Ezekiel 34:23
And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.
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(23) Set up one shepherd.—He is one both with reference to the many evil rulers who have gone before (and this implies the perpetuity of His rule), and also with reference to the two kingdoms of Israel, which are hereafter to be for evermore united in the one Church of God. Obviously this prophecy can find its accomplishment in no merely human ruler.

My servant David.—The name of David is here put simply, as in Ezekiel 34:24, Ezekiel 37:24-25; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5, instead of the more usual designations of the Messiah as the Son, the Branch, the Offspring of David; but there can be no possible doubt of the meaning, any more than of who is meant by Elijah in Malachi 4:5, in view of our Lord’s own interpretation in Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:11-14. Yet it should be remembered, if any one should incline to understand this whole prophecy literally, that if one part is to be so understood the rest must be taken in the same way; if we are to think that the prophet here foretells the literal restoration of the two kingdoms of Israel to their own land, and their union under one governor, then that governor must be David himself. The absurdity of such a supposition is one important element in showing that the whole is to be understood of a promise of spiritual blessings, and of the gathering of God’s people into His Church as one flock under their Almighty Shepherd. (Comp. John 10:14-18.) David, as the head of the theocracy and the ancestor of our Lord after the flesh, constantly appears in the Scriptures as the type of the Messiah, and there can be no reasonable doubt that this prophecy must have been so understood, even at the time when it was uttered.

Ezekiel 34:23-25. And I will set up one Shepherd — That is, the Messiah, “the true Shepherd, who hath given himself this name both in the prophets and in the gospel, and who hath perfectly fulfilled all the duties, the characters whereof have been before described. He is called David, because he sprung from David according to the flesh; because he possessed eminently and really all those qualities which the Scriptures give to David as the type of the Messiah; and because he was the person in whom all the promises made to David were fulfilled. Though this prophecy was in a great measure completed when Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, gathered into one the children of God, among whom were many of the lost sheep of Israel, yet it will receive a further completion at the general conversion of the Jews.” — Calmet. I the Lord will be their God — I will renew my covenant with them, and receive them again into my protection. I will be a God all-sufficient for them, and they shall not, as formerly, have recourse to any other. And my servant David a prince among them — To reduce them to their allegiance, to receive their homage, and to reign over them, in them, and for them. Observe, reader, those, and those only, that have the Lord Jesus for their Prince, have the Lord Jehovah for their God. And I will make with them a covenant of peace — The covenant of grace is this covenant of peace; in it God is at peace with penitent and obedient believers, speaks peace to them, and assures them of peace with him, and of all good, even all the good they need to make them happy. This peace is through Jesus Christ, who hath procured it for us by his merits, and imparts it to us by his Spirit. He is the peace predicted by Micah 5:5. Peace to men was announced at his birth; his gospel is the gospel of peace, and he himself is the God and King of peace: in short, he it is who pacifieth all things and reconciles and unites in one Jews and Gentiles, God and man, heaven and earth. And I will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land — Persecutors shall no more distress my church, nor infidels seduce them. They shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods — They shall be perfectly safe, by night as well as by day, under my protection. He alludes to the circumstance of the eastern shepherds frequently lying abroad in the fields with their flocks during the night, without a tent to shelter them.34:17-31 The whole nation seemed to be the Lord's flock, yet they were very different characters; but he knew how to distinguish between them. By good pastures and deep waters, are meant the pure word of God and the dispensing of justice. The latter verses, 23-31, prophesy of Christ, and of the most glorious times of his church on earth. Under Him, as the good Shepherd, the church would be a blessing to all around. Christ, though excellent in himself, was as a tender plant out of a dry ground. Being the Tree of life, bearing all the fruits of salvation, he yields spiritual food to the souls of his people. Our constant desire and prayer should be, that there may be showers of blessings in every place where the truth of Christ is preached; and that all who profess the gospel may be filled with fruits of righteousness.One shepherd - One, as ruling over an undivided people, the distinction between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah having been done away.

My servant David - David was a fit type of the True King because he was a true and faithful servant of Yahweh. That which David was partially and imperfectly, Christ is in full perfection (compare Matthew 12:18; John 5:30; Hebrews 10:7.)

23. set up—that is, raise up by divine appointment; alluding to the declaration of God to David, "I will set up thy seed after thee" (2Sa 7:12); and, "Yet have I set My king on My holy hill of Zion" (Ps 2:6; compare Ac 2:30; 13:23).

one shepherd—literally, "a Shepherd, one": singularly and pre-eminently one: the only one of His kind, to whom none is comparable (So 5:10). The Lord Jesus refers to this prophecy (Joh 10:14), "I am THE Good Shepherd." Also "one" as uniting in one the heretofore divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and also "gathering together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and on earth" (Eph 1:10); thus healing worse breaches than that between Israel and Judah (Col 1:20). "God by Him reconciling all things unto Himself, whether things in earth or in heaven."

