Pack your bags and prepare to leave;
the siege is about to begin.
18 For this is what the Lord says:
“Suddenly, I will fling out
all you who live in this land.
I will pour great troubles upon you,
and at last you will feel my anger.”
19 My wound is severe,
and my grief is great.
My sickness is incurable,
but I must bear it.
20 My home is gone,
and no one is left to help me rebuild it.
My children have been taken away,
and I will never see them again.
21 The shepherds of my people have lost their senses.
They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord.
Therefore, they fail completely,
and their flocks are scattered.
22 Listen! Hear the terrifying roar of great armies
as they roll down from the north.
The towns of Judah will be destroyed
and become a haunt for jackals.
23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.
24 So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.
Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you--
on the peoples that do not call upon your name.
For they have devoured your people Israel;
they have devoured and consumed them,
making the land a desolate wilderness.
The “shepherds” are the spiritual leaders, including the king, the priests, and the prophets.
The shepherd analogy is the pivotal analogy of the Old Testament for God’s relationship to his people. This term is the personal analogy used by Jesus in the Gospels. He said: “I am the good shepherd.” It is the proper analogy used in the epistles to describe the role of the pastor. Jeremiah uses a stunning word in Hebrew to describe these shepherds: ba’ar – “stupid, senseless.” The word is used of an animal that is deficient in moral and spiritual things. It refers to those who do not fear the Lord or desire his wisdom. They are senseless and stupid. Jeremiah would agree with Forrest Gump: “stupid is as stupid does.” How did this deplorable condition occur? They became stupid because they did not darash, “seek” the Lord. This word is the focal point of the verse. It occurs 165 times in the OT, mostly in the sense of seeking after the Lord. It means “to seek with diligence.” Three primary aspects are observed in the various contextual uses of this word.
There is the volitional aspect. Ezra 7:10 – “Ezra determined in his heart to seek the law of the Lord….” There is the emotional aspect. Psalm 119:10: “with all my heart I have sought you.” There is the intellectual aspect. Isaiah 34:16 – “Seek from the book of the Lord.” Darash denotes the element of “research, investigation, study.” Two consequences follow from not “seeking” the Lord. First, the shepherds shall not sachal – “prosper.” This word denotes the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in wise action and use of practical common sense. The end result: success. But in Jeremiah 10:21, the shepherds have no success. In fact, all their flocks will be putz (poots) – “scattered,” a favorite word of Jeremiah.
---David Allen; Stupid Shepherds and Scattered Sheep 8.21.19
God created man to have great aspirations for progress in all spheres of his endeavours. Man engages himself in unceasing search for material things upon which he depends for relief and change of circumstances. However, it is regrettable that these ways of man generally carry him from one trouble into another and into fruitless directions.Jeremiah laments the decision of the Lord to sling out the inhabitants of the land, to cause them distress and grief. According to our text, the north country was to be used by God to make Judah desolate and a den of dragons for their impenitence and hardness of heart. Even their pastors had become brutish and refused to seek the Lord and were all scattered abroad. Jeremiah reminded God of the directionless state of man without His assistance and mercy. Man’s effort will continue to be futile except he receives help from God. In his natural state, he cannot obey God perfectly or meet His high standard, though he may be kind and humanitarian. For him to find God and be in the right direction, he must be a new creature in Christ and discard old sinful lifestyles (2 Corinthians 5:17). To have the new birth experience, he must renounce his waywardness, repent, confess his sins wholeheartedly and receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. It is only when a person discovers Christ and His saving power that the secret of the right path of life is revealed to him. The love of God fills the heart to do His will as angels in heaven, with no pleasure for the flesh and the world. As with salvation experience, sanctification and baptism of the Holy Spirit are instantaneous. God roots out the adamic nature to plant His divine nature, which directs one’s life positively on earth to serve Him and take overcomers to His kingdom at last. --Pastor W. F. Kumuyi ; Flatimes: Directionless Man 9.7.23