Series: “The Names of God” (post #4)
“The Lord is my shepherd.” These opening words of the 23rd Psalm are probably the most well known words in the Bible, only rivaled by the words of John 3:16. Far less known, however, are the Hebrew words behind them. The Hebrew for Psalm 23:1 uses the name Jehovah Roi. The name’s meaning is easy to understand. Jehovah translates as “The Lord” and Roi translates as “my shepherd.”
This idea of the Lord as the shepherd and the saved believer as the sheep is vividly descriptive. Let’s consider three of the most obvious implications from it. Christian, as we list these, think about how each one specifically relates to your own walk with Jesus.
First, the name Jehovah Roi implies that the Christian isn’t responsible for charting his or her own course in life. The Christian’s job is simply to submit to Christ’s leadership and fall in behind Him. The relationship is almost childlike. Jesus provides a shepherd’s leadership while the Christian provides a sheep’s followship. You don’t get much more basic than that.
Second, the name Jehovah Roi implies that Jesus is taking the Christian somewhere. The journey might be to a place a thousand miles away or to a place just up the road, but Jesus doesn’t want the Christian to remain stationary or stagnant. According to the Psalm, Jesus will lead the Christian to green pastures, to still waters, in the paths of righteousness, through the valley of the shadow of death, to a table prepared for him in the presence of his enemies, and to Christ’s own eternal house. All in all, that sounds like a trip anyone would be wise to take.
Third, the name Jehovah Roi implies that Jesus is responsible for the Christian’s protection. The human writer of Psalm 23 was David, and in another passage (1 Samuel 17:31-37) he recalls how he killed a lion and a bear during his former days as a shepherd. He even says of one of those ferocious creatures, “I delivered the lamb from its mouth.” But why did David kill that lion and that bear? He did it to protect his sheep. That is, after all, what shepherds do. They don’t just lead their sheep. They protect them.
So tell me, Christian, could you use some leadership in your life? Could you use some direction? Could you use some protection? Well, allow me to reintroduce you to your Savior, Jesus Christ. Have you forgotten that He said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14, N.K.J.V.)? Have you forgotten that He said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11, N.K.J.V.)? You can best believe that any shepherd who loves His sheep enough to die for them is surely a worthy shepherd. The question, then, for each of us is not, “Is Jesus a shepherd worth following?” The question is, “How am I doing these days at following Him?” And that’s a question that each of us has to answer afresh and anew every day.