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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Ezekiel 34

 

 

Verses 11-25

Ezekiel 34:11-12. For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

What a glorious promise! Christ’s elect run hither and thither, in the darkness of their ignorance, into sin of every kind, but he will find every one of them out. There is no jungle so thick but Christ will track his own through it; There are no bogs of sin so dangerous but Christ will traverse them and find every lamb of his flock. And if through your backslidings, O people of God, you have wandered far from him, yet he perceives you with that eye which sees in the dark as well us in the light; and he will follow after you and bring you back. Blessed be his name!

Ezekiel 34:13; Ezekiel 34:15. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.

A beautiful image of that peace of mind, that complete repose, that perfect content, that sweet satisfaction, that divine fullness, which is the work of the Spirit of God in the hearts of believers when they are gathered to Christ.

Ezekiel 34:16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

It is a sweet thing, then, to be one of the needy ones of the flock because you see all the promises run that way, but, if we feel ourselves to be very strong and great, we are in a dangerous state, for then there is no promise for us. The only word concerning us is — “I will destroy the fat and the strong.”

Ezekiel 34:17-18. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?

Truly there are some vainglorious Christians who not only will not receive the gospel themselves, but actually find fault with it, insinuate doubts into the minds of others, and prevent the simple-minded people of God feeding on the pasture-which the Lord provides for them. See one of the evils of being great and strong in your own esteem; you are pretty sure then to despise the very pasture which was quite good enough for you when you were weaker and feebler. That very truth of Jesus Christ which was marrow and fatness to you, when you were hungry, comes to be despised as the manna was by the children of Israel when they called it “light bread.” There is no savour in it that you should desire it. Blessed blessed hunger that makes the word of God to be always sweet.

Ezekiel 34:19-25. And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord God unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 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. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.

What perfect assurance for Christ’s flock when, in the very place where the wolf once ranged, they shall be able to lie down and sleep in perfect safety. Happy people, with all their weakness, who have divine strength to be their protection. O my soul, seek no other strength than this, but learn thou the apostle’s logic and his true Christian philosophy so that, like him, trusting in the Mighty Shepherd, you will be able to say “When I am weak, then am I strong.”

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 23, Isaiah 40:9-11, Ezekiel 34:11-25.


Verses 11-27

Ezekiel 34:11. For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

Here is a divine One come to seek and to save. The shepherds had neglected and scattered the flock. Now God takes it out of their hands, and he says, “I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.”

Ezekiel 34:12. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

He has a chosen people redeemed unto himself by blood, and though they have wandered in the cloudy and dark day of their depravity and ruin, yet will he seek for them with ceaseless care, and bring them back with mighty power, until he has put them into his fold again.

Ezekiel 34:13. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

This shall yet be done to Israel after the flesh; it is being done to Israel after the spirit, to whom these promises in their fullness belong. By the mountains of his immutable promise, by the rivers of his Spirit’s influences, shall his people be fed.

Ezekiel 34:14. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.

When God works, he does nothing by halves, nothing scantily. There shall be a pasture, and it shall be fat; his people shall feed; they shall feed until they lie down in the pasture through very satiety; through the plenitude of his feeding they shall rest.

Ezekiel 34:15. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.

Happy sheep that have such a guardian! Happy believer if you are realizing today the full meaning of this, “I will feed my flock.” Only God can do it, but he can do it very effectually until the heart is satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord.

Ezekiel 34:16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

Men that are proud and lifted up shall meet with no blessing, but such as feel their poverty, their weakness, their nothingness, shall be the favored ones of God. Cannot some of you poor lost ones, driven-away ones, broken ones, and sick ones, lay hold upon this promise? You may see daylight through it, however dark your condition may be. God saith, “I will,” and you may depend upon it. He will make it good. There is never an “I will” of Jehovah that shall fall to the ground.

Ezekiel 34:17-18. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feel the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?

Sometimes when God’s people get very strong in themselves, they grow proud, and they find great fault; precious truth is not good enough for them unless it is very daintily spoken; they have eaten, and now they tread down the pasture and spoil it for others. This may seem a very small offense, but the great Shepherd does not think so; he looks with indignation upon these fat and strong, who foul the waters with their feet.

Ezekiel 34:19-21. And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord God unto them: Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad.

There is a way of doing that. Some are so big, so harsh, so wrapt up in themselves, that if they meet with a fellow-Christian in trouble, who has less confidence than themselves, who seems to be less useful than themselves, they are all for pushing, and poking, and driving, and doing I do not know what. Mind what you are at, when you meddle with the poor people of God. There are some doctrinal views, some pretensions to perfection, which just amount to this.

Ezekiel 34:22-23. Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them.

