Ezekiel 34:2 Woe be to the shepherds of Israel... should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
"Nowhere are the shepherds of Israel defined, but the meaning seems quite clear. Shepherds are leaders, those to whose care God's children have been entrusted. In ancient Israel the leaders included the prophets, the priests, and the kings. With callings of prophecy, priesthood, and royalty, these individuals had been charged with the responsibility of presiding in the house of Israel and providing leadership within their respective spheres. Unfortunately, the Bible shows evidence for all-too-frequent corruption in each of these areas: most of the kings were wicked, many priests defiled themselves, and false prophets were popular. A few passages, in fact, list these three as a triad of wickedness: 'Her priests have violated my law. . . . Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves. . . . And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them' (Ezek. 22:26-28). 'Her princes within her are roaring lions. . . . Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary' (Zeph. 3:3-4). 'The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money' (Micah 3:11).
"These shepherds were not worthy of their callings, the Lord told Ezekiel, so God himself would become Israel's shepherd and gather his flock." (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 294)
I can tell you there is a vast difference between a drover and a shepherd: the shepherd leads the flock. This was the way the ancient shepherds of Israel did, and it is the way they do now in many of the eastern countries: and this is the way for shepherds to do with the flock of Christ.
If you undertake to drive people into heaven, you will have a job on hand. I would just as soon undertake to drive an antelope into Emigration Canyon. If we cannot lead them there, we cannot get them there at all; and if we should happen to drive a few through the gate, we should have to stand there with clubs in order to keep them there; for I can assure you that heaven is no place for any one who has to be driven in order to get him there. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 6: 234)
David O. McKay
Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by overruling, but willingly, not by constraint, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples, examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (Conference Report, April 1948, Afternoon Meeting 171 - 172)
Ye shepherds of Israel, feed the flock of God; and seek His pleasure and not your own, in all things; and teach the Saints to be subject to the powers that be, wherever they are. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 2: 108)
Shepherds of Israel, watch well your flocks. Keep them healthy and vigorous. Encourage good with kind and generous words, and fear not to deal with offenders or rebuke sin in a manner that corresponds with the nature thereof and also with the dignity of your high and holy calling. The great object is to be alive and awake to every duty, and to be "armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 6: 18)
I call upon all who hold this priesthood, the presiding officers of this stake, and the bishops, and the high council, to go forth and feed the flock. Take an interest in them. Did you ever lose a child, and the parting struck keenly into your souls? Transfer a little of this deep feeling to the interests of the Saints over whom you are called to preside, and in whose interests you have received the holy priesthood. Work for them, and do not confine your thoughts and feelings to your personal aggrandizement. The God will give you revelation, inspiration upon inspiration, and teach you how to secure the interests of the Saints in matters pertaining to their temporal and spiritual welfare. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 20: 372)
Thomas S. Monson
The hungry sheep do look up ready to be fed the bread of life... Are we prepared to feed the flock of God? It is imperative that we recognize the worth of the human soul, that we never give up on one of His precious sons. ("Priesthood Bound in Unity and Love," LDS Church News, 1989, 05/13/89)
Ezekiel 34:6 my flock was scattered... and none did search or seek after them
"Yes, we are to both 'search my sheep' (locate them) and then 'seek out' (bring back) less-active members and families, with unending and unqualified love." (Gardner H. Russell, "Touching the Hearts of Less-Active Members," Ensign, Nov. 1986, 27)
Carlos E. Asay
The "shepherds of Israel" were sorely chastised because they fed and clothed themselves but neglected to reach out to the scattered sheep. The indictment against the people of the Lord was as follows: "My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them." The Lord's response and resolve was: "I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out." (See Ezek. 34:1-11.)
It is crystal clear that members of the Church are expected to serve as God's watchmen and shepherds. If they don't raise the warning voice, who will? If they don't seek out the scattered and feed them living waters and nourishing truths, who will?
Nearly a century ago Orson F. Whitney made this timeless statement: "The obligation of saving souls rests upon every man and woman in this Church-if not with equal weight, at least proportionately, according to their strength, their time, their opportunities, their abilities; and they cannot get out from under this responsibility on the plea that it belongs only to such and such persons. Did not the Lord say, through Joseph the Seer, at the beginning of this work, 'Behold, it is a day of warning, and not of many words: Therefore, let every soul that is warned, warn its neighbor'?" (The Seven M's of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 3)
Ezekiel 34:11 Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out
"Ezekiel likened the exiled Israelites' situation to that of scattered sheep. The scattering had taken place because their shepherds had been careless and had exploited the sheep. (See Ezek. 34:1-10.) But God himself would replace those careless shepherds with his constant care. He, as any good shepherd, would seek out the sheep, bind up their bruises, and bring them home again.
