A King Whom God Will Choose

14 “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. – Deuteronomy 17:14-25 ESV

In yesterday’s post, we saw that a day would come when the people of Israel would reject God as their rightful King and demand that He provide them with a human king. They would make their request known to Samuel, the prophet of God.

“…you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” – 1 Samuel 8:5 NLT

Samuel would find their demands offensive, but God would command him to do exactly as they had requested.

“Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.” – 1 Samuel 8:8-10 NLT

It would be easy to assume that God was simply acceding to their demands and giving them just what they had asked for: A king to judge us like all the other nations have. But that would be a false assumption. As today’s passage indicates, God knew that the day would come when the people would ask for a king.

When you come to the land the Lord your God is giving you and take it over and live in it and then say, ‘I will select a king like all the nations surrounding me…’” – Deuteronomy 17:14 NLT

God knew in advance what the Israelites were going to do and he had already planned for it. In fact, God let them know the kind of king they should select.

“…you must select without fail a king whom the Lord your God chooses. From among your fellow citizens you must appoint a king.” – Deuteronomy 17:15 NLT

Notice God’s stipulation. He was more than willing for them to select a king for themselves, but it was going to have to be the man He chose. This man would have to have God’s blessing, and he would have to meet God’s standards, which included Israelite citizenship. No non-Jew was to rule over God’s people. And, while they would demand a king just like all the other nations, God was not going to allow this man to emulate the ways of these foreign potentates.

“…he must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so…” – Deuteronomy 17:16 NLT

Stables filled with fine horses might characterize the kingdoms of other rulers, but God was going to expect His king to remain set apart, wholly distinct from all other human-appointed rulers. This would include a ban on accumulating wives and concubines, a typical manifestation of royal power and privilege.

“…he must not marry many wives lest his affections turn aside, and he must not accumulate much silver and gold.” – Deuteronomy 17:17 NLT

The people were going to demand that they be given a king who looked like every other king. They would be thinking in terms of power, position, and prominence. The kind of king they had in mind would have all the familiar trappings of kingship, much like Pharaoh had enjoyed.

But God was not interested in placing the care of His chosen people in the hands of just any king. There would be rules and requirements involved. This man would have to rule and reign according to God’s will. He would have to obey God’s commands. But to do so, he would have to be intimately familiar with those commands, which is why God commanded:

“When he sits on his royal throne he must make a copy of this law on a scroll given to him by the Levitical priests. It must be with him constantly and he must read it as long as he lives, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and observe all the words of this law and these statutes and carry them out.” – Deuteronomy 17:18-19 NLT

A godly king would need to know God’s law. And he would have to rule over God’s people in a way that reflected his knowledge of God’s will. There was no place for pride or arrogance. God’s chosen king would serve as His representative, treating the people of God with the same care and concern He would. And if he did, God promised that “he and his descendants will enjoy many years ruling over his kingdom in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:20 NLT).

But years later, when the people of Israel would bring their demand for a king to Samuel, God would warn them that He was going to give them exactly what they were asking for. He would give them a king just like all the other nations.

“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the LORD will not help you.” – 1 Samuel 8:11-18 NLT

Their preferred version of a king would end up coming back to haunt them. God warned them that He would give them exactly what they demanded. He would give them their hearts desire, even though it would not turn out well for them in the long-run. But, in spite of God’s warning, they would refuse to relent on their demands.

“Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” – 1 Samuel 8:19-20 NLT

God was not opposed to Israel having a king. In fact, He would eventually give them David as their king, a man after His own heart. But before David reigned over Israel, they would suffer under the lousy leadership of Saul, a man who would end up being a king just all the other nations had. And David’s own son, Solomon, would end up disobeying God’s commands, eventually amassing a harem consisting of “700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines” (1 Kings 11:3 NLT). And most of his wives would be foreign-born and idolaters. They would eventually lead him astray, causing him to forsake God and set up idols all throughout his kingdom. And for this indescretion, God would split his kingdom in half, forming the two nations of Israel and Judah.

It was not that God was against Israel having a king, it was that He preferred a king who shared His heart. He wanted a man who would rule and reign as God’s representative, shepherding His sheep as David would eventually do.

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand. – Psalm 78:72 ESV

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson





Filling A Void.

