If I’m being honest there was a time in my life I was rather cavalier about God’s name Jehovah Roi. Growing up in the church, my familiarity of Psalm 23 made the idea of God as my Shepherd rather commonplace for me. However, as I've studied His names in recent years I’ve learned there is so much power in knowing Him as our Jehovah Roi. I believe it’s imperative that we understand the full implications of this name, claiming Him as our Good Shepherd on a daily basis. When we do, we will come to understand His heart for us on a much deeper level, thriving in His great love for us!
Isaiah 53:6 gives us context for why this name is so important to us. “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” Yes, like sheep we have, and will, wander off and we need to be found by Him. We need to recognize ourselves as sheep or our spiritual lives will be sorely lacking. Why? Because our dependence on Him (just as sheep are reliant on their shepherd) is our pathway to knowing Him on a deeper, more intimate level. To be dependent on Him is to be made spiritually mature in Him.
What does it mean for Him to be our Jehovah Roi? It means we acknowledge that all we need is found in Him and we choose to allow Him to protect, provide, direct and lead us. It means we understand that we need Him to tenderly care for us as a strong and patient shepherd tends to his sheep. He’s in charge. He is responsible. Consequently, we lack nothing.
As we study God’s name, Jehovah Roi, this week my prayer is that we truly hear and receive what it means to know Him as our Good Shepherd. May we all posture ourselves humbly to understand that without Him we are lost. We need Him to put us, and keep us, on His path of life. He has already provided everything we need. Let’s study His powerful name, Jehovah Roi, together and find He is the fulfillment of all we are longing for mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically!
His Name Jehovah Roi Reveals His Desire to Give you Peace & Rest:
Ezekiel 34:11-16 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers in all the places where people live. Yes, I will give them good pasture-land on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in lush mountain pastures. I myself will tend my sheep and cause them to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.
I want you to first notice that ten times in this short passage God says, “I will!” Ezekiel is making a clear and pointed declaration about who Jehovah Roi is to His people and how He longs to bring them home to Himself, ushering them into His peace and rest. Twice in this passage Jehovah Roi promises that His sheep will be so content, well fed and protected; that they will lie down in peace. This is a big deal for sheep! Rest doesn’t come easy for them, they are high strung animals that need a lot of maintenance to rest (more on this later). Jehovah Roi is the reason for their rest, and ours.
In the Hebrew this name is synonymous with being a friend or companion. Sheep will only rest when they know their shepherd is nearby. This illustration was not missed by God’s people. In Ezekial’s day shepherds had a personal relationship with their animals. They called them by name and lived with them, always tending to their every need. This is an obvious illustration of Jehovah Roi’s desire to be in a relationship with us, daily leading us into His rest. Only in the presence of our Good Shepherd will we find peace.
To glean the full power of this passage we cannot focus only on Jehovah Roi’s desire to bring us back home, we must also look at the reality that we are the wandering sheep. He knows our propensity to wander and yet He chooses us anyway. I love the grace and mercy exemplified through His name, Jehovah Roi. Again and again, we like sheep stray from Him and get ourselves into trouble. He never shames us or rebukes us. He searches and finds us, extending compassion instead of punishment. In Jewish culture shepherds often wrapped sheep with broken or injured legs around their necks, carrying them until they fully healed. Once the sheep were able to walk again they would rarely wander off. Why? They had learned dependency on their shepherd and have found such comfort in his presence they never want to be separated from him again.
Isn’t that just like our God? He pursues us and pulls us closer when we wander in sin and are tempted to pull away from Him in shame. He reaches for us and rescues us instead of leaving us to our own demise. When we stray He comes after us, “wrapping us up” in Himself through the ministry of His Holy Spirit. In this place, He knows we will learn His voice, the safety and sanctuary of his presence and after our wounds have healed we won't want to leave His side!
