The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
When we hear of God as our Shepherd, the very common passage, Psalm 23:1, comes to mind. It is so common…we hear this verse or the reference of it in our homes and at Sunday School, and we see the imagery of it depicted in different forms. Regardless of it being a very common verse, I urge you to ponder and take a deeper look at God our Shepherd—Jehovah Rohi.
David wrote Psalm 23 based on his reflections and experiences as a shepherd. He realized that was exactly the relationship God had with him. The Amplified version reads, ‘The LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.’ (Psalm 23:1).
When we look at any character in the Bible, however off-track (s)he may be, we see a plan and purpose to the person’s life. In spite of all their meanderings and their on-and-off journey with God, God stays faithful and watches over His people. He is like the gardener (John 15) who takes care of his field—doing everything to have healthy and fruitful produce.
To understand God as our Shepherd, we need to understand the life of a typical Palestinian shepherd and his relationship with his sheep.
- The shepherd lives with his sheep day and night, establishing a high degree of intimacy.
- The shepherd calls out to his sheep, and the sheep, knowing and hearing his voice only, heed.
- To protect the sheep from thieves and preying animals, the shepherd will sleep in the gateway of the makeshift sheepfold and the sheep, sensing his watchfulness, do not fear.
- The shepherd takes responsibility for providing pasture and water irrespective of the climatic condition (vegetation depended much on the season and as the weather changed, the shepherd would travel far to provide), and/or the presence of enemies.
This is not only our relationship with God as our Shepherd but also God’s desired relationship with us where he is intimate, personal and cares for us.
In the Hebrew language, ‘Rohi’ is a noun and a verb, meaning ‘a shepherd’ and also ‘to shepherd.” So many times in our own lives we have experienced God as both a shepherd and someone who shepherds us. Usually this is understood and realised in retrospect and not necessarily as we live in the moment.
For a healthy life that caters to all faculties of a person, it is necessary and important to have a well-balanced and nutritious diet—both physically and spiritually. As I look back on my own life, I see different phases that have enriched me—a season when I was raised in a pastor’s home, a season that taught me to nourish myself with reading, a season that taught me patience and dependence, and the list goes on.
We are always headed in a direction! Question is—which direction? Just as parents or teachers direct their student towards a certain aim, so also we must allow God to direct us. He may do this through different ways, whether it be a person, a teacher, an experience, etc. At different times, when I could have spiraled deep into a mess, God, in His kindness and mercy, saved me by giving me a fresh perspective and understanding. At one time it was to help me manage my finances better, another time to help me change my view of the church, another time to understand the importance and value of marriage, another time to understand leadership.
Knowing you are protected and that there is security always brings about a certain calm. As a means of protection, our houses have walls and doors. For our well-being it is important to know and believe we are taken care of—so many times, scripture assures us not to fear because Christ is with us. Often as I ride my motorcycle on the roads of Delhi, I have experienced protection from possible accidents. At work, I am still getting acquainted with legal processes and their implications as I submit official documents and records. God has placed a few people who help me keep a check on these areas, and through them God has been my shield.
The LORD is my Shepherd, The LORD is your Shepherd – Jehovah Rohi•••••••••• Written by Shalem