Jehovah-Ra’ah – The Lord is My Shepherd
When we think of God as our shepherd, we often picture a placid, passive fellow sitting motionless on a rock beside the still waters.
But that’s not the job description of a shepherd. The shepherd is there to guard the sheep from predators and their own foolishness and to make sure they have everything they need. The sheep are fat, happy, and serene, but the shepherd is ever on guard, ready to pounce into action at a moment’s notice. The shepherd is aware of the entire scene. He knows what is coming and plans ahead for the needs of the flock, vigilant as to dangers from terrain and predators. He is tender with the babies, forceful with the stubborn, and fierce against the foes. The good shepherd never takes a break. He always looks after his charges.
David, who penned this Psalm, was a shepherd. He knew that it is a job takes strength and commitment. Sheep cannot be left to their own devices. Even when David went into the Israeli camp with provisions for his brothers and ended up slaying the God-mocking giant Goliath (1Samuel 17:26-50), his brother wanted to know who was tending the sheep. Our Shepherd, too, is always on the job. Psalms 121:4 (CEV) tells us that “The protector of Israel doesn’t doze or ever get drowsy.”
The job of the sheep is to listen to the voice of their shepherd and to follow him. Because of the time and care he has given them, they know his voice and trust his lead. Jesus said in John 10:3-4 that, as His sheep, He calls each of us out by name and that we follow His lead because we know His voice. When we go where he leads and stay within the boundaries He sets, He takes care of us and provides protection.
A good shepherd will die defending his charges, and this is what Jesus did for us.
Our Shepherd is not a passive wimp, but a strong provider, protector, and wise guide. He is big.
What do these verses show you about the nature of God?