Metaphorically you might be feeling “broken” too. Maybe you are tempted to believe that God is not showing up for you as Jehovah Roi because you’re not experiencing His shepherding in the way you would choose. Maybe He’s allowed something that you feel is unkind (a health condition, financial strain, job loss, marital strife, children rebelling). Maybe it feels like He hasn’t shown up for you or isn’t answering your prayers in a way you think He should. What do you do?
Trust Him with your “broken leg”. He knows exactly what He’s doing, he’s not being unkind. He is working as you wait, trust His timing. He’s not punishing you - He’s pursuing you through the pain. He wastes nothing and He will never stop coming after you.
Maybe you can’t see Him as a shepherd in your life right now but how about in the past? Remember His faithfulness to you. Reflect on your own story and how He has always provided for you in His perfect timing. He doesn't always fulfill this promise to be your Good Shepherd the way you think he should, but He promises to bring you into His peace and His rest as you look to Him and focus on His presence instead of your circumstances. He longs for you to come to him for your needs. Just like one of His sheep with a broken leg, you will learn the depth of His heart and the safety of His presence as you wait on Him in the midst of your brokenness.
His Name Jehovah Roi Reveals He Has Given You Everything You Need:
Psalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along the right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
As I stated in the introduction, the idea of God as our Shepherd is common among most believers. That is true largely to the popularity of this Psalm. Many powerful messages have been preached on this insightful passage but we must choose to operate in humility so we don’t miss what the Holy Spirit wants to breathe into our hearts today.
Let’s first look at the reality of what it means to be a sheep to better apply this passage to our lives:
They have no sense of direction and cannot find their way home. They will literally follow each other off a cliff.
They have no awareness or understanding of the dangers around them and they have no way of defending themselves.
They are generally ignorant in matters of self-preservation.
They are scared of running water so they must be led to still waters or they will die of thirst. Prone to drown in water while drinking if not supervised.
They are incredibly anxious, easily agitated and panicky. They are also prone to intestinal/digestive issues and self harm.
They only lie down when they’re full so they must constantly be led to new pasture in order to rest.
If they fall over on their back they can't get themselves upright.
Now, let’s reflect on what the Good Shepherd provides:
Direction and guidance
Protection from every threat of danger.
Tender nurturing and comfort
Still waters (rest)
Peace and sanctuary
Provision of every need
The first verse of this Psalm is, in my opinion, the most arresting. Jehovah Roi is my Shepherd and because He is I lack nothing. What? Nothing? If you are anything like me there have certainly been times in your life where that statement didn’t feel true. However, this is the beauty of the illustration - we are sheep He is the Shepherd. He knows what I need, I don’t. If I don’t already have it, He knows I don’t need it. When I need it, I will have it. This doesn’t always feel true but Jehovah Roi has promised to provide so this is not dependent on my feelings or circumstance, it is Truth, always!
Again, humility is paramount. I must acknowledge that I am like a sheep, prone to wander, if I am to recognize that I don't know what I need. As the first passage revealed, rest only happens in His presence. Peace is only found in Him. He’ll never leave so His peace is always available but I must choose to rest in it. It’s interesting to find that in the Hebrew language comfort is synonymous with being led. Just like a flock of sheep, we are comforted when we know we are being led by our Good Shepherd, even in the darkest, scariest places of life. We can walk through the valley of death without fear or feast in our enemy’s presence when we remember Jehovah Roi is with us.
His heart for you is that you rest in His peace, regardless of your circumstance. Choose today to receive His shepherding. Confess any protection or provision you have been seeking apart from Him. Are you looking for your needs to be met elsewhere? Give those longings to Him and live in the reality that He alone can satisfy you. Is there another person or place you go to meet your needs? Instead, claim Him as your all sufficiency - only then will you rest in His peace.
What is the enemy convincing you you need that you don’t have? Everything you think you need is something you are seeking apart from Him. Remember, it’s a want not a need, if you don’t yet have it! Claim Psalm 23 over your life as a prayer of thanksgiving. You really do have all you need for today. Your cup overflows with blessing. His goodness and unfailing love will pursue you all the days of your life, and you will live in the house of the LORD forever!
