Names of God – Jehovah Ra’ah
If you grew up in church, pretty much any denomination, you memorized the 23rd Psalm at some point in your life. It starts out, Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” The Hebrew word for “The Lord is my shepherd” is “Jehovah Ra’ah”.
So, what does it mean to be our shepherd? I mean, all throughout the Bible, it refers to Christ as our shepherd. Why does He call Himself our shepherd? Let’s start by looking at this short psalm that talks about how He is our shepherd, and what that looks like.
The first thing he says in this verse is, “I have all that I need.” This doesn’t mean that Christ will give us everything we want, it means that, when we have the good shepherd, He is all we need. When you have a good shepherd you have food, you have shelter, you have protection. But most of all, we have Him, and that’s truly all that we need.
The very next verse says, Psalm 23:2 “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” So, the first thing it says is that our Shepherd keeps us safe and makes sure we have food and water. Being in an open meadow, the shepherd can watch for any predators that might be coming. So, the meadow provides a place where He can protect us, as well as an ample source of food and water. When you have the good shepherd, you have rest.
He goes on to say, Psalm 23:3 “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” He renews my strength… Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Also, in Galatians 6:9 it says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Our shepherd gives us that strength…that perseverance to keep going so that in the end, we can receive the blessing from Him. This verse goes on to say that He guides us along the right paths, which brings honor to Him. Let’s not forget that our only purpose is to glorify Him, Isaiah 43:7 “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” So, He guides us for His glory. Michelle and I claimed Psalm 48:14 as our wedding verse, “For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.” And He has, through more moves than I care to count in seven different states, and He has been our guide every step of the way. Let me tell you, whoever says the Christian life is boring, has never tried it. When you have the good shepherd, you have strength.
Then he says, Psalm 23:4, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Because the Lord is our shepherd, we don’t have to fear anything. Everywhere you look today you see the No Fear gear. It’s on clothes and on car windows. But, as Christ followers, we truly have nothing to fear, because His rod and staff protect and comfort us. In fact, the Bible tells us not to fear 365 times, I think that’s something we need to listen to. When you have the good shepherd, you have true peace, as we saw in the last post, Jehovah Shalom.
The next verse says Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.” This first part is another picture of His protection. We can feel so safe with our shepherd, that we can sit down and feast, even when surrounded by our enemy. David Guzik said this about this passage, “David gives a beautiful picture: “table” suggests bounty; “prepare” suggests foresight and care; “before me” suggests the personal connection.” He is our shepherd. A shepherd cares for and loves his sheep…it is personal! He then says, “You anoint my head with oil.” In the Bible, the anointing of oil is always a sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so the shepherd gives us the Holy Spirit. He ends this verse by saying, “My cup overflows with blessings.” When you have the good shepherd, you are blessed beyond comprehension. In Ephesians 1:3 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” The good shepherd blesses us with EVERY SPIRITUAL blessing in the heavenly realms! And, spiritual blessings are always better than physical blessings. Charles Spurgeon said this, “Our thanks are due to God for all temporal blessings; they are more than we deserve. But our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings. A new heart is better than a new coat. To feed on Christ is better than to have the best earthly food. To be an heir of God is better than being the heir of the greatest nobleman. To have God for our portion is blessed, infinitely more blessed than to own broad acres of land. God hath blessed us with spiritual blessings. These are the rarest, the richest, the most enduring of all blessings; they are priceless in value.”
The last verse in this passage says, Psalm 23:6 “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Okay, check this out. He says that “Surely” …not maybe…goodness and unfailing love, that love we talked about in the blog titled “A More Perfect Way”, will pursue me. Did you get that? He’s not saying you’ll stumble upon it, he’s not saying you’ll find it, he’s saying that His goodness and Agape love will pursue you…wow! The last thing he says is, “and I will live in the house of the Lord forever”. This isn’t talking about when we get to heaven. Forever starts now! When you are with the good shepherd, you are in the house of the Lord, no matter where you are. When you have the good shepherd, you have goodness, you have unfailing love, and you have a home.