You know his name. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto my sheep eternal life.” You know that voice; it makes you glad to think he is so near you. “I will set up one shepherd.” That is glorious. He is of God’s setting up; Who can put him down again?

Ezekiel 34:23. And he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

The house of David shall still shepherd the people of God in the person of great David’s greater Son, whom we adore.

Ezekiel 34:24-25. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace,

With you that were lost, that were driven away, that were sick, that were broken.

Ezekiel 34:25. And will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land:

So he will. There were once more wolves than sheep; now there are more sheep than wolves; and the day shall come when the saints shall possess the land. “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Meanwhile, in the ways of God, “no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon.” “And they shall dwell safely in the wilderness,” where they seemed to be quite defenseless; there they shall be safe, and they shall “sleep in the woods,” in the very lairs of the wild beasts. There shall they be so safe that they shall feel safe, and shall even go to sleep. So “he giveth his beloved sleep.” “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing,” for God does not bless men that they may keep the blessing to themselves. If he blesses them he makes them a blessing, and their surroundings become a blessing.

Ezekiel 34:25-27. And they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

Oh! what a blessed day when all our yokes are broken by God’s own hand. We have worn them long enough — the sinful yoke, the legal yoke, the yoke of fear of man, a yoke heavy to bear — when they are all gone, and we can sing, “Thou hast loosed my bonds.”


Verses 11-31

The former part of the chapter contains a prophetic denunciation against the evil shepherds, — the men who fed not the flocks, but fed themselves, — who fouled, with their filthy feet, the waters where the flocks did drink, and trod upon the soft grass that otherwise might have afforded pasture for the sheep. After pronouncing judgment upon them, the Lord turns his thoughts to his sheep, and gives this precious promise, —

Ezekiel 34:11. For thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

The shepherds did not do this; they left the sheep to wander, and they were lost upon the mountains; but where men fail, God proves himself all-sufficient. My hearer, are you sitting under an unprofitable ministry? Then look to the Chief Shepherd, and not to the man who is unfaithful as an under-shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:12. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

It does not matter where the place is, the Lord will find out his sheep. If it be the castle of Giant Despair, he will find them there; if it be the worst dungeon in Doubting Castle, he will discover them there; they may have wandered upon the mountains of Despondency and Dejection; they may have been lost in the gorges of some dark valley of Desperation; but the Lord says, “I will both search my sheep, and seek them out.” And, mind you, he does not seek without finding. He discovers them, for he knows where they are. Oh, is not that a “cloudy and dark day” wherein we wander from God, and know not how to return unto him? But clouds and darkness are banished when we see the light of his face.

Ezekiel 34:13-15. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.

There is a blessed state of rest. God’s flock are not only to be fed, but they are to lie down while they feed. You have sometimes noticed a flock, at noontide, when the sun is hot, lie down upon the grass, and feed while they rest; that is what God’s people are to do. They are to lie down in tranquility of spirit; they are to lie down in a state of placid submission to his will, in a state of perfect security, — a state, not of idleness from the Master’s service, but still a state in which they know there is nothing for them to do for their own security, since Christ has accomplished the whole of their salvation. “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.” It is not every one of God’s people that has attained to this blessed experience, to be able to lie down in quiet confidence and rest.

“Thousands in the fold of Jesus,

This attainment ne’er can boast;

To his name eternal praises:,

None of these shall e’er be lost.”

Deeply graven on his heart their names remain. If ye are his sheep, yet even if ye have never come to lie down in peace, if ye cannot say, “I know and am confident,” and cannot rest while you feed; it is still comforting for you to feel that all Christ’s sheep are his sheep, whether they are lying down or standing up, or even wandering from him.

Ezekiel 34:16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, —

Ah, one little thinks, perhaps, that there should be such a thing as a poor sheep driven away; but it is sometimes true! A legal preacher drives Christ’s sheep away from Christ. A seeking soul would fain come to Jesus; but he is told that he must be something, and do something, before he can come. The poor sinner would trust in Jesus, but he is told first to get such-and- such a state of heart, he is told, “You are not the man who should be encouraged to come to Christ; you must have some deeper experience before you come.” But, blessed be God, the Good Shepherd says, if Satan has driven you away, or a legal preacher has driven you away, “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away,” —

Ezekiel 34:16. And will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

Those who boast of being fat and strong, who glory in themselves, these God will destroy; but the poor, weak, sick souls shall be fed with kindness tempered with judgment.

Ezekiel 34:17-18. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?

