The Rod and Staff of the Good Shepherd

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

If you are a sheep in the Good Shepherd’s flock, two comforting items are noted in Psalm 23: 4 as provided to you. One is principally defensive, His rod, and one primarily offensive, His staff. They provide two things we sheep, like real sheep, have always needed, protection and guidance. They both provide comfort because one shelters, the rod, and one stimulates, the staff.

Throughout Scripture the rod has represented authority. The authority of the Good Shepherd over the flock indicates. He has the right to govern us just as a shepherd does his sheep.  The rod was used as a defensive weapon to protect the sheep. This is comforting to sheep. Comfort also comes from knowing the shepherd provides guidance.

The rod and staff are property of the shepherd. They belong to the shepherd, not the sheep. One is to ward off predators and the other to mark off pathways. We sheep get in trouble when we try to rely on our own defense and guidance. Comfort comes from relying on the Good Shepherd for both.

In our western culture shepherds drive their sheep. In the eastern culture in the era of the Bible the shepherd walked in front of the sheep, affording  comforting guidance. He also had the vantage point of being the first to see encroaching danger  as well as direction.

Consider the application of both the rod and staff in your life. In our unstable world is there fear in your life? Throughout Scripture there are “fear nots” postets. Let them be reminders of the protection provided by the Good Shepherd and quell the fears. Knowing He knows what you are facing and cares for you is intended to provide comfort for you.

Are you concerned about an issue posing a need for understanding and guidance? Rely on Him before making the decision and seek His guidance. Uncertainty calls for a source of certainty. Gather all sources related to the issue, evaluate them, pray for His guidance and let Him mark your path. This comforts. 

There is comfort in there being a staff to guide the sheep. A couple of verses earlier in Psalms tells where the Good Shepherd leads. It is beside still water and on paths of righteousness. In your hour of need He still guides in these areas.

Having walked through the valley long known as the Valley of Death, now known as the Wadi (valley) Qelt, that runs from Jerusalem to Jericho, I have seen the evidence of the need for a rod and staff. It is so narrow and steep the sun does not reach its depth at places. The narrow path along a ledge on the side of the cliff drops off precipitously to a great depth. There are caves in which bandits dwelt and other caves occupied by predators. It is a collection of threats requiring protection and guidance.  The text is translated “Yea though,” meaning, even if I am under extreme conditions the Good Shepherd has what is needed to protect and provide for His sheep, you. He will guide you where you can find peace and restoration. Now, with that fact fixed, go forth with comfort.