From the Shepherd to the Father, writer Rachel Peddar explains how the different names we have for God reveal more about his character and what they say about us too.

Greetings are important in most cultures. The traditional greeting in isiZulu, the tribal language of Kwazulu-Natal, in South Africa is “Sawubona”, which means “I see you”. I think this is a beautiful phrase with its meaning, and when I was a missionary in the children’s village, I earned the nickname “Sanbonani”, which is the plural version of the greeting “I see you” for a group. I regularly addressed groups of children and their caregivers with this greeting as I wanted to convey acceptance as well as the fact that I saw them, each of them.


Source: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels

In Genesis we see one of God’s names as El Roi, Jehovah El Roi, when Hagar is seen and spoken to by God. Jehovah El Roi is the God who sees us in our circumstances, whether they be joy filled or challenging and everything in between. God sees Hagar in her distress and isolation. We too can relate to the God who sees us. God not only sees us, but he is sovereign over our circumstances and greatly cares about us. In Exodus, we learn that he sees, he hears, and he is concerned about his people.

Some people struggle to call God Father and although he is our heavenly Father, Jesus called him “Abba” meaning “Daddy”. This name also conjures up the gentler aspect of God’s character. Our Father God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. We can approach our heavenly Father with confidence knowing that He longs to spend time with us, hear from us and give us good gifts.

Calling God “Abba” or “Daddy” conjures up the gentler aspect of God’s character; compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Another gentle, meek name for God is the Lord, our Shepherd. This name includes the title of Lord. This is respectful, another name for master. This way we recognise that God is our master, he is in charge and in control of all things. He is the good shepherd, and I am his lamb. There are many references in scripture about God as Shepherd, caring but strong and leading. I frequently pray for God’s guidance and leading, particularly when I have decisions to make, and situations are unclear. Psalm 23 gives vivid imagery of our Shepherd’s loving care, provision and leading.

I still like to remember that God is sovereignly and wholly in control of all things. He is the Creator God, Maker of all things, the slain Lamb, and the Lion of Judah, or if you prefer, as CS Lewis quipped, the Great Aslan (Persian for lion). He is the King of the Universe. This imagery of the great Lion reminds me that he is all powerful, mighty, and strong to conquer all things.

We can speak with him, praise and adore him for who he is in all the different dimensions of his character and reminding ourselves of our identity in him.

Since God is King, that makes us as his children royalty! We can lift our heads high, knowing that we are God’s royal children, treasured and precious to him. We can relate to God in the different aspects of his character and with his different names. We can speak with him, praise and adore him for who he is in all the different dimensions of his character and reminding ourselves of our identity in him and our position before him. As we recall his character in its vast array, this should fuel our faith-based prayers, our adoration and proclamation of him. This should also grow our faith and trust in him while also boost our confidence in our God given identity. Lost lamb found and lead on the path everlasting. Forgiven sinner, saved by grace alone. Branch of the True Vine, chosen to bear fruit for God’s glory and man’s good. Royal child of the Sovereign God. (space to add your own tagline or motto!)