Feed your people with your rod, the flock of your heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the middle of Carmel…
The prophet gives an account of the state of the professing, visible Church, which he looks upon to be like unto a field or vineyard after the harvest is past and the vintage over. God never leaves a professing Church to be a wilderness, unless upon the utmost apostasy; but He many times leaves them to be as a field after harvest, or a vineyard after the vintage. He takes down the hedge, He suffers the wild beasts to come in, lets persons spoil at their pleasure; but there will come a time of culture again, when He will have fruit brought forth to His praise. The prophet says that those who were good were very few; and that those who were evil were very bad. When this is the condition, inevitable destruction lies at the door of that place or nation. If either of these be otherwise, there is yet hope. This being the state and condition of the people of the land, the prophet makes in the name of the Church a threefold application of himself —
1. To God. "I will look unto the Lord."
2. To her enemies. Who is this enemy? Wherein did she show her enmity?
3. To himself. "I will bear the indignation," etc.Here is a very becoming frame under the present state of affliction. In this state and condition, the prophet puts up this request, "Feed Thy people with Thy rod." In these words we have —
I. WHAT IS PRAYED FOR. The rod is the sign of the shepherd. Three things in the feeding of God's people —
1. That God would supply their spiritual and temporal wants.
2. That God, in that state which is coming upon them, would give them pledges, singular pledges of His own tenderness and love.
3. By "feeding" is intended rule, protection, deliverance. The shepherd has to preserve his flock from all evil.
II. THE ARGUMENTS OF FAITH TO BE PLEADED IN THIS CASE.
1. They were the people of God —
(1) Upon election.
(2) By purchase and acquisition.
(3) By covenant.
2. They were "the flock of Thine heritage." They are a "flock." And as such they are helpless, harmless, useful — useful, because a secret blessing goes with them; by reason of their good example; and by reason of their industry. They are "the flock of God's heritage." As such, if God take not care of it, no one else will. It is the heritage of Him whom the whole world looks upon as their greatest enemy.
3. The third argument is taken from their state and condition. The first argument pleads God's glory, His love and faithfulness. The second pleads God's interest. The third pleads God's pity and compassion. They dwell "solitarily," that is disconsolately. "In a wood," that is, ins dark and entangled condition.
( J. Owen, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
WEB: Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your heritage, who dwell by themselves in a forest, in the midst of fertile pasture land, let them feed; in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.