"This metaphor of God as a compassionate shepherd provides background for understanding the many references Jesus made to Israel as lost sheep and to himself as the Good Shepherd. (See Matt. 18:12-14; John 10:11-18.) Christ is the shepherd both to the wandering individual and to His scattered people, and the message of hope in Ezekiel's words applies both to the one lost sheep and to the straying flock." (Keith H. Meservy, "Ezekiel, Prophet of Hope," Ensign, Sept. 1990, 59)
"The Lord is the Good Shepherd, who cares for his sheep. As he said during his mortal ministry, 'What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine, and go into the wilderness after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, and saith unto them, Rejoice with me; for I found my sheep which was lost' (JST Luke 15:4-6; KJV Luke 15:5).
"The gathering is like this shepherd, who leaves safely in the fold those sheep that have already been found and then goes forth to find those that are lost. The language of this passage tells us of the commitment and loving care the Lord has for his sheep. He will search for them and seek them out; he will seek them and deliver them; he will bring them out from the people and will gather them and will bring them to their own land and will feed them. Their pasture will be good; their fold will be good; they will lie down in safety (see also Jer. 23:3; Jer. 31:10). Through Nephi we have this wonderful promise: 'He gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture' (1 Ne. 22:25)." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 79)
Ezekiel 34:17-22 as for you, O my flock...
The foreboding phrase, "As for you, young man..." always seems to precede some stern words from an angry parent. Similarly, the Lord is angry with his sheep. He is not willing to lay all the blame for the apostasy of Judah on the shepherds, the priests, prophets, and elders. He has a few words to say to the sheep themselves. He reminds them of their responsibilities, warning them of impending judgment-that he will judge between the good cattle and the bad cattle, between the fat and the lean. Figuratively, the rebellious and apostate sheep are likened to cattle that tread down their own pastures, contaminate their own drinking water, bully the smaller sheep, and persecute the diseased. The result of their ungrateful rebellion is their own scattering.
Ezekiel 34:24 my servant David a prince among them
"There is no mystery about the identity of the 'David' mentioned here. These passages refer to Jesus Christ, who was a descendant of David in the flesh and who is and ever will be the true Shepherd and King of Israel. To the ancient Israelites, David embodied the very essence of kingship for several reasons: he was appointed by revelation from God, during his reign Israel and Judah were united as one nation under one king, he ruled as a powerful and popular monarch, he defeated all enemies and introduced a period of peace and prosperity, and the Lord's sanctuary was among the people in his day. These things came to mind whenever David's name was mentioned, and they provided for later Israelites not only the reminiscence of a past golden age but also the longing for a future age that would be even more glorious. Thus the name David took on symbolic significance and was applied to Israel's millennial King. He would be, as it were, a second King David, who would restore the glories of the past to which later generations of oppressed Israel looked with longing." (Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 296)
"David (c. 1000 B.C.) remains today one of the most renowned Old Testament figures. His personality, spiritual sensitivity, creative abilities, military victories, and leadership carried him to the pinnacle of popularity. He had the potential to become an ideal king, but his kingship deteriorated after his adultery with Bathsheba and his involvement in Uriah's death. However, prophecy states that a model ruler in the last days will be 'raised up' from David's lineage.
"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that 'the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage' (TPJS, p. 339). Elder Orson Hyde, in his dedicatory prayer on the Mount of Olives, October 24, 1841, prophesied that the Jews would return to Jerusalem and that in time a leader called David, 'even a descendant from the loins of ancient David, [would] be their king' (HC 4:457).
"This predicted figure corresponds to a promised messianic servant. Hosea, speaking shortly before the loss of northern Israel, foretold that Israelites would return in the latter days 'and seek the LORD their God, and David their king' (Hosea 3:5). Jeremiah prophesied of Israel and Judah's future righteousness, and of 'David their king, whom I [the LORD] will raise up unto them' (Jer. 30:9; cf. 23:5; 33:15-22). And in Ezekiel it is written, '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' (Ezek. 34:23-24; cf. also 44:1-3)." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 360)