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Rohi (or Raah, a variant spelling) is the Hebrew word for “shepherd.” Jehovah is God’s personal name in Scripture. So Jehovah Rohi means “the Lord Is My Shepherd.” It is one of God’s many names in the Bible. Both rohi and raah come from a Hebrew root word meaning “to feed” and came to mean a shepherd who feeds his flock. The image of God caring for us like a loving shepherd cares for his sheep is one of the most familiar and loved pictures of God in Scripture.
Psalm 23—the “Shepherd Psalm”—is undoubtedly the best-known example of Jehovah Rohi, describing God as our Shepherd. King David of Israel, the author of this psalm, had himself been a shepherd as a young man, caring for his father’s flocks. He knew from personal experience how vitally important it is to the safety and well-being of the sheep to have a good shepherd who would care for them even if it meant putting himself at risk or hardship.
A good shepherd endured cold, heat, sleeplessness, weariness, and danger to care for his sheep.
Drawing on his personal experience as a shepherd, David wrote this psalm to teach us important truths about God. And we must experience God personally if we are to fully know Him as our Shepherd. Psalm 23 beautifully pictures Jehovah Rohi, who cares for us and provides all we need:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads 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 You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1-4).
The 23rd Psalm has comforted thousands in times of difficulty. But it is by no means the only picture in the Bible of God as our loving Shepherd. References to Jehovah Rohi are sprinkled throughout the Bible. Here are two:
How does Jehovah Rohi, our Shepherd, care for His sheep?
If Jehovah Rohi is our Shepherd, we must be His sheep. And that is how the Bible describes us:
“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3; see also Psalm 95:7).
Unfortunately, just as sheep do not always follow their shepherd as they should and wander away, we, too—God’s sheep—have failed to follow Him. We often wander away. The Bible says,
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6).
Jesus said of Himself:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. . . . I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 14, 15).
Jesus is the fulfillment of all that the Bible says about Jehovah Rohi—our Shepherd.
While on Earth, Jesus told a story about a shepherd and a lost sheep. He said:
“If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly I say to you, he rejoice more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray” (Matthew 18:12, 13).
Then Jesus drove home His point: “The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (verse 11). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, left heaven to come looking for His lost sheep. No matter how often or how far we wander away, He will always keep searching for us. If we will only let Him, He will seek and save us. He says,
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27, 28).
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He died, that we might live forever. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. . . . I lay down My life for the sheep. . . . I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:11, 15, 10).
If we will follow Him, Jesus will transform our life to be like Him:
“Our Lord Jesus . . . that great Shepherd of the sheep, . . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight” (Hebrews 13:20, 21).
And He is coming again to take us to heaven so that His sheep will be with Him forever.
“When the Chief Shepherd [Jesus] appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).
When we follow our Shepherd, Jehovah Rohi, we will be able to say with King David, “My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:5, 6).