I will set up one Shepherd - my servant David - David, king of Israel, had been dead upwards of four hundred years; and from that time till now there never was a ruler of any kind, either in the Jewish church or state, of the name of David. This, then, must be some typical person; and from the texts marked in the margin we understand that Jesus Christ alone is meant, as both Old and New Testaments agree in this. And from this one Shepherd all Christian ministers must derive their authority to teach, and their grace to teach effectually.
By the kind providence of God it appears that he has not permitted any apostolic succession to be preserved, lest the members of his Church should seek that in an uninterrupted succession which must be found in the Head alone. The papists or Roman Catholics, who boast of an uninterrupted succession, which is a mere fable that never was and never can be proved, have raised up another head, the Pope. And I appeal to themselves, in the fear of God, whether they do not in heart and in speech trace up all their authority to him, and only compliment Christ as having appointed Peter to be the first bishop of Rome, (which is an utter falsity, for he was never appointed to such an office there, nor ever held such an office in that city, nor, in their sense, any where else); and they hold also that the popes of Rome are not so much Peter's successors as God's vicars; and thus both God and Peter are nearly lost sight of in their papal enumerations. With them the authority of the Church is all in all; the authority of Christ is seldom mentioned.
Yahweh having promised to be a Ruler of His people, the administration of the divine kingdom is now described, as carried on by One King, the representative of David, whose dominion should fulfill all the promises originally made to the man after God‘s own heart. Ezekiel does not so much add to, as explain and develope, the original promise; and as the complete fulfillment of the spiritual blessings, which the prophets were guided to proclaim, was manifestly never realized in any temporal prosperity of the Jews, and never could and never can be realized in any earthly kingdom, we recognize throughout the Sacred Volume the one subject of all prophecy - the Righteous King, the Anointed Prince, the Son and the Lord of David.
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.)
The blessings here foretold are especially those of the old covenant. The wilderness (or, pasture-country) and the woods, the places most exposed to beasts and birds of prey, become places of security. Under the new covenant Sion and the hills around are representative of God‘s Church; and temporal blessings are typical of the blessings showered down upon Christ‘s Church by Him who has vanquished the powers of evil.
A plant - Equivalent to the “Branch,” under which name Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesy of the Messiah. The contrast in this verse to hunger seems to favor the idea that the “plant” was for food, i. e., spiritual food, and in this sense also, applicable to the Messiah (compare John 6:35.)
The shame of the pagan - The shameful reproaches with which the pagan assail them.
Translate “Ye are my flock, the flock of my pasture (compare Jeremiah 23:1); ye are men, and I am your God.”
Christ applied these prophecies to Himself, and He showed the contrast between His own character and that of the leaders in Israel. The Pharisees had just driven one from the fold, because he dared to bear witness to the power of Christ. They had cut off a soul whom the True Shepherd was drawing to Himself. In this they had shown themselves ignorant of the work committed to them, and unworthy of their trust as shepherds of the flock. Jesus now set before them the contrast between them and the Good Shepherd, and He pointed to Himself as the real keeper of the Lord's flock. Before doing this, however, He speaks of Himself under another figure. DA 477.1
He said, “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” The Pharisees did not discern that these words were spoken against them. When they reasoned in their hearts as to the meaning, Jesus told them plainly, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” DA 477.2
Christ is the door to the fold of God. Through this door all His children, from the earliest times, have found entrance. In Jesus, as shown in types, as shadowed in symbols, as manifested in the revelation of the prophets, as unveiled in the lessons given to His disciples, and in the miracles wrought for the sons of men, they have beheld “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and through Him they are brought within the fold of His grace. Many have come presenting other objects for the faith of the world; ceremonies and systems have been devised by which men hope to receive justification and peace with God, and thus find entrance to His fold. But the only door is Christ, and all who have interposed something to take the place of Christ, all who have tried to enter the fold in some other way, are thieves and robbers. DA 477.3Read in context »