Thursday, February 22, 2018

Name Above All Names: Devotions for Lent--Good Shepherd

artwork by Krista Hamrick

NASB: I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

Amplified: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep.

J. B. Phillips: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will give his life for the sake of his sheep.

The Message: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most beloved scripture about our Good Shepherd. Ask people which scripture they love the most and which has meant most to them and many would point to the Twenty-third Psalm. It has dried many tears and lifted many out of the pits of despair and discouragement. This small Psalm deals with almost every adverse circumstance in life and how to win over it.

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe writes: "The present tense verb “is” means, “the Lord is shepherding me,” indicating an ongoing relationship. Eastern shepherds guarded their sheep, led them, provided food and water for them; took care of them when they were wearied, bruised, cut or sick; rescued them when they strayed; knew their names; assisted in delivering the lambs; and in every way simply loved them."

JEHOVAH-RA’AH—the Lord is my shepherd—(Psalm 23:1)
NASB: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
LEB: Yahweh is my shepherd; I will not lack for anything.
TLB: Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
MSG: God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
NOG: Yahweh is my Roeh. I am never in need.
NET: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

The LORD is MY Shepherd = Jehovah Roi. He is not just "a" Shepherd or "Israel's" Shepherd, but is my own personal Shepherd. Jehovah = Covenant name of God, the self-existent & self-sustaining One Who needs nothing and Who possesses everything we need.

Psalm 23:1—The present tense verb “is” means, “the Lord is shepherding me,” indicating an ongoing relationship. Eastern shepherds guarded their sheep, led them, provided food and water for them; took care of them when they were wearied, bruised, cut or sick; rescued them when they strayed; knew their names; assisted in delivering the lambs; and in every way simply loved them.

23:2—The word translated, “leads,” in verse 2 means “to lead gently.” You cannot drive sheep. The sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and follow him, just as we listen to Christ in His Word and obey Him.

23:3—God cares for us because He loves us and wants us to glorify Him. The shepherd cares for his sheep because he loves them and wants to maintain his own good reputation as a faithful shepherd.

23:4a—This is the central verse of the psalm, and the personal pronoun changes from “he” to “you.” David is not speaking about the shepherd, but speaking to the shepherd. In the dark valley, God is not before us but beside us, leading the way and calming our fears. The “darkest valley” represents any difficult experience of life that makes us afraid, and that includes death.

23:4b—Sheep lack good vision and are easily frightened in new circumstances, especially when it’s dark. The presence of the shepherd calms them.

23:4c—The rod was a heavy cudgel with which the shepherd could stun or kill an attacking beast, and the staff was the shepherd’s crook, which he used to assist the individual sheep.

23:5a—Another word for “feast” is “table.” This table doesn’t necessarily refer to a piece of furniture used by humans, for the word simply means, “something spread out.” Flat places in the hilly country were called “tables,” and sometimes the shepherd stopped the flock at these “tables” and allowed them to eat and rest as they headed for the fold.

23:5b—The shepherd would examine the sheep as they entered the fold to be sure none of them was bruised, injured, or sick from eating a poisonous plant. To the wounds, he applied the soothing oil, and for the thirsty, he had his large two-handled cup filled with water. He would also apply the oil to the heads and the horns of the sheep to help keep the flies and other insects away. The sheep knew they were safe, and they could sleep without fear.

23:6—As the shepherd lay each night at the door of the sheepfold, he looked back over the day and gave thanks that the Lord had blessed them with goodness and mercy. Dr. Harry Ironside used to say that goodness and mercy are the two sheepdogs that help keep the sheep where they belong. We live our lives one day at a time, because God built the universe to run one day at a time. There must be a time for labor and a time for rest. When we try to live two or three days at a time, we cannot enjoy today. Eventually, this catches up with us physically, emotionally and spiritually. As an old man, David looked back over his long life and came to the same conclusion. In spite of his sins and failures, he had been followed by goodness and mercy, which is the Old Testament equivalent of Romans 8:28. Under the old covenant, the sheep died for the shepherd,  but under the new covenant, the Shepherd died for the sheep—and we shall meet our Shepherd in heaven! “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17). As David looked ahead, he knew he would be in heaven—the Father’s house—forever.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon writes: "
Give me ten million dollars, and one reversal of fortune may scatter it. Give me a spiritual hold on the divine assurance that “the Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” and I am set for life. I cannot go broke with this stock in my hand. I can never be bankrupt with this security...Do not give me ready cash; give me a checkbook and let me withdraw what I need. This is how God works with the believer. God does not immediately transfer the inheritance; He lets us draw what we need out of the riches of His fullness in Christ Jesus. “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” What a glorious inheritance! Walk up and down it. Rest on it. It will be a soft downy pillow for you to lie on. Ask then, Christian, for He is your Shepherd, and you will not want. He will supply your need. He will give you whatever you require. Ask in faith, never doubting, and He will give you what you really need."

