Signs of New Life in Nissan
When God was ready to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt, He introduced a new calendar order for the months. "The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 'This month (Nissan) is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.'" (Exodus 12:1-2) I believe God wanted the Israelites to associate their deliverance and the Passover they would experience just before leaving Egypt with new beginnings. Spring is a time of new beginnings and a reminder of how all creation has recovered from a death process in order to rise to new life.
In this year (2023), the first month on the Hebrew calendar begins on Wednesday at sunset. It is called Nissan or Abib and is a Hebraic term for when the seeds of the grain have reached their full size. This was demonstrated as the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. God told them, "...When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain of your harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath." (Leviticus 23:10-11) Isn't it amazing that the Promised Land was ripe for harvest when God's people were given it?
The details of God's timing and coordination of the events of each month are amazing! When Nissan began, the children of Israel were told that each Jewish family was to bring a spotless, year-old lamb into the household on the tenth of the month. The lamb was to be cared for until the fourteenth of the month when it would be slaughtered. The blood of that lamb was to be placed on the sides and top of the doorframes of their homes. As the angel of death passed through Egypt to kill their firstborn sons and animals, the children of Israel were protected by the blood of the lamb, and their homes were "passed over." The plague that struck Egypt did not touch the Israelites. In memory of this event, the Israelite families killed a Passover lamb yearly until God stopped the lamb sacrifices by bringing His Son, Jesus, to earth to die once and for all time. He became the true Passover Lamb that redeems us from our sins. As we receive Jesus into our hearts, His blood is applied to the doorframe of our hearts. We become "born again." 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!" And, as a sign that heaven was touching earth, the Lord placed a reminder of our Passover Lamb in the heavens during Nissan. The constellation Aries, the lamb, is prominent in the night sky during this month.
With God, nothing is left to chance. He even assigned a marching order to the children of Israel when they began their journey to the Promised Land. The tribe of Judah was to go out first. The Lord knew that HIs people would face battles on the way to their destination. What better way to overcome the enemy than with praise to the Lord? Judah comes from the Hebrew word Yadah, which means "to praise, to give thanks, and to glorify God." We find two interesting verses in Psalm 114: "When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel His dominion." (Verses 1-2) This means that God lived among them. He chose to dwell in their presence, and they became His dominion on the earth.
Let us rejoice in the reminders that we see of God's redemption and praise Him for what He has done. As spring erupts around us, He is calling each of us to join Him in a journey to our own Promised Land. If we walk in the will of God, He will empower us to live there and partake of the fullness of HIs provisions.
Do I Have What it Takes?
How could it be? It seems like it was just yesterday when I was holding my oldest grandson in my arms. Now, he is on the threshold of entering his teenage years. My grandson, Jack, is starting a new stage of life. Voices from many different spheres of life will be demanding his attention. As he begins to separate from the safety of his home, he will have new decisions to make. According to writers of The Power of the Blessing, Terry and Melissa Bone, our souls ask unique questions at the entrance of each stage of life. The major question asked by a child entering puberty at the beginning of their teen years is, "Do I have what it takes to make it in this world?"
Life is designed to help us discover our true identities—the one God ordained. Along with this, God has a divine destiny for us. His desire is to bless us, as was shown at creation when He created mankind in His image. "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it...’" (Genesis 1:28) The teenage years are critical ones for identity formation. To help in this process, the Lord has assigned certain people, particularly parents and grandparents, to bless them through their words and deeds and to affirm who they are.
The Bones make an interesting analogy in their book that describes a teenager as an arrow, based on Psalm 127:4-5. "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." The Bones say, "Children, like mere sticks in a warrior's hands, require shaping. For a while they are protected in a quiver, but there comes a time when they must be taken from their safe place, loaded into a bow, aimed, and fixed at God's destination for their lives. Puberty is that time. Fathers have spiritual authority to call forth their sons and daughters from childhood into maturity. We like to say that a mother is called to string the bow and a father to shoot the arrow. But to shoot an arrow, it first has to be aimed. The shift in spiritual roles of mothers and fathers during the teen years needs to be accompanied by a shift in our parenting approach from teacher to coach." (Page 81)
We can see this scenario being played out when Jesus went to the Temple to engage with the rabbis. Jesus had to remind His parents of the call on His life. The first recognition of His call came from those outside of His immediate family. Teens are looking for honor from family members who will listen to them. The rabbis in the Temple listened to Jesus because they recognized the insight He had been given.