After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:1-6 ESV

There are many things we could say about Absalom – many of them negative. But he was anything but impatient. He had spent two full years plotting his revenge against Amnon. Then he had spent three years living in self-imposed exile in Geshur, waiting to see what his father would do in reaction to his murder of Amnon. When David finally agreed to allow Absalom to return, he waited another two years, confined to his home, because his father refused to either pardon or punish him. And as we will see in the next section of chapter 15, Absalom will bide his time for another four years, quietly and patiently plotting his next move. Yes, Absalom was patient. He was willing to wait. But all the while he waited, he used the time to his advantage and was far from idle.

After David had restored him to favor, Absalom got busy. He had become well aware of a flaw in his father’s leadership abilities. He had personally experienced David’s predilection to procrastination and inaction. He had also been the beneficiary of David’s reluctance to enact justice as God’s appointed judge of Israel. And as Absalom made his way around the capital of Jerusalem, interfacing with the people of Israel, he became more and more convinced that his father‘s weaknesses could be exploited to his own advantage. Absalom was an ambitious young man who had shown his willingness to take matters into his own hands. When David had done nothing to punish Amnon for his rape of Tamar, Absalom had stepped in. When Joab had refused to respond to his repeated requests for an audience with David, he got Joab’s attention by having his barley fields set on fire. Absalom was a doer. He was driven and determined. And when he saw the flaw in David’s armor, he determined to strike a blow.

But Absalom was also cunning and clever. He would have made a great politician. He didn’t personally attack David or expose his weaknesses to the press. He simply began a quiet campaign to win over the hearts of the people. He slowly and subtly created doubt and suspicion in their minds regarding David’s leadership over them and love for them. First of all, he began a carefully crafted publicity campaign. He had been out of sight for five years, so it was important that he establish an image with the people. And the first thing he did was come up with plan to portray himself as a leader. It didn’t hurt that he was good looking.

Now Absalom was praised as the most handsome man in all Israel. He was flawless from head to foot. – 2 Samuel 14:25 NLT

And he was a family man.

He had three sons and one daughter. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she was very beautiful. – 2 Samuel 14:27 NLT

Now, all he needed was the trappings of success. So he bought himself some wheels.

Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. – 2 Samuel 15:1 NLT

Next, he took his show on the road. And what a sight he made each morning when he arrived at the city gate. Nobody would have missed his arrival or wondered who he was. This was Absalom, son of the king. He was handsome, apparently successful and, on top of that, he was a man of the people. You see, Absalom knew that the key to successfully running the nation was to win over the hearts of the people. So he devised a plan to do just that. His strategy of going to the city gate each morning was brilliant. It was at the city gate that all business was conducted and justice dispensed. The people would come there to have their disputes mediated and complaints heard. David was to have his appointed judges and rulers ready to hear from his people and help with their problems. But evidently, David had been lax in providing the judgment and justice a growing city required. And the people were not happy. The crowds gathered each day, expecting justice, but walked away with their expectations unmet. So Absalom exploited the situation.

His arrival each day would not have gone unnoticed. And he went out of his way to ensure that the people saw him as not only a person of power and influence, but a man who cared about their needs. The text tells us, “When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from…” (2 Samuel 15:2 NLT). He would listen to their problem and then he would assure them, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!” (2 Samuel 15:3-4 NLT). Like the serpent in the garden, Absalom sowed seeds of doubt and led the people to question the care and concern of David for their needs. Without attacking David directly, Absalom undermined his father’s credibility with the people. After all, Absalom was there at the gate. He was talking and listening directly to the people. Where was David? Was he too busy to take care of his people? Was he too good to show up at the gate and listen to the problems facing the citizens of his kingdom?

Absalom was sly. He was crafty. And he was coldly calculating in all that he did. When the people began to see him as someone who cared and who might be willing to assist them with their needs, they would treat him with honor and respect, bowing down before him. But Absalom did the unthinkable and unexpected. Instead of allowing the people to honor him as some kind of dignitary, he would embrace them in his arms, treating them as his equal. And his ploy worked.

Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel. – 2 Samuel 15:6 NLT

An interesting side note in all of this is found in the book of Deuteronomy. There we find a somewhat obscure law regarding what to do with a rebellious son. And the fascinating thing about this law is where it was to be enacted: At the city gate.

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” – Deuteronomy 21:18-21 ESV

So, here we have Absalom, the king’s son, who has already murdered his brother, now plotting the overthrow of his father’s kingdom. And where is he attempting sow the seeds of doubt that will later blossom into the fruit of rebellion? The city gate. The very place where Absalom should have been brought to have his crime against Amnon judged and his execution enacted, was where he would begin his rebellion against David.

