The names we are looking at in our series are names given to God because they fit with his nature and character. In the Old Testament’s original Hebrew we have a name for God called the “tetragrammaton” which in Latin script looks like this: YHWH
It appears thousands of times in the Old Testament and is often respectfully translated as “The Lord” (after all, we wouldn’t call the Queen “Elizabeth” but rather “Your Majesty”) but it has also been subject to attempts to pronounce it as a proper name, which is not straightforward due to the complexities of ancient Hebrew!
Two ways of pronouncing it (imagine putting a few vowels in!) are “Yahweh” and Yehowah - and thus, with a bit of Westernisation, “Jehovah”.
So the names we’re looking at in our series begin with “Jehovah” and then are followed by a characteristic of God. This is like saying my name is Simon but someone who knows me might call me “Simon the calm one” or “Simon who plays guitar a bit” or possibly even “Simon Bignose”….
These names we’re looking at, like Jehovah Shalom, begin with “The Lord” or “The Lord God” (Jehovah) but they go on to tell us something about the nature of the Lord, the nature of God.
So where do we find this name “Jehovah Shalom”? It comes from the Old Testament part of the bible in a part called Judges - chapter 6, verses 23 and 24 which you can read here.
A guy called Gideon, had been sent by God to save Israel from its enemies, the Midianites, who were running amok and causing chaos. Gideon has a remarkable encounter with an angel and is afraid for his life but God comforts him and tells him to be at peace (Shalom). Then Gideon builds an altar on the spot and calls it “The Lord is Peace” (that is, he called it “Jehovah Shalom”)
The Lord is peace - “Jehovah Shalom” – a name of God that reveals something of his character. And we find this name elsewhere too – perhaps rather more familiar to us is the name “Prince of Peace”.
“Prince of peace” is one of the prophetic names of Jesus the messiah given by the prophet Isaiah. Prince of Peace is “Sar-shalom” in the Hebrew text - Sar is a term used for different kinds of leader. Shalom means peace and so we have Jehovah Shalom and we have Jesus foretold as “Sar Shalom”.
But shalom means so much more than our word “peace”. What does shalom really mean? So many things! Peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity. It is both blessing and salutation and could be summed up as all-round blessing of wellbeing in all things under God.
If you read through the 23rd Psalm in full (you can read this by clicking here
) you can see where Jehovah Shalom fits into the whole of it, not just in the parts about lying in green pastures and being led beside still waters! Those particular verses do indeed give a picture of peace. But the psalm as a whole is a vision of the full sense of Jehovah Shalom.
However, Jesus told his disciples they would face hatred and trouble in this world and history proves this! We don’t get an easy ride. So that being true of life, what are we to make of this name for God “Jehovah Shalom”?
The point is that despite the troubles we face in life, knowing God, knowing Jehovah Shalom, gives us a sense of a much deeper peace that transcends our daily struggles because God transcends everything and eternity with Him in heaven will transcend anything we face in the meantime. His perspective is so much bigger – and our faith in him can give us a reminder and even a glimpse of things from his perspective.
If we accept and declare “Jehovah Shalom” we gain an overarching peace about the whole of life because we are children of God! Because we are beloved children of the great and mighty and eternal Lord of the universe! Because we are cared for, eternally, by “Jehovah Shalom”. Or to put it another way, in the way a shepherd boy who grew up to be a king might out it, because
“The Lord is my shepherd….”
The whole psalm hinges on David’s initial declaration – The Lord is my shepherd. We might rightly infer “The Lord is my shepherd….” and therefore….
“I shall not want….”
EVERYTHING HINGES ON THIS!
No matter what comes our way, knowing that God is in charge (eternally) gives us an inner peace. Come what may, we are sheep of the Shepherd and will go home with Him.