God is Yahweh Raah – Eternal Shepherd

One of the most familiar passages of Scripture in the Bible outside of John 3:16 is the 23rd Psalm. You have heard the 23rd Psalm quoted at funerals, and perhaps have read and meditated on the Psalm when in a “dark night of the soul”. Let’s read this Psalm together:

Psalms 23:1-6 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. [2] He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. [3] He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. [4] 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. [5] Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. [6] 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.

If you’ve got a King James Bible you’ll notice that the word is is in italics. There is no verb in the very first statement King David makes. What he writes literally is “Yahweh Raah – The Eternal God – Shepherd”. Shepherd is one of the names of God.


God Is Often Portrayed As Shepherd To His People. We may not understand sheep and shepherding as much as the Jew does. In America our major meats are beef and pork. There are few people who eat sheep or lamb on a regular basis. But in other parts of the world the shepherd and his flock are very prominent. In Israel sheep were required not only as food, but also as a major source of religious worship. When Israel was first established as a nation God brought them out of Egypt through an event called The Passover. God told His people to take a lamb per household …

Exodus 12:2 (ESV) This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

The lamb without blemish was to be taken from the flock, and brought into the household for 4 days before it was killed. It was then killed, and it’s blood was placed on the two door posts and the lintel of the house. The lamb was then eaten, roasted over fire. God told His people to do this “Passover” every year, for if they did not death would visit their homes. “When I see the Blood, I will pass over you”.

Sheep and lambs were used for the Passover, for the Burnt Offerings, in most of the sacrifices that Israel was commanded to perform. Shepherds were common in Israel, and every Jewish household ate lamb or sheep.

What is a Shepherd? He is the one who watches over His sheep!

Sheep have teeth perfectly suited for chewing grass, but not for tearing flesh. Sheep can run, but are not as fast as wolves or lions. Sheep have hooves suited for climbing, but no claws, nor any way to defend themselves. Sheep are absolutely defenseless in themselves. Their strength lies in the faithfulness and watchful eye of the shepherd.

1 God Is The Shepherd Over Those Who Will Submit To Him As Joseph And David Did. We are His Sheep in the good times, and we are His Sheep in the bad times.

Psalms 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd;

He is Yahweh Raah – The LORD Shepherd. God watches over and takes care of His Sheep. We are told in ..

Psalm 80:1-3 (ESV) Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

God is the Savior of His Sheep. God will shepherd those who submit to Him. God is not a Sheep Dog, but a Shepherd. The sheep must submit to the Shepherd if they wish to be blessed.

The Bible tells us that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). The Scripture says:

Psalm 138:6 (ESV) For though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty (the arrogant) He knows from afar.

The Shepherd watches over those who will be His sheep. He leads Joseph like a flock. I think it’s interesting that the Scripture here speaks of Joseph. Whole books have been written about Joseph. I have read many leadership manuals that have used Joseph as an example. Do you know what blessed Joseph, and blesses every great person God has used?

Just like King David, Joseph knew who was the sheep and who was the Shepherd.

If the Lord is Shepherd and I am His sheep then He will make things come out right in the end. Too many people who go by the name “Baptist”, “Methodist”, “Presbyterian”, “Church of Christ”, “Church of God”, or even “Christian” believe that God is their Shepherd – but only when I want Him to be. If you believe that then God is NOT your Shepherd. Let me repeat –

If you believe God is your Shepherd ONLY when you want Him to be,
Then God is NOT your Shepherd – at least not while you are like that!

God was Joseph’s Shepherd from beginning to end. When Joseph was given a coat of many colors (the good) then God was Joseph’s Shepherd. But when Joseph was cast in a pit by his brothers, God was STILL his Shepherd. When slavers came along and bought Joseph, carrying him off into Egypt, God was still Joseph’s Shepherd. When Joseph was sold to Potiphar a prince he was in the best household he could be. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 39:2-5 (ESV) The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.

