I Will Smite The Shepherd

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” (Zech 13:7).

The word ‘shepherd’ literally means ‘a feeder.’ The sheep have good care if the keepers have a personal interest in the well-being of the animals, but when they are attended by a hireling the flocks may be neglected or abused (John 10:12-13). The chief responsibility of the shepherd is to see that the sheep find plenty to eat and drink. Summer and winter, the flocks must depend upon foraging for their sustenance (Ps 23:2) under the watchful care of the shepherd.

The use of the word “shepherd” to indicate a spiritual overseer is familiar to Bible readers (Ps 23:1; Eccl 12:11; Ezek 34:23; John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-4). “Sheep without a shepherd” typified individuals or nations who had forgotten God (Ezek 34:5-8; Matt 9:36).

Jesus is spoken of as the good shepherd (John 10:14); chief shepherd (1 Peter 5:4); great shepherd (Heb 13:20); the one shepherd (John 10:16). “He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young” (Isa 40:11). The little ones (the sheep) the Lord turned his hand against were the apostles. They were scattered. In God’s hand they fulfilled the prophecy, but it was a hard, shameful lesson.

Initially, Peter showed his weakness by rebuking the Master (Mt 16:20-22). He must have been a mighty man of valor to endure all the trials and still keep trying. Unwillingly, he was full of contradictions. His faith in Christ was strong when he and the other disciples heard that one of them would betray him. Each wondered whether he himself would do it. When Jesus quoted the prophecy in Zechariah 13:7 and applied it to the apostles, Peter again contradicted Christ saying he would never deny him. He led the way for the other apostles and they all denied they would fulfill the prophecy (Mt 26:35).

What was the problem? The apostles considered their own faithfulness rather than the prophecy of God. If they had just stopped to think that God had prophesied, and God’s prophecy never fails. How many times are we the same way? God promises to provide our needs if we seek the kingdom first (Mt 6:33), and yet we store up treasure on earth for the last days as though he never said a word (Mt 6:19-21). When Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would deny him three times came to pass, Peter again thought of his own weakness and went out and wept bitterly (Mt 26:75; Luke 22:61-62). Before he and the other ‘sheep’ were scattered, Peter failed many times.

Peter’s salvation was in Christ, and Christ prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. Witnessing the empty tomb and Jesus’ appearance and disappearance after the resurrection, Peter was one of the first who believed. Surely, the sheep were scattered, but that was not the end of the story. The sheep were gathered again by the One who scattered them. Ultimately He blessed them for their faith and gave them power far greater than any man but Christ himself had ever had to that time. God had a work to be done, and whether or not the sheep were scattered, God used them to do that work. Peter continued to make mistakes, but, like a little child, he always humbled himself to accept his correction. What a beautiful example Peter shows of humility that trusts implicitly and obeys the trusted one.

Beth Johnson

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The King James Version.

Published in The Old Paths Archive