Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 (NRSV)
Verse 11For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. Verse 12As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. Verse 13I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. Verse 14I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. Verse 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. Verse 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice. Verse 20Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Verse 21Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, Verse 22I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. Verse 23I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. Verse 24And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
During this very difficult year, and following a contentious election, we have seen how the people who lead us manage the unexpected surprise—often revealing more truth about their leadership skills than any other test could offer. We all long for a leader who would put us first. We want a leader who will search for us and rescue us and take care of us. Ultimately, though, that can be too much to expect from a human leader. At some point, we will discover that we need more than one person can provide. We need our God. As God said, God planned to set David as a shepherd over God’s people, but even David would never be God. Even as great a leader as David seemed to be, he still had some tragic flaws and the ability to become incredibly selfish. Let us not make the mistake of putting our leaders in the place of God.
Lord, forgive us for ever allowing a human to take your place in our hearts, even if only for a moment. Help us to discern between wisdom and foolishness and to know that we belong to you. Amen