David—the antitypical David, Messiah, of the seed of David, which no other king after the captivity was: who was fully, what David was only in a degree, "the man after God's own heart." Also, David means beloved: Messiah was truly God's beloved Son (Isa 42:1; Mt 3:17). Shepherd means King, rather than religious instructor; in this pre-eminently He was the true David, who was the Shepherd King (Lu 1:32, 33). Messiah is called "David" in Isa 55:3, 4; Jer 30:9; Ho 3:5.

I will set; advance, establish, and make great; thus I will appoint and set up.

One shepherd: formerly their many shepherds destroyed, as Jeremiah 12:10; now this one shall save. Literally and historically Zerubbabel may be somewhat intended, but principally and plenarily, as Christ is intended here, so in him it was accomplished; for he is the great, good, chief, only Shepherd, that laid down his life for his sheep.

Feed them; give them best, most abundant, and most seasonable food, he also shall govern them in righteousness, and with equity.

My servant David; Messiah, (as Kimchi on the place,) of the seed of David, the beloved One, who was typified by David, and in other places called by this name, as Isaiah 37:35 Jeremiah 30:9 Ezekiel 37:24 Hosea 3:5.

He shall do all the office of a good and faithful shepherd, and that for ever. I will trust them in his hands, for he will keep them, that not one of them shall be lost, but shall go in and out under his hand, and find pasture. And I will set up one shepherd over them,.... Or governor, as the Targum; an excellent one of a thousand, the only one; in comparison of whom others are not to be named; for though there are under shepherds, as magistrates and ministers of the word, he is the principal one; that is, Christ, called the good Shepherd, the great Shepherd, and the chief Shepherd, and the only one; and who became so by the constitution and appointment of Jehovah the Father; who chose him, called him, and intrusted him with all his sheep: who sent him to seek and save his lost sheep; for whom he died, rose again, and is accountable: he is more particularly called the one Shepherd, with respect to Jew and Gentile; see John 10:16,

and he shall feed them; the flock, even the poor of the flock, thrust at and pushed by others: he shall feed them by his ministers, as under shepherds in his churches, where his word is preached, and his ordinances are administered; he shall feed them with himself, the bread of life; with his flesh and blood, which are meat and drink indeed; with covenant grace, blessings, and promises; with the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; he feeds his babes with milk, his strong men with meat, and all with the wholesome words of faith and good doctrine, whereby he nourishes them up to everlasting life; and this he

shall do, not by force, but willingly: it denotes the certainty of it; it may be depended on:

even my servant David; not David himself literally; who though a shepherd, and the servant of the Lord, yet had been dead many years before this prophecy was delivered; nor Zerubbabel, who was of his seed; for though a servant of the Lord, and a prince or governor of Judah, yet not a king, and much less a king or prince for ever; as this person is said to be, Ezekiel 37:24, but the Messiah, as is expressly owned by Kimchi; who says, this is the Messiah that shall arise from his seed in the time of salvation: he is called David because his name agrees with him, which signifies "beloved", he being beloved of God and man; and because the son of David, of his seed according to the flesh; and because David was an eminent type of him, in his person, offices, afflictions, wars, victories, and exaltation; and because he was David's Lord and representative, and in whom his everlasting kingdom is established. The same is called the servant of the Lord, as he often is in Scripture, being so in his office capacity as Mediator; and because he took upon him the form of a servant; did the work of one; and was of the Lord's choosing, calling, supporting, and glorifying:

he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd; which is repeated for the greater confirmation of it.

And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant {k} David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

(k) Meaning Christ, of whom David was a figure, See Geneva Jer 30:9 See Geneva Ho 3:5

23. my servant David] The meaning cannot be that David would in person revive and reappear. It is more doubtful whether the prophet means that the line or family of David would again occupy the throne or that a single person would be king. It is possible that this question was not strictly before his mind; it is the character of the ruler that he thinks of. The oriental mind hardly distinguishes between an ancient personage and one who appears in his power and spirit; when it compares it identifies. The new prince over the people will be David, the servant of the Lord. Both the person and the reign of David were idealized. He was not in general terms but in truth the man after God’s own heart. His rule was not merely extensive, it was universal. He gave the people victory and secured them peace—he was a leader and commander of the peoples (Isaiah 55:4; Psalm 18:43). Such shall be the king of the restored community when Jehovah is indeed the God of Israel. For it is to be noted that in Messianic prophecy it is Jehovah who saves the people (Ezekiel 34:22 and preceding verses); then he appoints a shepherd over the restored community, who feeds them in righteousness and peace. The Messiah is the king of the saved community, whom he rules in the fear of the Lord with all royal and godly qualities; and the virtues of his character, fruit of the spirit of the Lord, communicate themselves to those whom he rules (Isaiah 11). It is possible that the phrase “one shepherd” is to be interpreted as in Ezekiel 37:24, with the meaning that the two kingdoms shall be one, and that this is part of the meaning of the term “David,” cf. Hosea 1:11; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:11. See more fully ch. 37.

