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Psalm 23 and Feeding the Multitude

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Jesus’ feeding the multitude in Matthew 14:13-21 (also Matt 15) fulfills the prophetic words mentioned earlier in Matthew 2:6, “…[He] will shepherd my people Israel” (citing Mic 5:2).  Though one can see several different themes in Matthew highlighted in chapter 14, I think one that stands out the most is that of Jesus’ status as the Shepherd-King of God’s people.  Though the theme of the Lord as Shepherd is prominent in the Old Testament (such as in Ezekiel 34-35, or the Lord’s guidance during the Exodus) the most immediately relevant OT passage for Matthew 14 is Psalm 23.  The following are notable parallels between Psalm 23 and Matthew 14:

        1. The crowds follow Jesus as sheep follow a shepherd.  They see in Christ the promises of Psalm 23 in flesh and bone.  This is even more supported by 9:36, in which he “has compassion” on the crowds, because they are “like sheep without a shepherd” (see John 10 also).
        2. Jesus in Matthew 14:19 and the Lord of Ps 23 make the believer lie down on “green grass” (Mk 6:39).  They are also by the Sea of Galilee (Ps 23:2).
        3. Jesus is in the face of His enemies, who have just forced John the Baptist to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps 23:4).
        4. Even when threatened by His enemies, it is Jesus who prepares the banquet (Ps 23:4) for His people.
        5. The cup in Psalm 23 overflows (23:5), and the baskets in Matthew 14 overflow with bread.  Jesus’ meeting the crowd’s physical needs in Matthew points to His ability to satisfy them eternally.

Though this text is certainly multilayered, I think that the theme of Jesus as Shepherd of the people of God leads in prominence.  We consistently see Jesus presented as the Good Shepherd who fulfills God’s plan to gather His scattered people, recovering what was neglected and lost.

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Written by keywoodblog

October 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm

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