God was still Joseph’s Shepherd. Yet as is true in every life with the good often comes the bad. When Potiphar’s wife said “Sleep with me or else” (Genesis 39:7-9) God was STILL Shepherd to Joseph. Joseph said:

Genesis 39:9 (ESV) …. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?

Joseph did not see the sin of adultery as primarily against Potiphar. No, he saw the sin as an action that no sheep would take against his Shepherd. God placed him in that pasture. God blessed him in Potiphar’s home. He would not turn away from his Great Shepherd. What happened? Was he rewarded for this? No. Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph, and had him cast into prison for many years. What did Joseph do?

Yahweh Raah! The Eternal God My Shepherd!

While in prison the Cupbearer of the King and his Baker are also imprisoned, and while there have a dream. The two men come to Joseph and Joseph turn to his Shepherd. “Interpretations of dreams belong to God. Tell them to me, and God will explain them.” Joseph heard their dreams, and interpreting the dreams told the Cupbearer he would be restored to office in three days, whereas the Baker would be executed in three days. Joseph asked the Cupbearer:

Exodus 40:14 (ESV) .. Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this {prison}.

When the Cupbearer was restored was he faithful to remember Joseph? No. People often let us down, fail us, hurt us. Yet did Joseph abandon his Shepherd? No. He waited on the Lord, and trusted Him. Jud Wilhite wrote in his book Torn:

“Does why bring healing? Does why bring closure? Rarely. Why keeps you in the past and
blocks you from moving forward. Why keeps you stuck in the pain and chokes out the
potential to heal. This is the reason that the better question – the question that Christians should move into sooner rather than later – is who. Who is in charge? Who is in control? Who has all things in His hand? Who will make all things right? Who is restoring all things?

The “Who” of Joseph and the “Who” we need to turn to is YAHWEH RAAH – The Eternal God The Shepherd. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 95:6-7 (ESV) Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if you will hear His Voice, 8 harden not your hearts …

Joseph could have hardened his heart because of his situation. Abandoned in prison for 13 years, eventually God raised Joseph to power, and placed him at the right hand of Pharaoh. When famine caused Joseph’s brothers to come to Egypt for sustenance, even then Joseph did not turn from sheep to wolf. He could have easily had his brothers killed. He didn’t. He told his brothers:

Genesis 50:19-20 (ESV) But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Joseph would not allow circumstances and events – whether good or bad – to take him from sheep to something else. “Am I in the place of God?”. No, we are not. When we trust God and let Him be the Shepherd, and we the sheep, then He leads Joseph like a flock.

2 God As Shepherd Demands Our Obedience – TOGETHER. We read:

Psalms 23:1-2 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. [2] He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

The LORD – Yahweh – is Shepherd. This is the God Who has created all things. The Scripture says:

Isaiah 40:11-12 (ESV) {The LORD} will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

A Shepherd does not tend just ONE sheep. He tends a FLOCK.

Those who say “I can follow the Lord by myself do not understand the concept of the Shepherd. If you wish to be blessed with God’s Presence then you must be in a Faith Family. It can be a small family, but no sheep is shepherded by himself. Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20-22).

The LORD Who Shepherds is immense in power. There is nothing that He cannot do. No one can measure the waters of this earth – no one has a clue how much fresh and salt water there is. We can guess, but we do not know. But YAHWEH RAAH has held and can hold every one of these waters in the hollow of His hand. No one knows how many stars there are, and scientists have yet to come to the end of space. No one knows. But God spans the Heavens with but one hand. God is mighty. God is immense. There is nothing impossible for God.

Jeremiah 31:10 (ESV) …. {the LORD} who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a Shepherd keeps his flock.

God will gather the Lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom. He cares for us. God loves us so. But there are times when God places us in places that seem to be bad places. Yet they are not. They are for our good. YAHWEH RAAH loves His sheep, but makes us lie down in green pastures. He doesn’t ask us. He MAKES us. He MAKES us LIE DOWN. Sometimes we lie down in exhaustion. Sometimes we lie down in pain. Sometimes we lie down in joy and fleeting happiness. But God loves us. And God demands our obedience.

