Have you ever felt abandoned, unloved, and uncared for? If we are honest, we would probably all answer yes to that question. Life is hard. There are challenges and disappointments we all go through while trying to navigate life. This is why God revealed Himself to David as Jehovah-Raah or The Lord is our Shepherd.
God has never called us to do life alone. He doesn’t want us to have to face challenges and crises without His care and guidance. He is our Shepherd who cares for us and guides into all truth. This means when we don’t know what to do, He will lead us so we are supplied, cared for, and kept out of harms way.
Before we look at the passage of scripture where God revealed Himself as The Lord is our Shepherd, it’s important to examine the life of King David. David is the one who received the revelation about the Lord being our shepherd and God spoke this truth to him because David understood shepherding. Long before David was king, he was shepherd who cared for his father’s sheep. Look at 1 Samuel 17:
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.
Do you see what David did for his father’s sheep? He put his life at risk to protect them. This is a picture of what Jesus did for us when He went to the cross. Often in Christian circles, we put the focus on what we must do for God. This isn’t wrong, it’s just incomplete when we don’t remember that it is God who laid down his life for us first. He is the Good Shepherd who leads, provides, and cares for us. He does this when times are good and we are good and He does this when times are bad and we haven’t been very good.
Now let’s look at Psalm 23:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, 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 runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Most scholars believe David wrote this Psalm in the first few years after becoming the king of Israel. He had been promoted from being the shepherd of his father’s sheep to the shepherd of an entire nation. Can you imagine how stressful this must have been? Imagine the decisions he had to make about national policy, national defense, and provision for a nation. I’m sure he had the potential to feel overwhelmed. I would have.
In the midst of all this God told David, “I am your Shepherd. Yes, I’ve call you to protect, care for and lead these people, but David I am the one who protects, cares for and leads you! ” God revealed a new facet of His character and nature when He revealed Himself to David as Jehovah-Raah. God had always cared for and led His people, but prior to this revelation, Israel did not know God this way. This name revealed God’s nature, which still applies to us today.
Today, God watches over, protects, and cares for all of us – ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ARE OVERWHELMED! The verses of this Psalm illustrate this because they talk about being led through the valley of the shadow of death and God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. There will be times in life when we sense the presence of the shadow of death and enemies all around us. This is when we need to know The Lord Our Shepherd is here and He isn’t abandoning us. He will use His rod to keep us from getting off the path and protect us if something tries to harm us. He will also provide for us in the midst of apparent chaos. Why? Because He is the The Lord Our Shepherd. Think about it, God didn’t call us to die for Him, He sent Jesus to the earth to die for us. He’s the Good Shepherd and we are not alone.
The last point I want to make in this article is about how sheep know the shepherd’s voice. In John 10:27 Jesus said, ”My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” If you are a Christian, you are one of Jesus’s sheep and you know His voice. Sometimes we don’t always recognize His voice even though we are hearing it so I’m going to give some tips below on how to recognize God’s voice.
- One of the major ways to recognize His voice is through the Bible. It is His written word, which is His primary way of guiding each of us. We need to endeavor to read and understand the Bible because it gives clear guidance for many of the decisions we need to make in life. It is a major way The Lord Our Shepherd has chosen to lead us.
- One of the other man ways the Lord leads us is through the voice of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14-16 teach we have the inward witness or knowing in ourselves that we are God’s children. This witness is the voice of the Holy Spirit. What do witnesses do? They testify of something they have seen. The Holy Spirit will testify or tell us of what He has seen or knows. This witness is often relayed to us as impressions or inward knowings in our heart about what to do in particular situations.
- Lastly, God will also speak to each of us individually in language we understand. This is why God revealed Himself to David as The Lord Our Shepherd. David had been a shepherd so this was language he was familiar with and understood. I like sports and grew up playing and watching sports so if God would have been speaking to me, He would have probably said, “I’m the Lord your Coach.” God will often speak to me in sports analogies or in language from the business world because I worked in the corporate world for 15 years. It’s language I understand and I’ve learned to hear His voice that way. God will do the same for you. He will speak to you in a way that you will understand. You are His sheep and you hear His voice.
As I close I want to encourage you to study the 23rd Psalm and John 10, which are two powerful passages of scripture about the nature of our Shepherd. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you revelation of this truth because God wants you to experience Him this way. If you would like to learn more about The Good Shepherd, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church. It will really bless you!
If you would like to learn more about the seven redemptive names of God, click here to read the rest of my series on What Is Eternal Life where I explore what it means to really experience the life God has called us to by understanding the seven redemptive names of God.