YHWH Ra’ah (Ra^ ah) God Shepherd
The name YHWH RA’AH translates as God my Shepherd
The Hebrew word ra'ah, means “shepherd,” and describes one who tends, leads, feeds, protects and rescues his flock of sheep. As a shepherd cares for his flock, so Yahweh Ra'ah cares for his people, providing for their needs and guiding and protecting them.
I was surprised how many of the notable Biblical figures were shepherds: -Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob’s sons (couldn’t live near the Egyptians -unclean), Moses and David
-from this occupation of shepherding by believers in YHWH came the transfer concept of -well then -God is my Shepherd and I am like these sheep that I care for.
-Jacob first expresses this way back in Genesis 48 when we read
Then he (Jacob) blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd (Ra’ah) all my life to this day,
David echoed this same idea/concept.
The Lord is my shepherd, (YHWH Ra’ah) I shall not be in want.’
Isaiah 40: 10-11 YHWH Ra’ah tends His flock -you’re in the flock
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, …. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Jeremiah 31:10 Ra’ah watches over His flock -you’re in the flock
10 … ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
Ezekiel 34:12 Ra’ah will look after his flock -you’re in the flock
12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
John 10:12 If you’re in the flock of believers than Jesus tells you this:
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Now I have heard it said that sheep are one of dumbest animals around, that sheep are one of the most helpless animals alive. And I heard from Pastors that people are just like sheep, dumb and helpless.
-I disagree -partially. Sheep aren’t totally dumb.
In fact sheep can be quite intelligent.
I go often to Ben and Claudia’s farm where there are 3 sheep. When they were away from the farm I look after the sheep. And I see them many times every week.
When the sheep saw me this week, they recognized me, they knew who I was and were not afraid (when they first saw me they ran). In fact I can sense they know me and feel safe with me. If I walk towards them they often will walk towards me as well. (looking for a treat -they love orange peel).
Sheep are incredibly caring mothers and form deep bonds with their babies. Sheep are actually incredibly intelligent. They have very impressive cognitive ability and just like humans, they form deep and lasting bonds with each other, they stick up for one another in fights, and they grieve when they lose a friend. They experience all of the same emotions that we do including fear, joy, boredom, and anger.
In addition to being incredibly smart, they also have wonderful memories! They can remember approximately 50 individuals (sheep and human!) for years at a time.
Sheep have unique rectangular pupils that allow them amazing peripheral vision - it’s estimated that their field of vision is between 270 and 320 degrees! Humans, in comparison, average 155 degrees.
They self medicate! Sheep who aren’t feeling well have been known to seek out plants and substances that make them feel better.
Now I said partially meaning there are some traits of dumbness with sheep. If a lambing ewe is not in good condition or doesn’t feel up to it, she will walk away from the newborn lamb and leave it to die or have a second (twin) and leave the first one for the coyotes.
Then there’s the situation of a sheep found out on its own – without other sheep as company, they will often walk in circles, going nowhere and not eating, until they die.
I read a shepherd’s blog who found a big lamb, almost ready for sale, dead under a log in the paddock. It had pushed into a stack of timber to reach some morsel of food, found it was stuck but instead of backing out, it kept pushing forward and died there.
Sheep are prey animals and their natural instinct is to flee when in a situation they perceive as dangerous. And they have a special problem. They have no defenses.
-Cats have teeth, claws and speed.
-Dogs have their teeth and their speed.
-Horses can kick, bite and run.
-Bears can claw, bite and crush.
-Deer can run.
But the sheep have no bite or claws and cannot outrun any serious predator. The sheep’s only security is the shepherd. Indeed, the shepherd of us says “I am with you always.”
The imagery of shepherd conveys both the tenderness and strength and care and watch-over characteristics of God, our Shepherd, Ra’ah.
The picture of us as sheep and God as our Shepherd is powerful and is described by one of the greatest shepherds -King David. The bear and lion slayer while protecting his flock.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Or I shall not want (KJV)
-can we stop right here and repeat this first sentence but include an assumed adverb in the text
‘When the Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing’ – you will not lack clothing, food, shelter if you are one of His sheep. These needs God, Ra’ah -the Shepherd, will give you as one His flock. Never doubt that nor fear that because the good Shepherd provides for His own. You may not have a Cadillac car but you WILL HAVE WHAT YOU NEED.
-a side bar to that is if you find yourself as one of His flock but your off on your own, wandering around and away from the good Shepherd, know this, the Shepherd is seeking your closeness once again, He is calling you and this Shepherd will stop at nothing to bring you back. He has already died for you so He will use any means for your return.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
-sheep are ruminants and need to stop eating and chew their cuds
David includes this line from experience, sheep need to rest, to be
still and chew right in the middle of green pastures -apply that to
he leads me beside quiet waters,
-sheep will not drink at running or gurgling water so the Shepherd leads us to the still waters, to Himself, to the one who said –‘my peace I leave with you’.
3 He refreshes my soul. The Shepherd’s presence refreshes He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
The Shepherd guides. Do you need guidance -follow the Shepherd’s lead
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
-I find it interesting the shepherd has lead the sheep into a dark valley by design and with purpose. It may be similar to our circumstance of being in a dark valley -God has lead you there and has stayed by your side each step
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; -here is the central point of this Psalm
-God’s ever abiding presence, He never leaves you and this can chase our fears away
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
these are 2 instruments of protection and rescue – I am comforted to know that God and His instruments are on the way to my rescue whenever I need rescue
-the next 2 verses can be summarized as this:
-although I live in a world marred with Satan’s evil intent against me, in a world of evil and a world filled with evil people, in front of my enemies God says I’ll take care of you, here’s a feast table to sit at.
-it’s a feast God prepares for me, God anoints me a mark of hospitality and special honour and then He pours into my cup until it overflows and his abundance to me doesn’t stop.
God’s continuing goodness and tender love follows me every day and in every way until I reach His house where delights are for evermore.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is YHWH Ra’ah God my Shepherd.
Are you in need? God will provide your needs. He is Ra’ah your shepherd
Do you need rest? Lie down at the feet of the good Shepherd -Jesus
Are you thirsty? Drink then from the still living water of Jesus.
Then you will have water springing up in you
Do you need guidance? Follow the Shepherd, Ra’ah, of your soul
Are you in a dark valley?
Are you in Fear? -don’t worry or fear YHWH Shammah
The God who is present with you always
& is the Shepherd -whispers to you ‘I am near’
Do you need rescue? Ra’ah, the Shepherd is coming, Call to Him, bleat out your cry to God
Are enemies /evil all about you? Sit down and feast because the Shepherd’s goodness and love surround You and He will bring you home.
The Lord is your Shepherd, YHWH Ra’ah
Conduct yourself, live your life like God is … your Shepherd.
1 Peter 2:25
For “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and guardian of your souls."
March 12, 2023