Inspired by . . . Day 25: His Name, Jehovah-raah
The LORD my Shepherd
This facet of our Lord’s character, the portrayal of our Lord as the Shepherd Who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for his flock, is probably one of the most comforting and familiar to us. Yet, unless we have some background in farming, or understanding of shepherding and sheep, there is a depth to this portrait that we miss.
David, being a shepherd himself, spoke intimately when he penned the 23rd Psalm.
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psa 23:1-6
Similarly, when Jesus spoke to the people in John, chapter 10, He spoke of things they would understand. He spoke to the common man about the management of their sheep. He spoke about being the door:
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. Joh 10:7-9
Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice, and will not follow another. He tells us that He knows us each by name.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Joh 10:2-5
Taking these scriptures at face value is edifying and beneficial, however there are buried gems here that can only be found by mining. Remember, Jesus was speaking to the common man. Many of whom were shepherds. When Jesus spoke of being the door of the sheep, the men didn’t think of a wooden door, as we might, but rather, they knew Jesus was speaking of His body, laid down for the protection and safety of the flock.
During the summer, the shepherds would be with their flocks in the high pasture lands. At night they would herd the sheep into a low, rock-walled corral. Then the shepherd himself would lie down in the opening. If an enemy attacked during the night, jumping over the low wall and scattering the sheep, the sheep would run to the opening, thus awakening the shepherd who would then be able to defend them against their attacker.
So too, when Jesus said the sheep know My voice and a stranger they will not follow, His listeners knew He was speaking literally. The relationship between the shepherd and his sheep is very intimate. You’ve probably seen pictures of shepherds carrying young, or wayward sheep around their necks. The sheep know the voice of their shepherd. They will not follow the voice of another. During the winter months, the shepherds return with their flocks from the pasture lands and house them, intermingled, with other flocks in barns. In the spring, when it’s time to return to the pasture lands, the shepherds call out their sheep. It would be nearly impossible to tell one shepherd’s flock from another. But there is no need, for the sheep follow only the voice of their shepherd.
It’s comforting to think of the Lord as our Shepherd. He knows our name, and we know His voice. He protects us from our enemies, and lays down His life to save us.
How could we ask for more?
Lord, Jehovah-raah, what a comfort to know that
You know my name. That when You call,
I will know Your voice and follow You.
Thank You for laying down Your life, so that I may live
in eternity with You.
Such an incomprehensible gift.
One never to be earned or repaid.
Protect us from our enemies, give us rest,
according to Your word.
In Jesus’ name,
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