Ezekiel 34

The Word Made Fresh

1The word of the LORD said to me: 2“Son of man, speak a prophetic word against the shepherds of Israel. Tell them this is what the LORD says: You shepherds of Israel have only been feeding yourselves. Shouldn’t you feed the sheep? 3You eat the mutton and make clothes for yourselves with the wool. You slaughter the fattest ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4You haven’t defended the weak, or healed the sick. You have not bound the wounds of the injured. You have not brought back the ones who strayed away. You haven’t bothered to search for the ones who were lost, but instead have forcefully and harshly lorded it over them. 5They were scattered because they had no real shepherd, and being scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6My sheep were scattered, and wandered over the mountains and high hills. They were scattered over the face of the earth, with no one bothering to search for them.

7“So, shepherds, hear what the LORD says: 8As surely as I live, says the LORD God, because my sheep have become prey and food for all the wild animals because there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not even searched for my sheep but have fed themselves instead of feeding my sheep, 9now hear the word of the LORD. 10The LORD God says: I am against the shepherds, and I demand that they account for my sheep. I will put an end to their feeding the sheep, and they will no longer feed themselves. Instead, I will free my sheep from their mouths and my sheep will no longer be food for them.”

11The LORD God says: “I will personally search for my sheep until I find them. 12Just as the shepherd searches for his sheep when they are mixed with other sheep, so I will search for my sheep. I will save them from wherever they have been scattered in the dark and cloudy days. 13I will bring them back from the foreign countries and bring them to their own land. I will feed them on the hilltops of Israel, beside the streams, and in all the settled parts of the land. 14I will provide them good pastures in which to feed, and the heights will be their pasture as well. They shall rest in good grazing land and feed on rich pasturelands in the hills of Israel. 15I will be the shepherd of my sheep, I myself, and I will give them rest, says the LORD God. 16I will search for the ones who are lost, and rescue those who have strayed. I will bandage their injuries and give strength to the weak, but I will do away with the fat and the strong; they will be fed with justice.

17“As for my sheep,” says the LORD God, “I shall judge between sheep and sheep, and between rams and goats. 18It is enough for you to feed on good pastures, but why must you tread down the rest of your pastures with your feet? And when you drink the clear water, must you dirty it with your feet? 19Must my sheep have to eat the grain you have trodden on and drink the water you have dirtied with your feet?

20“So,” says the LORD God, “I will personally judge between the fat and lean sheep. 21You pushed against others with your flank and your shoulders, and butted the weak animals with your horns until they were scattered far and wide, 22but I will rescue my flock and they will no longer be ill-treated. I will judge between sheep and sheep.

23“I will put one shepherd over them – my servant David. He will feed them and be their shepherd, 24and I, the LORD, will be their God. My servant David will be the prince among them. I, the LORD, have spoken it.

25“I will make an agreement with them, a covenant of peace. And I will banish the wild animals from the land so that they might live in the uninhabited areas and sleep in the woods safely. 26I will make them and all the land around my hill a blessing. I will send rain in its season, showers of blessing. 27The field trees will yield their fruit and the earth will yield its crops. They will be safe on their land, and they will know that I am the LORD when I break their yokes and rescue them from the enemies who had enslaved them. 28Never again will they be plundered by other nations. Never again shall the wild animals in the land attack them, for they shall live in safety. Nothing shall make them afraid. 29I will give them plenty to eat so that they won’t be overtaken by hunger in the land, and they will no longer suffer the insults of other nations. 30They shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the people of Israel, are my people, says the LORD God. 31You are my sheep in my pasture and I am your God,” says the LORD God.


1-6: The “shepherds” are the leaders of the people and in this context may be specifically the spiritual leaders of the people. They have made themselves fat at the people’s expense.

7-10: God is against these leaders because they have failed to protect the sheep, which is clearly a reference to the people.

11-16: God will personally become the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep and brings them home. Jesus surely was thinking of this passage when he told the beautiful parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7).

17-19: Still, the sheep have not been blameless, either.

20-22: Those who have gotten “fat” on the suffering of the others will receive the judgment of the shepherd.

23-24: Finally, the name “David” is uttered. He has been barely in the shadows on a number of occasions but now steps into the open. Of course, Ezekiel is likely referring to an expected restoration of the throne of David, with a descendant of David sitting on it, as they believed God had promised long ago.

25-31: The restoration of the land is described in idyllic terms, with even nature and wild animals dwelling in peace there.


Leadership is certainly to blame when a whole country begins to go down the drain, but that is not an excuse for the rest of us to behave in ways that God does not approve.