Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel
The title of a shepherd for the most part belongs to the Messiah, and who is expressly called the Shepherd and stone of Israel, as distinct from the God of Jacob, ( Genesis 49:24 ) and may be so called because he was to be, and was of Israel, according to the flesh, and sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and appointed by his Father as a Shepherd over them; and it is on the mountains of Israel he provides a good fold, and pasture for his sheep, ( Romans 9:4 Romans 9:5 ) ( Matthew 15:24 ) ( Ezekiel 34:23 Ezekiel 34:24 ) and it is for the spiritual Israel, his sheep, his elect, both among Jews and Gentiles, for whom he laid down his life; by which it appears that he is the good Shepherd, as he also is the great, the chief, the only one; though this character also may be given, and agrees unto God the Father, who rules, and governs, and feeds his people, his spiritual Israel, as a shepherd his flock; and who is addressed by his people, and is desired to "give ear" to their cries and prayers in their affliction and distress: God has an ear to hear his people's prayers, though sometimes they think he does not hear them; but he not only hears, but answers sooner or later, and in his own way; and the consideration of his character as a shepherd may be an encouragement to their faith, that he will hear, and will not withhold any good thing from them, ( Psalms 23:1-3 ) ( Psalms 95:6 Psalms 95:7 )
thou that leadest Joseph like a flock;
the posterity of Joseph, the same with Israel, the spiritual Israel, who are like a flock of sheep, a separate people, distinguished by the grace of God, and purchased by the blood of Christ; and as there is but one Shepherd, so one fold, and one flock, and that but a little one neither; and which is sometimes called a flock of slaughter, because exposed to the rage and fury of men; yet a beautiful one in the eye of Christ, which he undertook to feed: and this he leads on gently and softly, gradually, and proportionate to their strength, or as they are able to bear; he leads in and out, and they find pasture; he leads them out of their former state and condition, in which he finds them, out of the pastures of sin and self-righteousness into the green pastures of his love, grace, word, and ordinances:
thou that dwellest between the cherubim;
which were over the mercy seat, and were either emblems of angels, among whom Jehovah dwells, and is surrounded by them; by whom Christ was ministered to on earth, and now in heaven, and among whom he was when he ascended thither, and where they are subject to him: or of the two Testaments, which look to Christ, the mercy seat, and agree with each other in their testimony of him, and in other things; and where these are truly opened and explained, there the Lord dwells: or rather of the saints of both dispensations, who look to Christ alone for salvation, and expect to be saved by his grace; are both partakers of it, as they will be of the same glory; and among these the Lord dwells as in his temple; though it seems best of all to consider them as emblems of Gospel ministers, since Ezekiel's four living creatures are the "cherubim", ( Ezekiel 10:20 ) , and these the same with John's four beasts, or living creatures, who were certainly men, being redeemed by the blood of Christ; and were ministers, being distinguished from the four and twenty elders, ( Revelation 4:6-11 ) ( 5:8-14 ) and among these the Lord dwells, and with them he has promised his presence shall be unto the end of the world:
either God the Father, who dwelt between the cherubim, over the mercy seat, who sits upon a throne of grace, from whence he communes with his people and communicates to them; and then the request is, that he would shine forth in the perfections of his nature, as he has done in his Son, the brightness of his glory, and in redemption and salvation by him, where they are all illustriously displayed; and particularly in his lovingkindness through him, which has appeared and shone forth in the mission of Christ, and in giving him up for us all; and by granting his gracious presence unto his people in Zion, in his house and ordinances; see ( Psalms 1:2 ) , or the Messiah, the Shepherd of Israel, and the Leader of his flock, and under whom the living creatures and cherubim are, ( Ezekiel 1:26-28 ) , that he would shine forth in human nature; that this bright morning star would appear; that the dayspring from on high would visit men, and that the sun of righteousness would arise with healing in his wings; and that the glorious light of his Gospel would break forth, and the grace of God, the doctrine of it, appear and shine out unto all men, Jews and Gentiles.