March 20, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"Your rod and your staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
A shepherd always carries his "rod and staff," a primary companion and an imperative tool. It is necessary in his care of the sheep. He uses it to discipline the sheep when they get out of line, defend them when they are attacked by dangerous predators, and rescue them from precarious situations. The sheep learn to respect the shepherd's rod and staff. It is a comfort as he uses it to protect them and to guide them in the way they should go.
Ezekiel 20:37 contains a phrase about shepherding: "And I will cause thee to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant." How needful this is in our lives, to pass under the rod of God. Why does God use this expression taken from the shepherd's care of the sheep? "That he might bring us into the bond of the covenant." To the shepherd of a flock, the sheep have to "pass under the rod." This is a needful process whereby the shepherd inspects the sheep as they enter the fold for injuries they might have incurred or anything that would be harmful to them. This instills in the sheep a confidence in the shepherd, for they know that this process is for their good and that he is concerned for them. "Your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
The shepherd's "staff" is a long, slender stick with a hook on the end. A shepherd is never without his rod and staff, for he uses it as his primary tool in caring for the sheep. Often he has to reach down into a dangerous place where a sheep has strayed and is caught in a thicket or bush. He takes his staff with its crook on the end and gently lifts the sheep back to safety; then he returns the sheep to the fold.
He uses his staff to guide the sheep in the way he wants them to go. Sheep are very dumb animals and constantly need the directing touch of the staff upon them. How reassuring to sense the Holy Spirit guiding and saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). How blessed to know the Lord has promised, "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).
He uses his rod and staff to protect and defend the sheep against the wild animals that would attack them in the pastures. It becomes a defensive tool that the Shepherd uses with great skill and effectiveness. Isaiah spoke of the loving care of the shepherd. "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isaiah 40:11).
As the "rod and staff" comforts the sheep, so may our Good Shepherd, through His Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, bring us into an acute consciousness of His presence, protection, and discipline, to guide, defend and comfort us, and to be our strength along the way. Passing under the rod and under His control, we are the objects of His affection. HOW BLESSED TO HIS OWN IS THE ROD AND STAFF OF OUR GOOD SHEPHERD! "Your rod and your staff they comfort me."
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-03-20
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