Healing by the Shepherd’s Side

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

We are all familiar with Psalm 23. Its comforting message is well known even among non-believers. This renowned psalm was written by King David, and its most famous passage is in the opening verse: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The Hebrew word David uses for ‘want’ in this verse indicates lack. David is saying, in other words, “I shall not lack anything.” When we combine this meaning with the first part of the verse, David is saying, “The Lord leads, guides and nourishes me. Because of that, I lack nothing.”

In this brief verse, David gives us yet another reflection of the Lord’s character and nature. The literal Hebrew translation of the first part of this verse is Jehovah Rohi. It means “the Lord, my shepherd.”

Jehovah Rohi is not some benign, passive figure. He isn’t a hireling who does little more than provide food and guidance. He doesn’t merely point us toward the grassy pasture and pools of water and say, “There’s what you need. Go and get it.” Nor does he turn a blind eye to our needs. He doesn’t run the other way when he hears our cries for help and sees us in trouble. No, he knows every pain we endure, every tear we shed, every hurt we feel. He knows when we’re too weary to go another step. He knows just how much we can take. Most of all, he knows how to rescue us and bring us to a place of healing. Time after time, he makes us lie down for a time of healing and restoration.

The Lord our shepherd is compelling us to follow him into his rest. The Lord says in Exodus 29:45, “I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.” The word ‘dwell’ here means “to abide by, or to settle down beside.” This word signifies not just a passing presence but a permanent one, a presence that never leaves. It’s something God imprints permanently on our soul. It’s his very near and eternal presence.

The picture here is glorious: Our shepherd offers to come to us in the midst of our pain and depressed condition and to sit by our side. His powerful and protective presence abides with us and lies down beside us. We have this confidence that our shepherd is among us.