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<< Praying the Names of God, with Ann Spangler

Praying the Names of God - September 29

  • 2014 Sep 29
  • COMMENTS

Week Fifteen, Day One

The Name
For at least part of their history, the Hebrews were a nomadic people who wandered from place to place seeking pasture for their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle. To sustain their livelihood, it was vital for shepherds to keep their animals from straying, protect them from thieves and wild animals, and provide them with plentiful pastures. In the ancient Near East and in Israel itself, "shepherd" eventually became a metaphor for kings. The Hebrew Scriptures speak of God as the Shepherd of his people and apply this image to religious leaders as well. The New Testament presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who protects the lives of his sheep by forfeiting his own life. When you pray to the Lord your Shepherd, you are praying to the One who watches over you day and night, feeding you and leading you safely on the path of  righteousness.

Key Scripture
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake
. (Psalms 23)

***

Monday
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even 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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever. (Psalm 23)

Lord, I praise you for your constant care—for bringing me back when I have wandered from your ways; for nourishing me, body and soul; for protecting me in the dark times; for making me lie down in peace. Because you are my Shepherd, I will fear no evil. Every day of my life will be filled with your goodness and love.Amen.

Understanding the Name

Shepherding was one of the earliest human occupations. A family's wealth was measured by how many sheep, goats, cows, horses, camels, and/or asses a man owned. Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David were all shepherds. Before David fought Goliath, he told Saul: "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it" (1 Samuel 17:34-35).

It was the shepherd's responsibility to count each animal to order to make sure none had gone astray. At night, sheep were kept in simple enclosures, in caves or within walls made from bushes. At times, the shepherd would sleep with his body lying across the gate to the enclosure in order to keep the sheep safe. Though Israel's religious leaders were also referred to as shepherds, they were often chided for their failure to watch over the flock of God. Both then and now Yahweh Roi (yah-WEH row-EE) is the one true Shepherd of his people.

Studying the Name

  1. Read the first three sentences of this familiar psalm slowly, then close your eyes. Imagine that you are the sheep. What do you see? What do you feel?
  2. What does it mean to "restore the soul"? Describe a time when you felt in need of such a restoration.
  3. Read the fourth sentence slowly. Imagine again that you are the sheep. What do you see? What do you feel?
  4. Why do you think the psalmist introduces the imagery of a table?
  5. How would your experience of daily life change if you really believed that goodness and kindness would follow you all the days of your life?

For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.

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