The last chapter god started discussing his healing of the split and scattered nation of Israel. This chapter enlarges on the theme with a more detailed and metaphorical overview of the history of Israel.
Two shepherds are compared. The surrounding nations, esp. Lebanon, Bashan and Jordan are treated as a group of shepherds who have been terrible. God is the good shepherd.
They would have devoured Israel: Israel were a flock marked for slaughter, but God used two staffs, Union and Favor, to protect them.
It’s told in two voices, both of whom seem to be the Lord. It works if you think of it like the Trinity… God can speak to himself. It occurs elsewhere too, like the opening of Psalm 110 “the Lord said to my Lord”. It’s a messianic prophesy, as we’ll see, so the conversing God did the mood.
The flock detest him, they fire him as shepherd. He breaks the first staff, favor and asks for his pay. What has Gods favor been worth to them? 30 pieces of silver as it turns out. The same price for Judas to betray Christ.
30 pieces of silver is the absurd trinkets we value higher than god: the good salary, the car, the house, the smartphone. It’s a lousy trade.
This money is thrown to the potters house, code for temple, returned there like Judas’s money. It’s God’s anyway. It’s ultimately worthless.
Then union is broken, a reference to the splitting of the kingdoms, and they are abandoned to shepherds who will use them as food.
For us, Christians, today, it’s a powerful view of the Topsy turvy world where the seemingly powerful and successful are actually sheep who have fired their good shepherd, trashed his favor, trashed the family bonds with their true father, for paltry return.
How urgent and wonderful is the gospel. Again, same as a few chapters ago, I come to regretting a sense of apology for Christianity: it’s the best thing that ever happened.