23–28. Instead of the many worthless shepherds of old there shall in the future be one good shepherd, even David, and Jehovah shall in truth be God of Israel.Verse 23. - And I will set up one Shepherd over them. Here, more than ever, we have an anticipation of our Lord's teaching in John 10:1-18. He claims to be the Fulfiller, as of the prediction of Isaiah 40:11 and Jeremiah 23:1-3, so also of this. He, the "Son of David," is the David that inherits that among other promises. It has to be noted, however, that Ezekiel's words paint, less distinctly than those of the earlier prophets, the picture of an individual Messianic king, and seem rather to point, as do those of Zechariah 12:10 (I do not now discuss the date of that prophecy), to a line of true rulers, each faithfully representing the ideal David as the faithful Ruler, the true Shepherd of his people (Psalm 78:71; comp. Ezekiel 37:24; Ezekiel 45:8, 9). As watchman over Israel, Ezekiel is to announce to those who are despairing of the mercy of God, that the Lord will preserve from destruction those who turn from their sin, and lead them into life. - Ezekiel 33:10. Thou then, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Ye rightly say, Our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and in them we vanish away; how, then, can we live? Ezekiel 33:11. Say to them, As truly as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner; but when the sinner turneth from his way, he shall live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways! for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:12. And thou, son of man, say to the sons of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and the sinner will not fall through his sin in the day that he turneth from his sin, and the righteous man will not be able to live thereby in the day that he sinneth. Ezekiel 33:13. If I say to the righteous man that he shall live, and he relies upon his righteousness and does wrong, all his righteousnesses will not be remembered; and for his wrong that he has done, he will die. Ezekiel 33:14. If I say to the sinner, Thou shalt die, and he turns from his sin, and does justice and righteousness, Ezekiel 33:15. So that the wicked returns the pledge, restores what has been robbed, walks in the statutes of life without doing wrong, he will live, not die. Ezekiel 33:16. All his sins which he has committed shall not be remembered against him; he has done justice and righteousness, he will live. Ezekiel 33:17. And the sons of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not right; but they - their way is not right. Ezekiel 33:18. If the righteous man turneth from his righteousness and doeth wrong, he shall die thereby; Ezekiel 33:19. But if the wicked man turneth from his wickedness and doeth right and righteousness, he will live thereby. Ezekiel 33:20. And yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not right. I will judge you every one according to his ways, O house of Israel. - In Ezekiel 33:10 and Ezekiel 33:11 the prophet's calling for the future is set before him, inasmuch as God instructs him to announce to those who are in despair on account of their sins the gracious will of the Lord. The threat contained in the law (Leviticus 26:39), ימּקּוּ בּעונם, of which Ezekiel had repeatedly reminded the people with warning, and, last of all, when predicting the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (compare Ezekiel 4:17 and Ezekiel 24:23), had pressed heavily upon their heart, when the threatened judgment took place, so that they quote the words, not "in self-defence," as Hvernick erroneously supposes, but in despair of any deliverance. Ezekiel is to meet this despair of little faith by the announcement that the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but desires his conversion and his life. Ezekiel had already set this word of grave before the people in Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32, accompanied with the summons to salvation for them to lay to heart: there, it was done to overthrow the delusion that the present generation had to atone for the sins of the fathers; but here, to lift up the hearts of those who were despairing of salvation; and for this reason it is accompanied with the asseveration (wanting in Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 18:32): "as truly as I live, saith the Lord," and with the urgent appeal to repent and turn. But in order to preclude the abuse of this word of consolation by making it a ground of false confidence in their own righteousness, Ezekiel repeats in Ezekiel 33:12-20 the principal thoughts contained in that announcement (Ezekiel 18:20-32) - namely, first of all, in Ezekiel 33:12-16, the thought that the righteousness of the righteous is of no avail to him if he gives himself up to the unrighteousness, and that the sinner will not perish on account of his sin if he turns from his wickedness and strives after righteousness (יכּשׁל , Ezekiel 33:12, as in Hosea 5:5; Jeremiah 6:15; compare Ezekiel 18:24-25, and Ezekiel 18:21, Ezekiel 18:22; and for Ezekiel 33:14 and Ezekiel 33:15, more especially Ezekiel 18:5 and Ezekiel 18:7); and then, secondly, in Ezekiel 33:17-20, the reproof of those who find fault with the way of the Lord (compare Ezekiel 18:25, Ezekiel 18:27, Ezekiel 18:29-30).
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