“Your Rod and your Staff, they Comfort Me” – Ps. 23:4b
When the shepherd moves his flock to the mountain pastures, it is customary to take a minimum of equipment. Of course there is his “caboose” or living quarters, but also two essential items in his arsenal are his “rod and staff.” Without these two pieces of equipment he could not adequately defend and protect his sheep.
During the hours he is walking in the field he carries only a rifle slung over his shoulder, a rod, and a small knapsack with water, sandwich, and a few first-aid supplies. In the Middle East, the shepherd carries only a rod and a staff.
The rod is the shepherd’s weapon of power, authority, and defense. He can use it as a club, or throw it with extreme accuracy. You may recall that God used Moses’ rod to demonstrate His power over Egypt and its gods. Therefore, the rod pictures the spoken word and implies the authority of divine power.
Just as the sheep in David’s day were comforted and consoled in seeing the rod in the shepherds hand, so in our day there is great assurance in knowing that the word of God is invested with power, veracity, and authority.
The other item in the shepherd’s arsenal was his staff. The staff had a curved crook on one end designed especially for use with the sheep. The staff revealed the concern and compassion the shepherd had for his charges.
The staff played a significant role in the care of the sheep. First, it was used to bring a newborn lamb close to its mother when hundreds of ewes were lambing together simultaneously. Second, it was used by the shepherd to draw sheep to himself for examination. Third, the staff was used for guiding the sheep.
In like manner, our Comforter, the Holy Spirit draws us together in closer relationship with the Father, guiding and teaching us the Truth, and aiding us in our prayers. (John 16:13)
Prayer: Dear Lord, it is a great comfort to know that our Good Shepherd carries the rod and staff for our protection, discipline, and comfort.