Names of God Day 4: Jehovah Rapha
“O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” (Psalm 30:2, ESV)
The power of God is displayed to us in many ways, but one that is particularly incredible is His power to heal. Scripture teaches us about God as Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals, and it is an abundant blessing that this is part of God’s nature.
The first time God calls Himself by this title is in Exodus 15. He spoke these words to the Israelites:
“If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer” (v.26).
Clearly, the Lord is speaking of physical healing/protection in this verse, but rapha (the Hebrew word meaning “to restore” or “to heal”) can also refer to spiritual healing. Bible commentators have assessed that, based on the many uses of rapha in the Old Testament (specifically about God, or otherwise), it refers to both types of healing. And overall, rapha indicates the restoration of something to be good and useful. One commentator explained:
“Clearly God alone is the source of all healing (even if He chooses to use human vessels or other means). Echoing a similar usage of ‘rapha’ in the Psalms, David cries out to Jehovah Rapha, ‘O Jehovah, be gracious to me. Heal (rapha) my soul, for I have sinned against You,’ here referring to spiritual healing.”
Additionally, as seen in its translation to Greek (iaomai), a word used for God’s healing in the New Testament, there is no question that spiritual healing is also in view.
“In the New Testament, 1 Peter 2:24 uses the same verb ‘iaomai,’ explaining that ‘by His (Jehovah Rapha’s) wounds you were healed’ (‘iaomai’—quoting Isaiah 53:5, which uses ‘rapha’ for ‘healed’). In context, Peter is clearly speaking not of physical, but spiritual healing.”
So the Lord Jesus, God manifested in the flesh, is also our Healer. He was the one who came to heal us in the most important way, by taking our sin upon Himself to cleanse us from it eternally.
Do we see the healing of God in our lives today? As we’ve already noted, we see it in salvation. Even though the Scriptural uses of Jehovah Rapha most often refer to the Lord’s physical healing, it would be a mistake to think that that is what’s most important.
God’s Word tells us that we are dead in our sins—without hope. But Christ revealed to us Jehovah Rapha; He took our place, bore our sins, and paid the punishment for them so that we can receive healing (1 Peter 2:24). There is no greater healing we could ever experience than that of the cross of Christ.
However, we cannot minimize the incredible power of God to physically heal. In the Old Testament, for example, God healed king Hezekiah, who had become so sick he was dying. The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal [rapha] you” (2 Kings 20:5).
In the New Testament, Jesus, showing Himself to be God, also healed many people. Luke wrote about those who came from many places to see Him, saying, “[The multitude] came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases… And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all” (6:18,19).
This is our same God, our same Savior and Healer. Just as He had the power to heal then, He does today. Many of us have had the privilege of witnessing that in our own lives or the lives of people we love. Praise Him for that!
And what’s also incredible is that He invites us to be a part of it through prayer. James reminds us:
“Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (5:16, NIV).
Sometimes (and especially in regard to healing, it seems) God answers our prayers differently than we want. But even in the depth of whatever sorrow we face, He is good. He is faithful. He has purpose in every single thing He does. We can fully lean on that—on Him. A man in the Bible named Job knew this very well:
“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
“Though he [God] slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).
We must choose to remember God’s love and faithfulness; it’s in everything He does. And, as the psalmist wrote, we must turn to Him in His Word. That is how we will know Him— Jehovah Rapha, the One who heals (but even when He chooses not to, the One who is always faithful).
“They cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” (Psalm 107:19-20).