How can we who have teenagers in our lives encourage and bless them? We can be good listeners. We can be sure that every word we speak to them imparts a sense of value and worth. Birthday parties are meant to impart blessing to children. If a child wanders from the straight path, we can pray for them and forgive and love them. We must always remember that the Lord is on our side and that we partner with Him in helping teenagers realize that they do have what they need in their lives to make it in the world. Not only that, but the Lord does also "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." (Ephesians 3:20)
We can count on the truth that God is a Redeemer! He sent His son, Jesus, to redeem all of us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Even before Jesus came to earth, God was working redemption in the lives of His people. The story of Esther demonstrates this.
Esther and her cousin Mordecai, from the tribe of Benjamin, lived in Persia (Modern day Iran). The generation before them had been exiled to the capital of Susa. Because of her great beauty and sensitivity to the Spirit of God, Esther became queen to King Xerxes without him knowing that she was a Jew. In this position she was introduced to Haman, the second in command to the king. Haman's immense pride, jealousy, and hate for the Jews led him to plot their destruction. We learn that Esther was placed in the palace "for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14) Her cousin Mordecai encourages her to go before the king without being summoned so she could plead for his mercy for her people.
By honoring the king with two exquisite banquets, Esther showed the king her loyalty to him and took advantage of this time to reveal her true identity as a Jew. She also exposed the plan that Haman was about to carry out in killing her and all the Jews in the Persian empire. The king wrote out another decree that allowed the Jews to fight for their lives against those who would attack them. Great fear of the Jews came upon those in the Persian empire, and they won a victory over their enemies. The king gave permission to the Jews to collect plunder from those who were going to kill them. However, no plunder was taken! The Jews understood that doing this would have been an idolatrous action. By not doing so, they could redeem the sin that had taken place years ago.
To understand the redemption that took place, we must look back to the days of King Saul and remember that he was from the tribe of Benjamin. 1 Samuel 15 tells how Saul went to battle against King Agag and the Amalekites. God's instructions to Saul were very clear: "Now go and attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belong to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." (Verse 3) "But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good." (Verse 9)
The prophet Samuel confronted Saul: "Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” (Verse 19) "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." (Verse 22) Saul, representing the tribe of Benjamin, committed a sin of disobedience and arrogance against the Lord by stealing His plunder. As Benjamites, Mordecai and Esther were given the opportunity to redeem the taking of idolatrous plunder by the Benjamite King Saul. Is it not fitting that their enemy, Haman, was an Agagite of the Amalekites? With their actions, the Jews vindicated the tribe of Benjamin and all of Israel and destroyed the descendants of God's enemies.
If we look at the larger context of this story, we can see that Haman represents satanic opposition to the Christian community along with the Jews. We too have redemption from Christ's death on the cross and resurrection. Christ won the battle for us so that we can win plunder for Him through sharing the good news of Jesus with those who need to hear it. We can celebrate this season and rest assured of the Lord's redemption for every season. What an encouragement!
Watchman Anointing for Adar
The final month on the Hebrew calendar, Adar, is upon us. The meaning of this name is strength, and it speaks of the way that God want us to finish the year. To do this, we must be on the watch for what is happening around us. God wants us to see things from His perspective. The Word of God should be our guide to guard over our futures. The events of Adar in the book of Esther demonstrate the importance of the watchman anointing.
In one of the capitals of the Persian empire, a place called Susa, their lived Jewish families who had been deported by Babylon. Having lived there for over 100 years, the Jews had been able to independently run businesses and hold positions in government. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, had an official position among the Jewish captives that required him to be around the king's palace frequently. He developed the skill of watching and listening to what was going on around him.
