Who is a shepherd?
herdsmen, pastor, keeper, friend, companion
by Craig C. White
The Hebrew word râ‛âh (raw-aw’) is used 171 times in the Old Testament. It is translated into English as shepherd, herdsmen, pastor, feed, keep, friend, companion, and a few other things. In the Bible a shepherd is quite often a person who tends sheep. A shepherd is also a person who leads people. Most often a shepherd is a leader of the nation of Israel. A shepherd is a king or other national leader. Shepherds refer to numerous leaders at the national level.
Moses was the shepherd of Israel for forty years. He watched over Israel throughout their nomadic travel between Egypt and the land of Israel. Moses was not allowed to enter the land of Israel. He asked God to set another man over Israel after him. Joshua would be their watchman as they entered their land.
Num 27:15-17 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, 16 Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17 Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
Saul was the first king of Israel. Saul was a shepherd over the nation. David was the second king of Israel. In the verses below the Hebrew word râ‛âh (shepherd) is translated as feed. As you can see a shepherd should be a protector, a provider, and a king.
2Sa 5:1-3 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 2 Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
There are good shepherds and there are bad shepherds. In Isaiah below; Egypt and many other nations have gathered their armies to destroy Jerusalem. Shepherds can be leaders from other nations. These shepherds are against God.
Isa 31:4 For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
By the way, the scene described above occurs at the end of the Tribulation period. A small band of Jews are making a final stand on Mount Zion (The City of David; just south of the temple mount). When Jerusalem is overrun, Jesus will return to save the residue of Jewish survivors in the city. Please read my commentary titled “The last Jews in Jerusalem” also “Bible verses about Eagles Wings”.
Below, Jesus tends to the residue of Jewish survivors on Mount Zion. The word feed and the word shepherd are both the Hebrew word râ‛âh.
Isa 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Too often God calls the leaders of Israel bad shepherds. Instead of watching out for the safety of the nation, they are making themselves rich and serving themselves drinks.
Isa 56:10-12 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. 12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
Luckily today Israel has a few good shepherds. They keep watch diligently for the safety of Israel. One day that will change. During the seven year long Tribulation period Israel’s leaders will serve themselves and not serve the people. Ezekiel 34 is directed at Israel’s leaders.
Eze 34:2-8 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;
Israel’s leaders will feed themselves and not feed the people. That will be the case during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7). As we are anticipating Jesus’ return for his Church and the beginning of the tribulation period, we can watch and see if the bad shepherds of Israel come to power. They will allow the land of Israel to be divided and the people to be dispersed out of their homes. We have already begun to see this happen. Many Isreali leaders support dividing their land among their enemies.
After Jesus returns in power and judgment against Israel’s enemies he will also judge Israel’s bad shepherds and finally give good shepherds to watch over his people.
Jer 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
One day God will raise a wicked shepherd in Israel who will hand over his people for profit. Please read my commentary titled “Woe to the Idol Shepherd”. It teaches about a coming wicked Israeli leader. He is not the Antichrist, as most teach. The idol shepherd will be a rotten Israeli ruler.
We all wonder how the world is going to impose their “peace plan” on Israel. There is an Israeli leader coming who will not look out for the welfare of his land or of his people.