Jehovah rohi – The LORD is my Shepherd

Strictly speaking, Jehovah rohi is the beginning phrase of Psalm 23, the LORD is my shepherd. It combines the personal name of God, Yahweh (or Jehovah), with the descriptive name of God, rohi or ro‘i, meaning, “my Shepherd.” Elsewhere God is simply called the Shepherd.

The root word ra‘ah means to feed and tend domestic animals by pasturing them. This name speaks of God caring for His people in practical ways as well as providing spiritual sustenance.

Jehovah rohi, like many of the Hebrew names for God, can be written in different ways. Yahweh ro‘i is another option. The differences have to do with the way the languages of the Bible are written in English and the choice we make about how to pronounce YHWH, the letters of the personal name of God.

LORD is my shepherd in Hebrew:

A picture of the Hebrew text including "Yahweh (is) my Shepherd" in Psalm 23:1

Yahweh (is) my Shepherd in Psalm 23:1

Jehovah rohi or Yahweh ro‘i

Strong’s Concordance numbers: 3068, 7462a

Bible references: Gen. 48:15; Ps. 23:1; Zech. 13:7

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(Ps. 23:1-3 KJV)

David was not the first person to call God, “Shepherd.” Israel (Jacob) called God “my Shepherd” and “the shepherd, the stone of Israel” (Gen. 48:15; 49:24). Another psalmist called God “Shepherd of Israel” (Ps. 80:1). Ezekiel combined the roles of shepherd, servant, and prince in his prophecy of the coming Messiah (Ezek. 34:23-24; 37:24-25).

Matthew reminded his readers of the prophecy in Micah in which God said to Bethlehem, “out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6 from Mic. 5:2). Jesus was born in Bethlehem, of the line of David. He was the last great shepherd-ruler.

God, through Zechariah the prophet, foretold of the time when Jesus’ disciples would scatter because of Jesus’ arrest. It was the beginning of the punishments that Jesus would bear in our place.

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
And against* the man, My Associate,”
Declares the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered;
And I will turn My hand against the little ones.”
(Zech. 13:7)

The New Testament gives a few shepherd names to Jesus: Good Shepherd, Great Shepherd of the sheep, Shepherd and guardian of our souls, and Chief Shepherd.

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