In the seventh year of King Xerxes reign over the kingdom, Esther became queen of the empire. As a palace official, Mordecai was able to station himself at the king's gate. His watchman anointing became particularly important as he overheard two of the king's eunuchs plotting the death of their king. Mordecai revealed this plot to Esther, who passed the information to the king. Those who plotted evil were executed. The watchman anointing continued to help Mordecai save his people from death that was being plotted by the king's second in command, Haman.
Haman's hate for the Jews compelled him to plan for their destruction. By lot, Adar 13th was selected as the day when the Jews were to be annihilated. Knowing the plan, Mordecai asked Esther to appear before the king and plead for mercy. For anyone who approached the king uninvited, death was the decree. Confident of God's protection for his people, Mordecai reminded Esther of this: "If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14) Esther musters up the courage to approach King Xerxes, tells him the entire story, and the Jews are given permission to kill all those who would come against them on the very day that they were supposed to be destroyed. The triumph of the Jews over evil is still celebrated on the anniversary of their planned destruction. (Adar 14 and 15)
Scripture points out the importance of watching. This is a skill that the Body of Christ needs to develop. What a perfect time to do that during Adar! Let us look at some of the Scriptures:
Everyone who calls himself a Christian has a call to watch and guard their lives and that of our loved ones. Our assignment for this month of Adar is to listen carefully for the Lord's instructions and watch over His Word that we might guard our gates and encourage the Body of Christ with directions that lead us into more intimacy with Him. If we ask for an increase in the watchman anointing, I am sure He will give it to us.
A Sign from God
The word rubble was used by the Old Testament prophets to describe what was left of towns that were being overtaken by the enemy. When Nehemiah and the Jews returned to Jerusalem and attempted to rebuild the city walls, they were harassed by Sanballat, an official of a surrounding nation who was angry at the progress they were making. His words were meant to ridicule and discourage them. He shouted, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Can they bring the stones back to life from these heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” (Nehemiah 4:2)
This story came to my mind when I read the news about the birth of a baby girl under the rubble of the earthquake in northern Syria. A 7.8-magnitude quake hit parts of Turkey and Syria on February 6. In the town of Jinderis, Syria, an entire family, except the pregnant mother, was killed when their five-story apartment building came down on top of them. Ten hours after the quake, search and rescue teams heard the sound of a baby crying and dug her out of the rubble. What they found was amazing! Apparently, the baby's mother, Abu Hadija, gave birth to her while conscious and still buried in the rubble. Abu died before rescuers found her. The child was discovered with the umbilical cord still connected to her mother. Destruction and rubble would not stop the birth of this baby.
She was taken to the hospital cold and barely breathing, with her body covered in bumps and bruises. However, she is recovering and has been aptly named Aya, meaning "a sign from God." Indeed, this is a sign from God that new life can come from the rubble around us, whether physical or spiritual. With death and destruction everywhere, God demonstrated His mercy and love in the birth of a child who will be part of the next generation to rebuild life.
Processing great losses such as have occurred in Turkey and Syria is not easy. However, we can be encouraged by the stories of loss and recovery in the Bible. Job is one such story. Job's faith and trust in God was strong throughout an extremely difficult season. He had a proper perspective on the sovereignty of the Lord though in one day, he lost his livestock, his children, and their home. Yet, Scripture says, "At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'" (Job 1:20-21) Job endured more losses and trials until God restored his prosperity and "gave him twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:10)
There is a multitude of people in Turkey and Syria who do not know the Lord. I am sure they are overwhelmed with shock and trauma from all of the death and loss that came with the earthquake. How can we help? Of course, there is a great financial need. There are Christian organizations on the ground in the region now who can use support. Most of us cannot physically travel to the Middle East to help, but we can pray. Our prayers for individuals to get the assistance that they need along with the love of Christ can change lives. Let us remember that God is the God of redemption and that He will use this situation to introduce Himself to those who are lost without Him. Perhaps He has already shown Himself to baby Aya and that one day she will be able to testify to the love of the One True God. Let's pray to that end.
