Sunday, October 9, 2022

Names of God: Jehovah-rohi, God our Shepherd

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 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. 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. 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.” - Psalm 23

A song written by David. David must’ve looked back on his life at a ripe old age, and looked back at all the ups and downs of his life, from being the youngest son of the family, while his brothers fought in the army, he was left alone to watch over the sheep.

From God raising him up and making him a hero of Saul’s army, to the incredible show-down with Goliath, and then leading Israel’s armies, then Saul’s growing jealousy.

And David having to live on the run, living in caves, gathering a band of misfits around him, fleeing from Saul who tried to kill him numerous times.

To seeing Saul die, and then becoming king over the entire nation. Seeing great victories, God protecting him and guiding the nation, even to his mistakes, his affair with another man’s wife, and God forgiving him, and to the birth of David’s son Solomon, even seeing Absalom his own son rebel against him and try to drive him out of the capital, to seeing Absalom killed by his own soldiers, and planning for his son Solomon to one day build the temple of the Lord.

David must’ve looked back on all of it and said, the Lord is my shepherd, through all of it. He is Jehovah-rohi, God my shepherd.

Nathan the Prophet said to David, in 2nd Samuel 7:8-9, “8 “‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.”

God guided every step of David’s life, he shepherded David through all the highs and lows of life. That is who God is. He is our shepherd in life.

It says of the Lord in Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”

What does a shepherd do for the sheep he cares for?

He protects them from wolves, coyotes, from bears and snakes.

He feeds them, leading them to plenty.

He speaks to them, so that they know his voice.

He cares for them. If they are wounded he bides up their wounds.

If they go astray he goes after them.

He guides them on pathways between water holes

He keeps them together

He is vigilant, present, watchful, wise, and strong.

That is who God is to us.

Our God is present with us. The shepherd was always present to the sheep. And the sheep were watching for his presence and felt safe when they knew he was near.

Similarly God says in Exodus 29:45, “I will dwell among the children of Israel.” And the Hebrew word for “dwell” there is Shekinah, which tells us God’s presence was gloriously with the people. Just as He is gloriously with us today. And we can sense His presence.

We jump over to the New Testament, and we see that Jesus our savior completely affirms this concept of who God is as Jehovah-rohi. Jesus says of himself in John 10:11-18:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

God with us, Jesus, lays it out plain as day, this is who I am to you, I’m your good shepherd, I lay down my life for the sheep, and I take it back again. He’s talking about his crucifixion for our sins and his resurrection for our eternal life.

Jesus also soberly reminds us that there robbers out there, and wolves in sheeps clothing. So we need to watch out for false shepherds, false teachers, and false prophets.

It says in Acts 20:29, Paul speaking to the elders of the church in Ephesus, “29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” And Jesus himself said in Matthew 7:15, ““Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

So we know there are dangers as Jesus shepherds us toward paradise. We need to watch out for wolves and false teachers and false prophets. We do that by staying close to the true shepherd, Jesus Christ.

“Do we know his voice as we should? Do we trust Him and follow Him as we should? Is there the beautiful intimacy between us that there should be? Do we love the shepherd’s presence? Can we distinguish His voice from the voice of the wolf in sheep’s clothing who comes among us to wrest and wreck our faith?”

“…when we are sorely tried He will lead gently on. When we are weary and wounded He will anoint our heads and heal our wounds and refresh us with tender care. As His sheep we are led by many a way. Sometime the path is through fresh green meadows; sometimes over rough, steep, rocky paths, perhaps through dark places where the sun scarcely shines. But we are ever being led to one place.”

“So the Lord Jesus, our Jehovah-rohi will lead us into that final fold and rest “before the throne of God” where John says, “they will serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun strike upon them; nor any heat: for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd” (Rev 7:15-17) S we “shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.” -Nathan Stones, Names of God, p. 147-148.