Knowing God by His Names ~ Shepherd 10

Knowing God by His Names – 10
                            Jehovah-Rohi ~ The LORD is my Shepherd
* Psalms 23:1-6  (please read these verses, even though they may be so familiar)
                  1  The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
                  2  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads
                      me beside quiet waters,
                  3  he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of
                      righteousness for his name’s sake.
                  4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow
                     of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with 
                     me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
                  5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
                     You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
                  6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
                     and I will dwell in the house of the
                     LORD forever
* Key Verse:  ‘The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.’  (v. 1)
* Today’s Focus:  The 23rd Psalm along with the Lord’s prayer, is probably the most loved portion of scripture, it is read at weddings, funerals, and quoted numerous times from the pulpit.  Many, when found in a time of pain, frustration or just seeking comfort, turn to these words.  As Ken Hemphill wrote in his article in Christianity Today (2001), ‘names are a means of self-revelation’.   We have seen Jehovah as our Provider, Healer, Banner, Sanctifier, and our Peace.  Now we experience relationship, hands on, guidance, and concern of the Shepherd for His sheep.  The relationship presented in this psalm, written by David, stating … Jehovah-Rohi, the LORD is my Shepherd, expresses the most intimate name thus far in our study.
The word ‘shepherd’ in the Hebrew is Ra’ah (or Rohi) meaning ‘to feed or lead to pasture’.  The role of a shepherd is as we would say in the 21st century …. 24/7.  The sheep rely completely on the shepherd for water, good pasture land, and protection.  The only thing (or One) that stands between the sheep and the elements or danger is the shepherd.  I have heard and read Psalms 23 from the perspective of the shepherd.  My junior year of college, the required course Pastoral Ministry, we too looked at it from the shepherd or pastors point of view.  I would like us also to see it from the sheep’s perspective, what the Shepherd is to us.
As we seek David’s heart when he wrote this passage, we sense deep conviction, experience.  It is told this may have been written in his latter years.  He puts into words a time of reflection, yet speaks of a current relationship. The verbs used are present tense… ‘He makes’…. not ‘He made’, ‘He leads’, not ‘He led’.  Also, we see the confession of further relationship, verse 6, ‘Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.’
He too, once being a shepherd knows the ins and out of that title. David was a shepherd before he was a warrior and a king.  Notice the ‘pronouns’ used…. David does not make large statements such as ‘Almighty God of heaven and earth, governing over mankind’. No, he says, the LORD,  using the covenantal name Yahweh -Jehovah, He is my Shepherd.  God does not get more personal than … ‘my’.  Going on to say, the Shepherd – ‘He makes me lie down, He leads me besides quiet waters, He restores my soul…’
David now expresses himself as … a sheep.  Knowing the reputation of sheep, not so bright, no leadership qualities, (they are followers) and ultimately dependent on another for their survival.   David speaks in humility.  David the sheep .. is satisfied.  In researching the life of a sheep (a great read by the way), sheep are skittish, easily frightened, and tend to wander.  They will only calm down when all their needs are met.  And Who is meeting these needs?  The Shepherd.  David is saying, ‘in my relationship with God, He satisfies all of me, my needs, and my wants.’
We see in the following verses, the pro-active work of the Shepherd in the sheep’s life.  Also, we see the willingness to follow the Shepherds working.  The sheep is being made to lie down, rest, he is being lead beside quiet (still) waters.  An interesting fact about the ‘quiet, still’ waters, the sheep will drown in swift water.  Their wool is like a sponge that absorbs the water so that the sheep can not swim out, so they are taken to a place that does not hold a potential threat.  Look at verse 4, ‘Your rod and staff they comfort me.’   One of the uses for the staff was for counting the sheep, many flocks were numerous, so to loose count or get confused, easily happened.  Since they did not have calculators, or the hand held ‘counter’,  the sheep would pass under the staff, while there the shepherd pauses to inspect the sheep for health, injury, that hands on attention required.  For the sheep, the reassurance of the Shepherd’s presence.   The shepherd is speaking to the sheep.  Many shepherds worked the flocks alone, so conversation was quite limited.  Can you imagine what the sheep heard… words of comfort, discipline, chastisement, encouragement, love. 
John chapter 10, Jesus declares ‘I am the Good Shepherd’, going on to say that He knows His sheep and they know Him, there is conversation, relationship, time spent with one another. I would encourage you to go to this portion of scripture, familiarize yourself with Jesus as your Shepherd.
As the Shepherd provides for the sheep, as wonderful as this is, yet there is something that has stood out to me.  Now track with me, this is good!  Verse 6  ‘Surely goodness and love (mercy, lovingkindness ) will follow me all the days of my life’, as I looked at this in the original Hebrew, I was again reminded just to what lengths God will go to, to get our attention.  David speaks of the Shepherd’s ‘goodness and love’, this action towards us meaning … God’s loyalty, commitment… devotion.  But God, the Shepherd does not stop with merely presenting us with His devotion… His devotion will ‘follow me’.  The word follow, can be translated ‘purse’.  As mentioned in a Hebrew Dictionary, this is the only place in the entire O.T. where, ‘goodness and love’ and ‘purse’ appear together.   The word picture described is, God’s favor chasing down the one whom He loves.  It is NOT  passive in the sense, that God is tagging along behind us.  NO, it is aggressive…He is hunting us down.  Ever felt that way? In knowing this, we can stop and allow Him to catch us.  He is motivated out of love.
God our Shepherd provides for us without sparing a single detail.  We are lacking nothing, resting, eating, FEASTING, walking in victory, fearless, anointed, restored.  I would challenge you, go to the back of your bible (or a bible concordance) and look up all the verses that pertain to shepherd.  It is a fascinating study, and just a glimpse into the heart of God towards us.
Study Questions:
1.  In looking at the 6 verses of Psalms 23, which ones would you describe as, 
     the sense of belonging?
2.  In seeing yourself as a ‘sheep’ before God, how can you better yourself in
     attitude, and responses to Him, the Shepherd?
3.   Verse 3 says, ‘He (the Shepherd) restores my soul’, is there an area,
     that needs the Shepherds touch, His hands on… attention?  If so, can you 
     describe it?   Then allow Him to catch you and get His hands all over you.
4.  John 10:3, Jesus says ‘the sheep listen His voice.  He calls His own sheep
     by name…’.   Are you  listening?  Or are you out romping in the back 40,
     and not paying attention?   What can you do to  better position yourself to
     hear Him?

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