The Shepherd never polls the sheep to see where they want to go. The Shepherd is head and shoulders above the sheep. He sees the distance, and knows what is best. We do not know what is best, but He always does. The Shepherd scattered Israel when they got their eyes off of Him, but He never lost sight of His Sheep. He Who scattered will regather. God said:

Ezekiel 34:15-16 I myself will be the shepherd of My sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.

Those who stand strong apart from YAHWEH RAAH will be destroyed. The Pharisees sought a righteousness without Christ. The Scribes sought a righteousness with the Lord. Jesus told them “The tax collectors and prostitutes go into the Kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). Why? Because John the Baptist came preaching Christ as the Great Shepherd of the sheep, and the religious crowd refused to hear his witness.

The sheep is weak. The sheep is without strength. The sheep comes to Him Who is the Great Shepherd, yielding to Him as Lord and Savior!

3 Yahweh Raah Leads Us But We Must Follow. He Will Lead Us To Blessing, And Lead Us To Life.

Psalms 23:2-3 (KJV) He leadeth me beside the still waters. [3] He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 


God leads us physically and leads us spiritually.

God leads His people to places where they can be refreshed. He leadeth me beside the still waters. Turbulent water is often muddy, and could hide danger. God satisfies His people. Jesus told the Samaritan woman:

John 4:13-14 …. Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Yahweh Raah, God our Shepherd leads us beside calm water. It is not calm water like the Dead Sea is calm, polluted, unfit to drink. God leads us to a place of refreshing. He wants to bless us – but cannot bless us when we wander from under His care. The Scripture promises that the Shepherd will care for His Sheep. We read:

Psalm 37:25 ESV I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

God our Shepherd sustains us both physically as well as spiritually. He restoreth my soul. He heals the scars. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. God blesses the righteous. The sheep of His pasture are righteous. Not righteous in our power, but righteous because of Him, His name’s sake. Those who are righteous will follow Him Who leads in righteousness.

The Sheep of the Shepherd are righteous. We are righteous by faith. We are righteous because we are His. As He is, so are we drawn to be.

Psalms 23:4 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.

The Sheep are to understand that the Shepherd goes with them no matter where they may go. Christ is with us. Let us read:

John 10:7, 9-15, 28 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. … [9] I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. [10] The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. [11] I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. [12] But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. [13] The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. [14] I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. [15] As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [28] And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Christ is the Shepherd of the Sheep. He is Yahweh Raah. He goes with us where ever we go. When we walk through the Valley it is not Death Valley, but the “Valley of the SHADOW of Death”. How can I explain this?

You have all seen shadows. Which would you rather be run over with? A TRUCK or a SHADOW of a truck? The SHADOW of a truck can pass over you when you are standing next to a highway and all you may feel is the wind of its passing. A SHADOW has no power to harm. Christ has defeated death in His body. He died, and in dying caused the death of death for those who believe on Him. We who are His can never be harmed by death.

Psalms 23:5-6 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. [6] 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.

We will have enemies in this life, but death will not be one of those enemies

Those who are His Sheep are promised LIFE. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. As you follow the Great Shepherd, Yahweh Raah, blessing will follow you. You do not chase blessing. Blessing chases you! And the Psalmist ends with “I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever”. I will dwell. Not a shadow of me, but a perfected me. Those who belong to Yahweh Raah will be forever with Yahweh Raah.

How can I live in victory? First, understand Who is Shepherd and who is sheep. When discouraging times come look to your Shepherd. Read His Word. Meditate on His Scriptures. Second, realize that what you are going through is but temporary. Take the long view. David said:

I will dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER.

An early preacher called Augustine wrote:

Death is not to be regarded as a disaster, when it follows on a good life, for the only thing that makes death an evil is what comes after death. Those who must inevitably die ought not to worry overmuch about what accident will cause their death, but about their destination after dying. Christians know that the death of a poor religious man, licked by the tongues of dogs, is far better than the death of a godless rich man, dressed in purple and linen. Why then should those who have lived well be dismayed by the terror of death in any form?”

May God bless you all to surrender to Him, Yahweh Raah, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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