Once again, we see David’s failure to act decisively coming back to haunt him. We must ask ourselves why it was so easy for Absalom to win over the hearts of the people. Had they become disgruntled and disenchanted with all of David’s well-publicized moral failings? There is little doubt that rumors regarding David’s affair with Bathsheba had gotten out. Most likely, the news of Uriah’s death had spread and the questions regarding the circumstances surrounding his death would have been many. The whole situation with Amnon and Tamar would not have gone unnoticed by the people of Jerusalem. The murder of the king’s son by his brother would have been headline news. And the very fact that Absalom had returned and seemed to be doing quite well for himself had not escaped the notice of the people. There is also the likelihood that David was too busy with affairs of state to effectively listen to and address the needs of his people. It was probably about this time that David was busying himself with the construction of his palace and a place to house the Ark of the Covenant. He was also making preparations and plans for the future construction of the temple. David was a busy man. But had he become too busy to care for his own people? This reminds us that David had been called by God to “shepherd My people Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2). But somewhere along the way, David had begun to lose the respect of his sheep. They had wandered and were easy prey for someone as crafty and cunning as Absalom. David had left a void and Absalom was more than willing to fill it. The sheep were hungry for justice and Absalom was prepared to feed them right from his hand and win their hearts.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Last, But Certainly Not Least.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord‘s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” – 1 Samuel 16:1-11a ESV

The story of the life of King David, considered to be Israel’s greatest king, starts off in a rather less-than-flattering manner. He was born in the city of Bethlehem, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse. David was a member of the tribe of Judah. Judah was one of the sons of Jacob, and it is significant to note that, when Jacob blessed his sons on his deathbed, he said of Judah, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10 ESV). This prophetic word from Jacob revealed that there would be a king, a sovereign, who would rise up from the tribe of Judah. And of this king, Jacob predicted, “your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you” (Genesis 49:8 ESV).

Which brings us to 1 Samuel, chapter 16. The prophet, Samuel, has been sent by God to the city of Bethlehem to anoint a new king. The current king, Israel’s very first king, had disobeyed God and was going to be replaced. King Saul had been the people’s choice. After the up-and-down period of the judges, when Israel had no king, the people had demanded that they be given one. They were tired of being ruled by judges. In fact, the people told Samuel, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 ESV). Samuel’s two sons were judges, but they were dishonest and ungodly men, which prompted the demand for a king. Samuel became angry that the people would ask such a thing, but God told Samuel to give the people exactly what they wanted: A king to judge us like all the nations.

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” – 1 Samuel 8:7-9 ESV

But Saul’s reign didn’t last long. He ended up being just what the people ordered. God had warned them that Saul would prove to be a less-than-satisfactory king (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18).  On top of that, Saul proved to be disobedient to God. And God was forced to remove him as the king, commanding Samuel to break the news to him:

“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” – 1 Samuel 13:14 ESV

“The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.” – 1 Samuel 15:28 ESV

Which brings us to the city of Bethlehem and the house of Jesse. God sent Samuel to Bethlehem with the clear directions to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be Saul’s replacement. Samuel was a bit reluctant, because Saul was still the king, and he feared what Saul might do if he caught wind that another king had been anointed. But God insisted that Samuel do just as He had commanded. And when Samuel invited Jesse and his sons to a sacrifice where he consecrated them.  When he got his first glimpse of Eliab, the firstborn, he immediately assumed he was the one, saying, “Surely the Lord‘s anointed is before him” (1 Samuel 16:6 ESV). But he was wrong. God responded to Samuel with one of the most revealing statements in the entire Bible.

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

Saul, Israel’s first king, had been chosen based on sight. He is described as “a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2 ESV). But looks can be deceiving. And Samuel had allowed himself to be deceived by Eliab’s outward appearance. But it is important to remember what God had commanded Samuel to tell Saul: “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14 ESV). This time, the selection process was going to be different. No more kings by consensus. God was looking for a man of character, not stature.

So Samuel had Jesse parade each of his sons in front of him, but one after the other, God repeatedly rejected them, forcing Samuel to announce, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one” (1 Samuel 16:8 ESV). The time came when Jesse ran out of sons and Samuel held the flask of anointing oil in his hands – unused. Samuel, a bit perplexed, asked Jesse if he had any other sons, and Jesse responded, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11 ESV).