Oh, how many there are, even of God’s sheep, that foul the waters very much! They come up to God’s house, where, perhaps, they get some sweet morsel in the sermon; but there are some things in it with which they do not quite agree. They are walking home with some young Christian, and he is thinking how blessedly he felt under the sermon; while, perhaps, that old professor is grumbling all the time, and stirring up the waters with his feet. If the pasture is not good enough for you, you should let the lambs eat of it, without treading it down; others like it, though you may not; and if you do not like it, you can always leave it! But what is the use of finding fault with it, and treading it under your feet, and not letting others eat of it? It is a great crime, saith God: “Seemeth it a small thing” to tread it down under your feet, to spoil the spiritual enjoyment of your brethren? It seems, to some, of very little consequence what harm they do to God’s weak ones; but it is not so, it is a great sin to tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures, so you cavillers and critics had better beware.

Ezekiel 34:19-21. And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; —

I wish some people would not thrust so much with side and shoulder in their controversies with their brethren. It may be all very well for a man to be honest and faithful, and push with his horns; but there are some diseased ones who cannot stand rough usage when they are only coming in all simplicity to drink at the fountain of life.

Ezekiel 34:22-23. Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, —

There is only one Shepherd now. As for the rest of us, we are only under-shepherds; there is only one Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ; we are simply the men he employs to see after his sheep a little; but he is the Great Shepherd, and when he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory. “I will set up one shepherd over them,” —

Ezekiel 34:23-25. And he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.

Those who have seen the watching of flocks by night in the East, could give you quite a picture of the meaning of this verse. Sometimes the shepherds will sit down in the midst of bushes and briars that may grow at the side of the wood, and taking some of them for firewood, they will light a fire in the night; and when the wolves come around them, the sheep are quite safe. I have read of this in books of travel; and what a beautiful thing. It seems to sit, with the full moon shining down on the forest, and the fires alight, feeling that, notwithstanding all the wolves, the sheep are quite safe with the shepherds there to protect them! So is it with God’s people; they must always expect, while they are in the wood of this world, to have a scratch now and then from the briars and thorns; but “they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.” God will always take care of his own, for “the Lord knoweth them that are his.”

Ezekiel 34:26. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

My earnest prayer is that this church may be a great blessing to all who are around us, and I firmly believe it will be so, by God’s grace.

Ezekiel 34:27. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

The Jews will know that God is the Lord when they shall return to their own land. The poor tired sinner, best of all knows that God is God when he gets the bands of his neck broken off him. By nature, we all have bands about our necks; it is only God who takes them off. Pilgrim, you know, lost his burden when he looked at the cross; it rolled away down into the sepulcher; and if you had asked him then, “Is God, God?” “Yes,” he would have said, “otherwise, I should not have had the bands of my neck loosed.” No man who has had the bands taken off him, will ever doubt that there is a God. Let him experience that holy calm which springs from the fact of his having been set at gospel liberty, and he will say, “This is the work of God; no man, no human power could have done it.” I can never be an Arminian as long as I feel myself a sinner. I am obliged to come back to this: Lord, I must be saved by sovereign grace, or not at all. A single day’s experience is enough to take all the self-conceit out of a Christian, if the Lord should leave him to his own unaided strength. We best know that God is God when we have had the bands broken off our necks. How many are there sitting here with bands on their necks; — slaves, wearing the yoke upon their shoulders? They cannot see it, but it is there, nevertheless. Who is there who can say, “My bands are broken from my neck”?

“’My sins are drown’d, as in a flood,

Of Jesus’ pure and matchless blood.’

“I am finally discharged; the bands are broken off my neck, verily, God is God.”

Ezekiel 34:28-29. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, —

Jesus is “a plant of renown,” because you may go to him at all times, and you will always find fruit on him. That is more than you can say of any other plant. You may go to him, and you will always find the sort of fruit you want; is he not “a plant of renown”? You will find healing virtue in his leaves, and satisfying fruits hanging in clusters upon him. He is “a plant of renown,” because his father planted him; because he has food enough for all his saints, and a gracious variety for all their tastes; because he will blossom through eternity; because of the multitude who sit under his shadow, and rejoice therein, He is “a plant of renown” to his people, for under his shadow they are begotten and brought forth; the greatest transactions of their lives have taken place beneath the shadow of that old tree, “the plant of renown.”

Ezekiel 34:29-30. And they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God.

Thus shall they know it. Do you know it? Has God told it to you? Have you the witness of the Spirit within your spirit that you are born of God? My hearers, never be satisfied till you get this; for you will never be truly at rest until you know that you are God’s people, and until you can each one say, “My God, my God, thou art my God.”

Ezekiel 34:31. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.

“However much I may have uplifted you, you are only men, after all; but I am not a man, I am your God,” saith the Lord.. And we rest more upon what God is, than upon what man is, for he “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or think.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Ezekiel 34:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/ezekiel-34.html. 2011.

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