Name of God - Jehovah-Ra’ah: The Lord Is My Shepherd

Jehovah-Ra’ah: The Lord Is My Shepherd

Daily Verse: “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.”

Psalm 23:1-3 NLT

Let's Talk About It: This Psalm always reminds me of the goodness of God. It is one many Christians have memorized, and this is no different in my case as well. The word shepherd in the Hebrew is “ra’ah (rah-aw)”. It is a very ancient term used in the near east and Mesopotamia, being used in Abrahamic times, and perhaps even before. In its earliest use, it denoted a king or the head of a priesthood – a mediator between a god and his people. However, as much as we know of antiquity and as many writings as we have to date, no king or priest was ever actually referred to as Ra’ah except when it is used in the context of the Hebrew Bible.

While we can make the inference that the people in antiquity and Abraham’s time would have been familiar with the term, it is David who uses the term in its most thorough context, and David would be speaking of Jesus in this context. How do we know? Because of what David explains how this shepherd operates. “He lets me rest in green meadows,” is a clear indication of provision by God, but not just provision but provision to the full.

If we look at the landscape of Israel during David’s reign, there were not lush grasslands. Perhaps we picture such with our western mindsets and cultural appropriations, but the truth is not so. It was quite desolate in many places and shepherds had to take their sheep to lush land each and every day to find good food/grass. To do this, they had to be familiar with the land, and had to know where, in what season, produced vegetation for the herd.

This is how God is able to guide each one of us, because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows where to take us, how to get us there, and whether we need to be pushed, pulled, dragged, or yoked to Him to get there. I would be remised if I neglected to mention that “Ra-ah” also denotes one who rules with a focus on care and concern. Our God cares about us. He is concerned with each aspect of our life. He wants what is best for us. He desires to see us in the best possible condition, whether it be physically, mentally, and/or spiritually.

Finally, “ra-ah” can mean to feed someone with knowledge. All wisdom is from God (Proverbs 2:6-7). If you are in need of wisdom, James tells us to simply pray and ask and God is just to provide (paraphrased James 1:5). James also reminds us that if we are truly wise, we will walk in God’s ways (James 3:13). As we can see from digging deeper into this name of God, Jesus is our true Shepherd.

He provides, redeems, forgives, frees, cares for, and loves us. He wants what is best for us and doesn’t ask that we love others for only their own betterment for ours as well. One cannot help but feel good when they do for others. Breaking past ourselves and putting others before our own interests leads to breakthrough. Do you know Jesus as your Shepherd? If so, how has He provided for you? If not, I encourage you to read this article, and perhaps, even say the included prayer. – Crystal

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