Pastor Octavius Winslow writes: "What, then, are some of the attributes of the Lord our Shepherd? Christ is a Divine Shepherd. We place this view of Christ in the foreground of our exposition. It is the loftiest and sweetest note in our song. Our Shepherd derives His office, authority, and fitness, exclusively from His personal dignity. The entire superstructure of the Work of Christ rests upon the foundation of the Person of Christ. A denial and rejection of the one, involves a denial and rejection of the other- they stand or fall together. The title our psalmist applies to Christ expresses His personal Divinity, "The Lord" -JEHOVAH- "is my Shepherd." Divinity was essential to His office. A mere human shepherd would have been inadequate to the requirements of His office and to the demands of His flock. Divine knowledge is an essential perfection. He must possess a perfect knowledge of His sheep, collectively and individually. He must know their persons, their names, their requirements; in a word, all their individual circumstances, positions, and needs. How else could He meet the demands of each and all of a flock composed of countless numbers, and scattered far and wide over the face of the earth? "I know my sheep," is His own declaration of this glorious truth, and a more precious truth- one more replete with assurance and comfort- never flowed from His grace- anointed lips. My soul, ponder this truth in the light of your individuality, and reason the matter with yourself thus: Jehovah, my Shepherd, knows me individually. He calls me by my name; recognizes my person; is acquainted with my needs; and is cognizant of the path I tread. And although others may but imperfectly know me, or know me not at all; my actions misunderstood, my motives misconstrued; ignorant of my daily cross, my veiled sorrow, and the narrow and difficult path I tread; nevertheless, Jesus the Shepherd has declared; "I know my sheep." Enough, my Lord! Not a path perplexes me; not a cloud shades me; not a difficulty embarrasses me; not a need grieves me; not a grief distresses me; not a being wounds me; but You, the Lord my Shepherd, know it altogether. He knows the way that I take; and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

Pastor Winslow continues: "Our Shepherd claims the verification of these wonderful predictions. "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep." "I lay down my life for the sheep." Oh what a precious view does this present of the love of Christ for the flock of His pasture! We needed a sin-bearing; a sin-atoning; a sin-sacrificing Shepherd; one who by His sinless obedience would honor the rigid claims of the law, and by His sacrificial death would satisfy the righteous demands of Justice; be, the plague of death, and the destruction of the grave, on behalf of His elect church. The Lord our Shepherd did all this. All the sins of His church were made to meet upon Him. Your sins, oh you doubting, trembling sheep! Fear not! Christ, your Redeeming Shepherd, has ransomed you, died for you, has paid all your great debt, has drowned all your sins in the fathomless sea of His blood, and has clothed you with the robe of His righteousness, making you in God's eye lovely through His loveliness put upon you. "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." "MY Shepherd.” It is the privilege of faith to turn a general into a particular truth, a collective blessing into an individual one. The apostle illustrates this, "Who loved ME, and gave Himself for ME." He loves you individually, chose you individually, died for you individually, called you and lives for you individually; and it is your privilege to join in the lofty melody of David the king, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want."

When I am praying, I picture Jesus Christ, my Good Shepherd, in the green pasture of the 23rd Psalm. As I pray, I take whatever concern I have, or the person for whom I am interceding by the hand. I walk out to the meadow, the green pasture, and I place my concern, or the hand of the person for whom I am interceding, in Jesus’ hand…knowing that He is sovereign, He loves me, and He loves the person for whom I am interceding more than I do. He has a plan, a hope, and a future for each of us…and I walk away, thanking God for how He is working in my life and in the lives of those for whom I am interceding. I experience a feeling of peace…as Catherine Marshall prayed,Lord, I trust You…You know what You’re doing…I relinquish my will to Yours.

Good Shepherd,
 we ask you to wrap Your Loving Arms around us today. You are close to the brokenhearted and You save those who are crushed in spirit. You are our Good Shepherd, we lack nothing. You make us lie down in green pastures, You lead us beside the still waters. You restore our souls. You lead us in the path of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for You are with us. You are Emmanuel, God with us, we are absolutely certain, You are with us at this time. Your rod and Your staff, Your Holy Spirit and Your Word, they comfort us. You prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies. You anoint our heads with oil, our cup overflows with blessings. Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Good Shepherd, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on John 10:11

Look In
—as you meditate on John 10:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on John 10:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

* If you liked this post, you'll love this page -- Name Above All Names: Devotions for Lent
* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

How this book came to be...

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference. Krista has said, “This is probably the painting that I have most enjoyed researching, designing, redesigning and painting. Beth Willis Miller has expanded upon each name with devotional word studies. By knowing, believing and trusting who God says He is, we can be confident in who He has created us to be.” I so agree with Krista! 

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available now on Amazon as a softcover book and as a Kindle book at this link

the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with these word study devotionals is perfect for individual quiet reflection or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names—Jesus Christ—and His attributes and characteristics.

Review by Michele Morin: “The infinite variety in nature, the curious complexity of human behavior, the synchronicity of multiple systems in our own anatomy — and in the solar system — all point, through general revelation, to the nature of God: multi-faceted, magnificent, and yet mysterious. Special revelation in Scripture picks up where creation leaves off, and Beth Willis Miller has teamed up with artist Krista Hamrick to focus on twenty-six pieces of evidence in Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ. The result is an alphabetical collection that resembles a twenty-six sided gem, each facet reflecting a slightly different hue of the nature of God the Son. From Alpha and Omega to King of Zion, each devotional highlights the Scriptural basis for the name in multiple translations and then provides commentary on the verses. Beth applies the truth and then invites her readers to join her in a prayer that turns the truth into a paean of praise. No mere academic exercise, the point of Name Above All Names Devotional is threefold:

Look up – Meditate on the name and what it reveals about the character of God.

Look in – I am propelled to ask galvanizing questions about my discoveries: “Because God is ___________________, I should therefore _______________.”

Look out – Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

With full-color art work and space for notes, Name Above All Names Devotional is a treasure for devotional reading, a resource for serious study, and a thoughtful and inspiring gift for loved ones.” (review by Michele Morin)
Weekly LinkUps…


  1. The Good Shepherd is one of my favorite names of the Lord. Probably because I'm such a stubborn sheep. :-)
    Good memories of this book, Beth.

    1. Michele, so good to hear from you! I so agree with you--I identify with those sheep too, and am so grateful for my Loving Shepherd! I can't thank you enough for the outstanding review that you did for my book. You are such a wonderful encourager to me and so many others! Many blessings to you and your sweet family.


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