His Name Jehovah Roi Reveals He Is Calling You By Name:
John 10:11-16 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will leave the sheep because they aren't his and he isn't their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he is merely hired and has no real concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice; and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
Sheep have a special relationship with their shepherd. In fact, it is common for sheep to distinguish their shepherd’s voice with just a guttural sound, he doesn’t even need to speak a full word! Sheep know their shepherd’s voice, he calls them by name and they respond by following his lead. They are comforted by the shepherd’s voice, allowing him to guide them easily. Conversely, they are likely to run in fear at the sight or sound of another!
As a counselor I have witnessed countless lives changed because they have encountered Jehovah Roi, the Good Shepherd in prayer. A portion of my sessions with clients are typically set aside for healing prayer. After burdens are given to Jesus (Matt. 11:28-30) I quote excerpts from John chapter 10 above as well as John 10:3-5 & 27. “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Our lives are radically changed when we hear and respond to the voice of Jehovah Roi. He speaks what is true to us and about us. He rescues us from deception, condemnation, fear, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment. He brings healing and freedom to our lives, releasing us to live in the fullness of who He created us to be.
He is the only one who has a right to shepherd us because, as John 10 states, He already laid down His life for us. He always has and always will care for our every need. Don’t let the enemy convince you that your Shepherd is absent or unconcerned. Remember the price He paid for you on the cross, then you’ll not fall prey to fear that you cannot trust Him with your future.
Remember, apart from Him there is no protection, provision or rest. You have all that you need but, like a sheep you will be quick to forget that truth if you are not hearing from Jehovah Roi directly and regularly. His peace is your inheritance and it is found in the sound of His voice. You are created to hear from your Shepherd directly. Claim John 10 over your life. Listen. You can hear His voice! To really know Him as Jehovah Roi is to know peace in your heart, mind and life as you listen, hear and obey.
I pray that you will receive more of Jehovah Roi’s love for you as you give Him your burdens and listen for His voice. Ask Him to show you how to “get out of the way” so you can truly experience Him as the shepherd of your life. What is He asking you to give Him? What have you been holding that He wants to take for your freedom’s sake? Are you looking at the wolves (John 10) in your life or at Him? What represents the hired hand (false protection/dependency) in your life?
The very one who died for you is standing guard. Listen for His voice, He is speaking. He is calling you by name. You are His - no one and nothing can ever separate you from His great and passionate love for you! It’s so good to be a sheep when you truly get to know your Great Shepherd! Prayerfully reflect as you re-read the passages from this session.
How have you been challenged (through God’s Word) to trust Him more?
How can you receive His peace and rest in a tangible way this week?
What have you surrendered that you want, knowing you have all that you need?
Listen for Jehovah Roi’s voice this week and write down what you hear Him saying to you directly...
Prayerfully reflect on Isaiah 53:6. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you as you meditate on this passage. In your prayer journal write down anything He reveals to you and respond to this passage by answering the following questions:
How have you strayed from Jehovah Roi in the past?
How did He bring you back to Himself?
In what area of your life are you currently tempted to stray?
Confess anything in your life that the Holy Spirit shows you is “following your own path.
Write a prayer of commitment in which you chose to fully surrender (or re-surrender) your life to the Good Shepherd who will lead you on the path of life.
Jehovah Roi, I need you desperately. I confess that at times I have believed the lie that I need something apart from you. I claim the truth that everything I need is found in you and provided by you. I recognize that I am your sheep and you are my Good Shepherd. Thank you for being more than enough to satisfy and fulfill me. I reject all fear and anxiety in my life and I claim your peace and rest. I know you are with me and I have nothing to fear. I choose to “lay down” at the still waters you lead me to. Jehovah Roi, thank you for calling me by name and consistently pursuing a personal relationship with me. Help me to listen, receive your love and obey when you call me to speak and serve. I want my life to bring you glory and point others back to your great love for them too! In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen!