפּט.

This thought is carried out still further in Ezekiel 34:17-21, the sheep themselves being directly addressed, and the Lord assuring them that He will judge between sheep and sheep, and put an end to the oppressive conduct of the fat sheep and the strong. בּין שׂה לשׂה: between the one sheep and the other. לשׂה is extended in the apposition, "the rams and he-goats," which must not be rendered, "with regard to the rams and he-goats," as it has been by Kliefoth. The thought is not that Jehovah will divide the rams and he-goats from the sheep, as some have explained it, from an inappropriate comparison with Matthew 25:32; but the division is to be effected in such a manner that sheep will be separated from sheep, the fat sheep being placed on one side with the rams and he-goats, and kept apart from the lean (רזה, Ezekiel 34:20) and the sickly sheep (נהלות, Matthew 25:21). It is to the last-named sheep, rams, and he-goats that Matthew 25:18 and Matthew 25:19 are addressed. With regard to the charge brought against them, that they eat up the pasture and tread down the remainder with their feet, etc., Bochart has already correctly observed, that "if the words are not quite applicable to actual sheep, they are perfectly appropriate to the mystical sheep intended here, i.e., to the Israelites, among whom many of the rich, after enjoying an abundant harvest and vintage, grudged the poor their gleaning in either one or the other." משׁקע, a substantive formation, like מרמס, literally, precipitation of the water, i.e., the water purified by precipitation; for שׁקע, to sink, is the opposite of רפשׂ, to stir up or render muddy by treading with the feet (compare Ezekiel 32:14 and Ezekiel 32:2). בּריה, Ezekiel 34:20 equals בּראה or בּריּה. Ezekiel 34:22 brings to a close the description of the manner in which God will deliver His flock, and feed it with righteousness. והושׁעתּי points back to והצּלתּי in Ezekiel 34:12, and ושׁפטתּי to ארענּה במשׁפּט in Ezekiel 34:16. - To this there is appended in Ezekiel 34:23. a new train of thought, describing how God will still further display to His people His pastoral fidelity.

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