February 12th, 2023
Most of the prophets in the Old Testament wrote about a remnant in Israel who would return to the Lord after turning their backs on Him. Micah is one of them. "The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many people like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations in the midst of many peoples..." (Micah 5:7-8)
On Wednesday, February 1, there was a remnant of congress people (16) who met before dawn in the Museum of the Bible. Their unique gathering was called "The National Gathering of Prayer and Repentance." Almost 60 individuals from different nations, organization, and political districts met to humble themselves and seek God's face. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader, Steve Scalise led those who came from Congress. The event, co-hosted by president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, and Pastor Jim Garlow, included Anne Graham Lotz, Ambassador Sam Brownback, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, former congresswoman Michele Backman, and 19-year-old Jacob Kersey, the young man who resigned from the Georgia police department after coming under fire for posting a Bible verse about marriage.
As they prayed, many confessed our sins and asked God for wisdom. Congresswoman Mary Miller (IL) humbly asked God to intervene and deliver us from going our own way and thinking our own thoughts. She cried out, "Help us to acknowledge our need of You, our need to weep and mourn over our pride, our immorality, child abuse, and idolatry. Draw us back to You and to Your Word." Representative Daniel Bishop (NC) prayed, "We repent for acquiescing in the status quo. Forgive us for our lack of courage, our resignation, our cynicism, our hopelessness, our narrow self-interest, and ambitions. Forgive us for making our government an idol and then for turning a blind eye as its instrumentalities have accumulated power and turned it against the humanity, the dignity, and the rights with which You endowed the people."
Leader Steve Scalise read from Psalm 33. In this psalm we are told to sing a new song to the Lord. It continues: "For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love...Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people revere Him...Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance...But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You."
Truly, the Lord is the only hope for our nation. I am sure He heard the prayers of the remnant who met at the Bible Museum. We must join in their prayers of confessions and repentance to our God. We must pray for the fear of the Lord to fall upon the people of the United States of America and that all of us would revere Him.
Blessings on the Next Generation
Tragedy struck in Israel last week! A 21-year-old Palestinian man planned to attack Jewish families as they exited their synagogue in Jerusalem. Seven Israelis were killed and three injured by this young man. Since that attack videos and photos showing Palestinians celebrating these murders have been played around the world. Tensions are high as we see that violence against innocent people seems to be the new normal.
United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken traveled to Israel and expressed his administration's views on how to advance peace. He suggested that improving the daily lives of Palestinians in the "West Bank" and Gaza and realizing a two-state vision would do so. My opinion is that these suggestions are like putting a small band-aid on a large, open wound.
There is a root issue that is being ignored as we try to solve the problem of growing violence in communities all around the world. At the risk of oversimplifying this problem, I want to share a deeper issue that has grown over the years and has created a huge void in the lives of young people. It seems to me that many of the young people in our society are part of a lost generation. They are in desperate need of families who bless and impart to them a sense of purpose, identity, and destiny for their lives. God's plan is to bless every child born on the earth. Ephesians 1:3 says it well: "Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful heavenly Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus—all because He sees us wrapped into Christ. This is why we celebrate Him with all our hearts!" (TPT)
Who is affirming the call and sense of destiny that our children have through Christ? Terry and Melissa Bone authored a book called The Power of the Blessing. They ask, "How do our heavenly blessings get transported to earth?" The answer: "Through words! Words we speak are vehicles that transport spiritual blessings from heaven to earth. They transform the promises of God from potential in heaven to power on earth."
In the Jewish culture, when a child turns13 there is a ceremony to mark their transition into maturity and to bless them on their next stages of life. This ancient rite of passage is called bar mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls. Family and friends and leaders of their synagogue join together to celebrate the child and impart blessings to them. The key is to affirm them in the call on their lives, to give them a sense of purpose, and to assure them that they are loved and supported.
