Ephesians 4:7-16: Spiritual gifts – pastor teacher (king David the shepherd).
Tuesday November 16, 2021
Pastor-teacher (shepherd and teacher). Poimeno (pastor) from a root meaning to protect, and didaskalos means teacher.
I’d like to start and end this doctrine of the pastor or shepherd with the Great Shepherd whom all are to mimic, the Lord Jesus.
Actually, we will begin with one of the clearest types of the Lord, His ancestor David. After the death of Saul, David was king of Judah only for several years. Then he was made king of all Israel, and upon his coronation, so to speak, the people give a proper description of the king of Israel.
The king is to be a shepherd of the people.
Jesus is the Great Shepherd and His predecessor and type, David, author of Psa 23, was to shepherd Israel, which is the rarest of qualities in a king; to care for, protect, provide for, and to care about their well-being more than his own.
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the Lord said to you,
'You will shepherd My people Israel,
and you will be a ruler over Israel.'"
Of course we know, as did they, that David was a shepherd of his father’s flocks throughout his formative years. Unfortunately, the English translations do not pull these lines out of the text and show them as poetic verse, which they clearly are. And, as we know of Hebrew poetry, the parallelism has the second line as an expansion of the first. Notice the mirroring of “you will” (“it is you”) in the first and second lines, which is a common Hebrew poetry tool. The ruler of Israel is to be a shepherd and that is what a king really is, or what he should be in the eyes of the Lord. This idea follows our Lord’s declaration that the greatest of you would be your servant, and as He said, that was in contrast to the world’s type of rulers.
David wanted to be a great shepherd for the people that God had given him, and for so much of his life he was, but there were times when he neglected his calling as shepherd.
A shepherd protects the flock, cares for them, will not let bad things happen to even one of them, feeds them, leads them, and does everything he can to maintain them as healthy and happy.
Before we simply describe this office in the church, like all the other gifts, it is important to see how they are all modeled in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen that He was sent from heaven, and so has the title apostle. He is the Prophet, and His prophecy edified all who believed and should have made the unbeliever fear. His constant teaching of the good news concerning Himself showed us evangelism. He is called teacher and He taught consistently to those in need, and selflessly, as in the last night of His first advent. He is the Great Shepherd, which revealed so wonderfully in Joh 10, we will end the doctrine with.
The shepherd is attentive to the needs of the flock, and not his own.
Again shepherding is impressed upon David, this time by God just before He promises David a Son that will sit on his throne forever.
Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'"' 8 "Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts," I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be ruler over My people Israel.
It is important to know that David desired to build a permanent house for the Lord, a temple of stone. It was a noble idea. God didn’t ask for anyone in Israel to do this. David would not be allowed to build it, though he would have the plans written out and the materials secured. God wouldn’t let him build it because he was a man of bloodshed. Solomon would build the temple.
But that is not the whole story of the permanent house. God says in vs. 7 that He never asked anyone to build Him a house, and we immediately think that by saying this He is praising David. There might be some of that, but by reading on we come to discover that God doesn’t need a house, but that He was going to build a permanent house for David.
“The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. 12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”
Mankind needs a house, not God. God would build it and give leaders who were to be shepherds. David’s trouble started when he forgot this.
And when did David’s trouble come? When the army went out to fight the Amorites, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.
David did not go out with the sheep as their shepherd.
A brief understanding of the situation helps us to understand the very important principle that is in these lines. It is important for shepherds as well as all of us.
After becoming king of all Israel, David and his army had taken Jerusalem and then not long afterward had had soundly defeated Israel’s great enemy, the Philistines. David was quickly ascending his height of success when Ammon became antagonistic to David’s kingdom. The war with Ammon is given special attention in Samuel’s narrative (chapters 10-11) because David’s great sin is tied to it.
Ammon was not alone in its war with Israel.
Ammon had several allies that were intent on war with Israel – Zobah, Syria, Maacah, Tob, Moab, and Edom. David first crushed every ally and Ammon retreated behind the walls of its capital, Rabbah.
Knowing this, we can then see that David is at the height of his glory as the greatest king Israel ever had. There are the spoils of victory and peace on every border. All that is left to do is to lay siege to Rabbah, which is a sure success. But rather than go with his army and finish it, David likely considers his able number two, Joab, and the rest of his great and battle-hardened mighty men to easily finish the job. They don’t need him. And in fact they didn’t, but that is not the point.
“Again success attended David. His army, having in its advance laid waste every town, appeared before Rabbah, the strong capital of Ammon. Here was the last stand which the enemy could make – or, indeed, so far as man could judge, was the last stand of David’s last enemy. Henceforth all would be prosperity and triumph! It was in the intoxication or hitherto unbroken success, on the dangerous height of absolute unquestioned power, that the giddiness seized David which brought him to his fall.” [Alfred Edersheim, Bible History]
Even when things seem relatively safe, the shepherd looks to the horizon for danger because he cares so much for his sheep.
Did the Lord say to us, “When things are good and easy I’m going to leave you. Don’t worry, I’ll come back when things heat up.”? No. He is always with us and the shepherd is always with the sheep.
By not going with his sheep, David puts his soul and his body in a place of great danger. The laying aside of his given responsibility due to a so-called rational decision put his soul in danger. Being home when the sheep were in the field in danger and exposure put his body in danger. It culminated in him taking another man’s wife and having the man murdered in an attempt to cover the sin.
The sins of Biblical heroes evince the authenticity and credibility of the Scriptural narratives. Legends make excuses or denial of guilt.
The Bible shows plainly the sins of its great heroes. Far different are the legendary accounts which seek to palliate the sins of Biblical personages, or even deny their guilt. Thus the Talmud denies the adultery of David on the ground that every warrior had, before going to the field, to give his wife a divorce, so that Bathsheba was free.
Accordingly, the climax of the Biblical hero is quickly followed by their decline as was the case of David, Moses, Aaron, and Elijah. Just when we think that their faith and courage are well beyond our own reach, we find that they are encompassed with the same infirmities as we are. How were they so successful at one time and not another? Divine grace is the only explanation for their success. For at almost the very moment when they turned to their own devices and turned their backs on God’s ways that they fell. There is one blessed exception to this rising and falling, our precious Lord and Savior. In His life, Jesus always moved in perfect holiness.