Jeremiah 10:21: For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, And have not sought the Lord; Therefore they shall not prosper, And all their flocks shall be scattered.
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.