I cannot help but wonder: If all the cultures in the world adopted this form of blessing for their teenagers, would it not make a difference in their self-esteem and sense of purpose, and in the way they integrate into society? Such an encouraging life event for these young people might completely change the way they think. We might see the manifestation of love and peace instead of hate and violence. For children who are missing parents, and even for those who have them, this could be a place where the Church steps into the gap and implements a blessing time for the young ones in their care. We must sow into the next generation! Without our doing so, we will have a lost one that cannot find their God-given purpose on earth.
Righteousness in Shevat
The eleventh month on the Hebrew calendar, Shevat, started one week ago. Tzadik is the letter in the Hebrew alphabet for this month and symbolizes "The Righteous One." Jeremiah prophesied the coming of the Righteous One in chapter 23 of his book. The chapter is titled "The Righteous Branch." "'I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,' declares the Lord. 'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.'" (Jeremiah 23:3-6)
This description of our Savior as the Branch is quite interesting to me since on the fifteenth of Shevat the Jews celebrate what they call, "The New Year of the Trees" or "Tu B-Sh'vat." Rabbis used this date to determine the beginning of the agricultural cycle for Biblical tithes of fruit. The most important part of a tree's structure is its root system. The roots feed the branches that produce leaves and fruit. Their job, in addition to anchoring the tree, is to take in water and nutrients that help the branches grow healthy and strong and produce good fruit. That is why the location for a tree is critical. Farmers prepare their soil by adding organic matter to it. They may also look for a planting location near the water so that their trees can be well irrigated.
Did you know that in the prophetic realm large, leafy trees represent powerful and prosperous kingdoms? (The Prophets Dictionary, by Paula A. Price, PhD) Chuck Pierce's book, When God Speaks, says that trees also represent people. Kingdoms are made up of people, each one making a contribution to their kingdom. As children of the Kingdom of Light, we must be rooted in fertile soil. Colossians 2:6-7 gives us directions on where to root. "So then, just as you receive Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." If we are rooted in Christ then we take in His love and righteousness and are destined to produce good fruit, "...fruit that will last." (John 15:16)
We, as children of the Most High God, (El Elyon) are made in the image of the Lord, Our Righteous Savior. Why is righteousness so important? It means we are in right standing with God and conformed to His image. Our righteousness in God comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Our goal is to become like Him. It is available to us as it says in Romans 3:21-22. "But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through Jesus Christ to all who believe."
There is a promise in Mathew 5:6 for those of us who desire to be like our Savior. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." Are we firmly anchored in Him? Do we take in all the good He has for us? How productive are we? In this month of Shevat, let us be especially mindful of where we are planted, what we take in, and how we use what our Righteous Lord provides so that we can produce good fruit for the Kingdom of Light. God bless you.
He Who Ascends - "Olah"
In the region of Moriah on Mt. Zion, two significant events took place. This spot, chosen by God, is one where burnt offerings were offered to Him. This type of offering gave off smoke that ascended to heaven. The purpose of the burnt offerings was to make atonement for the people and to present an aroma pleasing to the Lord. (Leviticus 6) Two individuals in the family line of Jesus were told to ascend the mountain for the purpose of giving God burnt offerings. We should note that since the location was on a mountain, one had to go up. Abraham, the Father of our faith, was the first one to ascend the mountain with his son Isaac. He had been instructed to offer his only son as a burnt offering. The Hebrew word for burnt offering used in this Genesis 22 story is "Olah." Rabbi Jonathan Cahn explains, "Olah is the whole offering because it ascends."
Years later, King David found himself in the same place where Abraham had ascended to present God with a burnt offering. David had committed a sin against the Lord by taking a census of his fighting men. A plague was sent to the land of Israel as a punishment for David's sin. Seventy thousand people died until God had mercy on them. David was instructed to "Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." (2 Samuel 24:18) "David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped." (2 Samuel 24:25) 1 Chronicles 22:1 tells us God's intention for this spot. "The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel."
The Jewish people who lived in Israel were required to "go up" to Jerusalem to present their offerings to the Lord at the temple built on this sacred spot. Scripture tells us multiple times that Jesus went up to Jerusalem to the temple. Ultimately, He would go up the mountain to become the very offering that ascended into the heavens. Actually, the entire life of Jesus was an "olah." Jesus did this by offering His life as a sacrifice. He died to His own will and gave Himself completely to Father God, becoming a forerunner for us.
