Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Covenant of Peace: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 34 with poem by Henry Constable, O Gracious Shepherd

Daily Readings
Psalm 98 I Samuel 4:16-22 Ezekiel 34 John 13

Daily Text: Ezekiel 34

Covenant of Peace
Three strophes make up this unitary prophecy: the first, the false shepherds, the second, the true shepherd and finally, the garden of peace. The David monarchy has in its own rapacious way, stripped the nation of its rights and its heritage. While not alone in sin, the officials are singled out for divine criticism. YHWH means to be the shepherd from this point on and bring the sheep back home, gathered from the various points of exile around the known world. Finally, in verse 23 the prophet begins a description of a covenant of peace, a garden of a place, led by God, assisted by David. Scholar’s dialogue about whether this is a messianic prophecy or an indication of a return of the legitimate dynasty, but whatever is meant, Ezekiel 34 signals here a new order of love and care, of beneficence and bounty. It is this new order that is signified by a new covenant, one that goes beyond the Levitical one. That one obviously has broken down with Jerusalem, and the people are ready for a renewed relationship with YHWH.

O Gracious Shepherd
Henry Constable


O gracious Shepherd! for Thy simple flock
By guileful goats to ravening wolves misled,
Who Thine own dear heart’s precious blood didst shed,
And lamb-like offered to the butcher’s block:
O gracious Shepherd! unremoving Rock
Of succour to all such as thither fled,
Respect one of Thy flock which followèd
These cursèd goats, and doth repentant knock,
To be with mercy taken to Thy fold.
I know Thy grace doth still for wanderers look;
I was a lost sheep once: dear Lord! behold,
And in compassion take me with Thy hook.
In one lost sheep new found, Thou dost rejoice;
Then know Thy sheep, which knows his Shepherd’s voice.

Collect for the Day
Lord God, we see your righteous rule in all your works, and we join our voices with the song of your whole creation in praising you, in and through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
[476:836:98 Psalm prayer]


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