July 31, 2019

The True Shepherd

Judges 21:15-25

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were . . . like sheep without a shepherd.

—  Matthew 9:36

Again the book of Judges shows that people desperately need a savior. Though they had asked God for direction before the war with Benjamin (Judges 20:18, 23, 28), Israel now took matters into their own hands again.

The Bible speaks honestly about human beings: all are unwilling to live by God’s direction for good, righteous, and just living. When the Bible turns to describe the history of God’s own people, we find that no one is without fault. The closing line of Judges says it all: “all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” And later, in the days of Israel’s kings, even those who were not described as doing “evil in the eyes of the Lord”— such as David, Hezekiah, and Josiah—were flawed.

Is any of us any different? Today we live in the reign of King Jesus, but in this New Testament age we read of lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3), sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:13-20), sneering at neighbors (James 2:3-4), and idolatry (Revelation 2:20). And then there are abuses against women and men, murders, and wars throughout church history.

The book of Judges exposes God’s people’s notorious tendency to ignore its Savior. After the death and resurrection of our true Savior and Shepherd, the good news is that King Jesus sees our self-inflicted misery. And by the power of the Spirit, he keeps us alive.

Lord Christ, you are the Shepherd of my body and soul. Keep my eyes from the seductions of sin, and grant me new life with you forever. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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