These shepherds do not take care of their sheep (Ezek 34:3-34:4)

“You eat the fat.

You clothe yourselves

With wool.

You slaughter

The fatlings.

But you do not

Feed the sheep.

You have not strengthened

The weak ones.

You have not healed

The sick ones.

You have not bound up

The injured ones.

You have not brought back

The strayed ones.

You have not sought

The lost ones.

You have ruled them

With force.

You have ruled them

With harshness.”

Yahweh complained, via Ezekiel, to these shepherds that they ate the good fat things and clothed themselves with wool clothing. They slaughtered the fat livestock, but they did not feed the sheep. They did not strengthen the weak ones or heal the sick or injured sheep. They never brought back the straying or lost sheep. These shepherds ruled over the sheep with force and harshness.

The weakness of these false idol gods (Bar 6:36-6:40)

“These gods cannot

Save anyone

From death.

They cannot rescue

The weak

From the strong.

They cannot

Restore sight

To the blind.

They cannot

Rescue anyone

Who is in distress.

They cannot

Take pity

On a widow.

They cannot

Do good

To an orphan.

These things

Made of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver,

Are like stones

From the mountain.

Those who serve them

Will be put to shame.

Why then must

Anyone think

That they are gods?

Why call them gods?”

This diatribe against false gods continued with an attempt to show how impotent these gods are, since they cannot save anyone from death. They cannot rescue the weak from the strong. They cannot restore sight to the blind. They cannot rescue anyone in distress. They cannot take pity on a widow nor do any good for an orphan. They are made of wood, covered with gold or silver, like stones from a mountain. They cannot help those who worship them. They will be put to shame. How can anyone think that they are gods or call them gods? They are useless.

The weak (Sir 11:12-11:13)

“There are others

Who are slow.

They need help.

They lack strength.

They abound in poverty.

However,

The eyes of the Lord

Look kindly upon them.

He lifts them out of

Their lowly condition.

He raises up their heads.

Thus many are amazed.”

On the other hand, there are those who are weak and slow. They need help since they lack strength and live in poverty. The Lord sees this so he looks kindly on them. He lifts them up out of their lowly conditions. He makes them raise their heads, so that many people are amazed.

Care for the poor (Ps 72:12-72:14)

“He delivers

The needy when they call.

He delivers

The poor.

He delivers

Those who have no helper.

He has pity on the weak.

He has pity on the needy.

He saves the lives of the needy.

From oppression and violence

He redeems their life.

Precious is their blood in his sight.”

This ideal king helps the needy when they ask for help. He delivers the poor and those who have no one to help them. He has pity on the weak and the needy. He saves them from oppression and violence as he redeems their lives. Their blood is precious in his sight.

David rejoices in deliverance (Ps 35:9-35:10)

“Then my soul shall rejoice in Yahweh.

My soul shall exalt in his deliverance.

All my bones shall say.

‘Yahweh!

Who is like you?

You deliver the weak

From those who are too strong for them.

You deliver the weak and the needy

From those who despoil them.’”

David’s soul rejoiced in Yahweh. He exalted in his deliverance. All his bones would say “Who is like Yahweh?” Yahweh delivered the weak from the strong. He delivered the weak and the needy from the people who defiled them. Yahweh was the great deliverer.

The prayer of Judith for God’s help (Jdt 9:11-9:14)

“Your strength does not depend on numbers.

Your might does not depend on the powerful.

You are the God of the lowly.

You are the helper of the oppressed.

You are the upholder of the weak.

You are the protector of the forsaken.

You are the savior of those without hope.

Please, please, God of my father,

God of the heritage of Israel,

Lord of heaven and earth,

Creator of the waters,

King of all your creation,

Hear my prayer!

Make my deceitful words bring wound.

May they bruise those who have planned cruel things

Against your covenant,

Against your sacred house,

Against Mount Zion,

Against the house your children possess.

Let your whole nation and every tribe

Know and understand

That you are the God,

The God of all power and might.

There is no other who protects the people of Israel

But you alone!”

The prayer of Judith ends with this strong theological statement about the power of God. She seeks help from the all powerful God. The power of God cannot be enumerated. Our God is the God of the lowly, the oppressed, the weak, the forsaken, and the hopeless. He is the God of the heritage of Israel, the God of heaven and earth, the creator of water, the king of all creation. Judith asked that her prayer be heard. Her deceitful words will bruise those who are against God’s covenant, his sacred house, Mount Zion, and his children. Let everyone among all the tribes know that he is the God of power and might. No one protects Israel like God himself.