In King David's Psalm 24 there is a question that we should pay attention to: "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place?" The Passion Translation says it this way: "Who, then, ascends into the presence of the Lord? And who has the privilege of entering into God's Holy Place?" Here is the answer: "Those who are clean—whose works and ways are pure, whose hearts are true and sealed by the truth, those who never deceive, whose words are sure. They will receive the Lord's blessing and righteousness given by the Savior-God. They will stand before God, for they seek the pleasure of God's face, the God of Jacob." (Psalm 24:4-6 - TPT)
Proverbs 30:4 also asks a question: "Who has ascended into heaven and descended?" (NKJV) The Hebrew word for ascended in this verse is "Olah." Jesus was sent to earth as an offering that would ascend into the heavens. He is our model for how to live life on earth—how to be an "Olah." He gave up everything to ascend as a whole offering. He was exalted as He bowed low. We are called to live as Jesus did, dying to the flesh and giving ourselves completely to God. It is the only way to go up!
Psalm 23 - A Psalm for 2023
The author of Psalm 100 wrote in verse 3, "Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His, we are the people, the sheep of His pasture." The psalmist makes our identity clear in reminding us that we are His. Therefore, our lives must reflect our Maker. In addition, we should acknowledge that we belong to Him and that everything we have belongs to Him. It is in our surrender to these truths that we obtain peace and wholeness in our lives.
David's Psalm 23 shows us the covenant blessings that God, our Shepherd, gives to us, His sheep, as we have relationship with Him. Recently, Robert Heidler, Pastor of Glory of Zion Ministries, gave a teaching on Psalm 23 and pointed out how the covenant names of God are displayed in each verse. Let us look at the names of God as they apply to Psalm 23. Each name begins with Yahweh, meaning "To Be." However, it is commonly translated "The Lord."
Verse 1 (TPT): "The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd." - Yahweh Rohi (The Lord is my Shepherd) The footnotes in The Passion Translation explain that shepherd is taken from the root word "ra'ah," which is also the Hebrew word for "best friend."
"I always have more than enough." - Yahweh Jaira (The Lord is my Provider) Shepherd can also be translated "No lack."
Verse 2 (NIV): "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul." - Yahweh Shalom (The Lord my Peace, Provider, Satisfaction) and Yahweh Rapha (The Lord Our Healer) The Lord's abiding presence sets us free from fears and brings quiet, contentment, and satisfaction.
Verse 3b (TPT): "He opens before me pathways to God's pleasure and leads me along His footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to His name." Yahweh Tsidkenu (The Lord my Righteousness) The footnote in The Passion Translation enlightens us about the translation of this name. It could say, "He leads me on the circular paths of righteousness." Apparently, it is common for sheep to circle the hillsides of Israel as they climb higher. The shepherd is the one who leads us higher in the path that is set before us.
Verse 4 (NIV): "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me." - Yahweh Shammeh (The Lord is There or Present with Me) The rod speaks of the spoken Word of God and denotes authority. Thus, The Scriptures are God's rod. The staff represents patience and kindness and is symbolic of the Spirit of God. Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. (John 16:13)
Verse 5 (NIV): "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." - Yahweh Nissi (The Lord my Banner of Victory) and Yahweh M'Kaddesh (The Lord Makes us Holy) Jesus came that we would have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) His Spirit is represented by oil. Our cup overflows with His life and blessings so that we are overcomers.
Verse 6 (TPT): "So why should I fear the future. For Your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I'll return to Your glorious presence to be forever with you!" Yahweh Tsuri (The Lord is My Rock)
All that we need while living on earth is in the Lord. He made Covenant with us, His sheep, and cares for us in multiple ways. Through submission to our Shepherd, we have assurance of His never-ending love and protection. Not only is He our Maker; He is our Redeemer and the Lover of our Souls. All praise and honor are due His name.
Joan E. Mathias