There is a lot of conjecture as to why David was not invited to the festivities to begin with. The passage does not indicate that Jesse knew the purpose behind Samuel’s visit. But when Samuel invited Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice, David was left out in the fields to tend the flocks. He was the youngest, the low man on the totem pole. While all his brothers were being consecrated, he was left to care for the family’s livestock.

It is interesting to note that when Jesse informed Samuel about David, he said, “he is keeping the sheep.” The Hebrew word is ra`ah and it can literally be translated, “he is shepherding the sheep.” David was faithfully caring for and protecting the helpless sheep. He was doing his job to feed, guide, and nurture those who had been placed in his care. In Psalm 78, we are given a glimpse into the shepherd heart of David, the one who was about to be anointed the next king of Israel.

He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand. – Psalm 78:70-72 ESV

God was going to choose David because of his heart, not because he was handsome. God was going to anoint David the next king of Israel, not because he was famous, but because he was faithful. Yes, he was the last in line of all the sons of Jesse, but he was far from the least in the eyes of God.

There is a song written by Kittle L. Suffield that sums up the situation with David quite nicely.

Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

David was left in the field by his father. But he was not left out of God’s plan for the future of Israel. David was an afterthought in his father’s thinking, but he would be thought worthy by God to become the shepherd of the flock of God. David was unknown and insignificant, shepherding sheep in the fields of Bethlehem. But God was about to do something with his life, the likes of which neither he nor his father could have ever imagined.

2 Chronicles 18

Sheperdless Sheep.

So Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.'” ­– 2 Chronicles 18:16 NLT

When it came time for Macaiah to deliver his word of prophesy from God to Ahab, what he had to say was somewhat strange and rather cryptic. God had given him a vision in which he had seen the people of Israel represented by sheep who were wandering without a shepherd. Why? Because their shepherd had been killed. It is a sad image of helplessness and hopelessness. Without a shepherd, sheep are completely defenseless and lacking in any ability to fend for themselves. They lack leadership and end up wandering all over the place, susceptible to predators, injury and death. It seems that from the context of the message, both God and Macaiah are more concerned about the state of the sheep than what happened to the shepherd. Even Ahab gets it that the vision does not bode well for him. He is going to die. And his death will have dire consequences on the people of Israel. But he doesn’t care. All he can think about is himself. He is self-centered, self-promoting, and self-worshiping. His world revolves around himself and his own desires.

But God has a love for his sheep. In fact, He uses that metaphor throughout the Scriptures, often referring to His people as His sheep. When Moses knew that he was not going to be able to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land, he asked God to provide a new leader to do the job: “O LORD, the God of the spirits of all living things, please appoint a new leader for the community. Give them someone who will lead them into battle, so the people of the LORD will not be like sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27:16-17 NLT). Years later, when the people of Israel were living in exile in Babylon, God would prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. Though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, along with their right to feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey” (Ezekiel 34:8-10 NLT). The kings and prophets of Israel had failed to care for God’s sheep. He had placed them under their protection and given them responsibility for their well-being. Now the people of Israel were literally scattered, living in captivity in the land of Babylon.

But God would not leave His sheep sheperdless or defenseless. He would intervene. “I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers in all the places where people live. Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in lush mountain pastures. I myself will tend my sheep and cause them to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes — feed them justice!” (Ezekiel 34:11-16 NLT).

God cares for His sheep. He sent His own Son to help rescue and redeem His lost sheep from captivity to sin. When Jesus came, He saw the great need among the people of Israel. “He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 NLT). He even referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd, saying, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will leave the sheep because they aren’t his and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he is merely hired and has no real concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NLT).

Ahab had neglected the sheep. He had abandoned his responsibility as a shepherd of God. And most the kings to follow him would do the same thing. The people of God would suffer for years due to lousy leadership and irresponsible shepherding. But God never abandoned them. He continued to act as their Great Shepherd, watching over them and ultimately rescuing them from captivity. And God has cared for us as well, rescuing us from captivity to sin and leading us back into His fold through the efforts of His Son, the Good Shepherd. Where Ahab and others like him had failed, God would succeed. He would be the shepherd the people needed. He would provide the care, comfort, protection and provision they needed. And He still does.

Father, You are the Great Shepherd and You care for me each and every day of my life. You watch over me in ways that I can’t even see. You provide for me in ways that go unnoticed by me. While men may fail me, You never do. Thank You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men