Sheep and the shepherds who keep them safe
1 The LORD spoke to me. 2 ‘Son of man’, he said. ‘You must prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Say to them, “This is what the LORD God says, ‘I am angry with the shepherds of Israel. They only think about themselves. But shepherds should keep the sheep safe and well. 3 You eat their milk and you make warm clothes from their wool. You kill the best animals to eat. But you have not kept my sheep well and safe. 4 You have not helped the weak sheep to grow strong. You have not made the sick ones well. Nor have you tied up those who were hurting. You have not found the lost sheep and brought them back. You have not ruled them in a kind way. You have been cruel to them. 5 So my sheep went away to many places because they did not have a shepherd. Then the wild animals ate them. 6 My sheep went over the mountains and the high hills. They were all over the land. Nobody went to find them.’ ” ’
34:6It was common to say that a ruler was like a shepherd. Here, the rulers of Israel were called the shepherds of Israel.
7 So I say this to you, my shepherds, says the LORD: 8 ‘My sheep do not have any shepherds. You shepherds have not kept my sheep safe and wild animals have eaten the sheep. You did not look for those that were lost. You only wanted good things for yourselves. 9 So listen to what I say, you shepherds. 10 The LORD God says this, “You can be sure that I am against the shepherds. They should have kept my sheep safe. Because they did not do this they will no longer be shepherds. They will no longer keep my sheep. Then they will not have any food to eat. I will take away my sheep so that no shepherds can eat them.” ’
11 So this is what the LORD God says, ‘I myself will look for my sheep and I will keep them safe. 12 I will be like a shepherd who looks everywhere to find his lost sheep. I will be with them and I will keep them safe. I will bring them back from places that are far away. They went away on a dark day when I let bad things happen. 13 I will bring them back from other countries to their own land. They will eat grass on the mountains of Israel. They will eat it in its valleys and villages. 14 I will keep them on good land. And they will eat grass on Israel's high places. They will lie down in the good land. They will eat good food on Israel's mountains. 15 I will keep them safe myself. I will make them lie down and rest’, says the LORD God.
16 ‘I will find the lost sheep and I will bring them back. I will tie up the ones that are hurting. I will help the weak ones to become strong. But I will kill the fat sheep in a way that is fair.
17 This is what the LORD God says to his sheep, “I will decide how to judge between my sheep. I will decide how to judge between male sheep and goats. 18 You have much good food, so you must not destroy other grass. You have clean water to drink. So you must not make dirty that which remains. 19 I do not want my sheep to eat grass that you have made too dirty to eat. I do not want them to drink water that you have made dirty with your feet.” ’
20 So this is what the LORD God says to them, ‘I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the thin sheep. 21 You attack them with the sharp points (horns) on your heads. Then you push them away with your shoulders. Because you do this, 22 I will save my sheep. No longer will anyone take them away. I will judge between one sheep and another sheep. 23 I will make my servant David one shepherd over them all. He will keep them safe. He will be their shepherd. 24 I, the LORD will be their God and David will rule them. He will be their king. I the LORD have spoken.
25 I will make a promise to them. I will give them peace. I will take away the wild animals. Then they can live in the desert. Then they can sleep in the forests. They will be safe there. 26 I will bless them (give them many good things). I will bless all the places round my hill. I will send them rain at the right seasons. The rain will be a picture of how kind I will be to them. 27 The trees will give them their fruit. Seeds that they plant in the ground will give plenty of food to eat. The people will be safe in their country. I will make them free from the men who made them their servants. They will no longer be slaves. Then they will know that I am the LORD. 28 Other nations will no longer take their things. And no longer will wild animals eat them. They will be safe and nobody will make them afraid. 29 I will give them a country that gives much good food. So then they will always have enough to eat. They will never be hungry. Other nations will not say bad things about them any longer. 30 Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them. They will know that they are my people’, says the LORD God.
31 ‘And you are like my sheep, the sheep of my grass-lands. You are men and I am your God’, says the LORD God.