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The Shepherd King

There are few images that invoke a sense of peace better than that of a shepherd watching over his flock, and there are few images that invoke a sense of majesty better than a king sitting on his throne. Our God embodies both of these striking images--the gentle shepherd and the mighty king--and we can take heart knowing that in times of trouble, we can call on the name of our Shepherd King.

Psalm 23 is a well-loved and well-quoted passage of scripture that tells of the peace that all Christians may possess knowing that God is watching over them. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” (ESV Psalms 23:1). There is even a name of God which means “The Lord my Shepherd”--Jehovah Raah. It goes without saying that sheep are not the most intelligent of creatures, and while they conjure thoughts of peace and gentleness, sheep are utterly defenseless against predators. The Shepherd would not only guide his flock to “green pastures” and “still waters” as Psalm 23 describes, but he would also fight battles for his sheep to protect them and keep them safe. When we call upon the name of Jehovah Raah, we are calling on the God who will not only provide for us but protect us from our own enemies as well.

This idea of protection leads to another well-loved Psalm that wonderfully portrays the next name of God, “The Lord of Hosts”--Jehovah Sabaoth. Psalm 46 begins, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” and later states, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (ESV Psalms 46:1&7). So our mighty God is not only a gentle shepherd guarding His flock. He is the leader of Angel Armies, a fortress for His beloved children, and a powerful foe to any who would stand against us. Christians are able to rest easy knowing that their Heavenly Father is a conqueror and a King above all others. When He establishes His kingdom, it will not fail because no power on Earth can stand against the one who we call Jehovah Sabaoth.

In the middle of our mess, in the middle of our incapability to deal with life, God is a Shepherd and a King. He is ready to guide us through life, to lead us to things better than we could ever imagine for ourselves, and while the road may not be easy, we can call on Him to keep us safe. He is also our defender with a host of angels ready to defend His children. So when we are afraid or when we think that we cannot measure up to what life demands of us, we know that we belong to an already victorious kingdom. There is nothing that God cannot do for the ones He loves.

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