The Rod and the Staff
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4
One of the greatest chapters of encouragement is Ps. 23. It is one of a trilogy of Psalms affectionately known as the Shepherd Psalms. Ps. 22 is a messianic Psalm that prophetically speaks of the sufferings of Christ and portrays Him as the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep. Ps. 24 is also messianic in nature and speaks of Christ as our Chief Shepherd and the King of glory. Ps. 23 speaks of Christ as our Great Shepherd. Heb. 13:20-21 speaks of Christ as the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant makes “…you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight…” This morning, let us see and be thankful for the rod and the staff of our Shepherd.
We see the pilgrim and the unavoidable DILEMMA.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Ps. 23 pictures a pilgrim walking through the difficult challenges of life. The greatest and most difficult challenge each of us faces is the certainty of death. We do not like to think of or discuss death. It is a morbid and frightening thought. Yet, it is a part of God’s perfect will for us. David speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. The shadow brings doubts, fears, panic, and sorrow to us. We are more afraid of the shadow than we are of the event itself. A pilgrim walking through a valley feared what waited for him around the bend. When we face very difficult dilemmas in our lives, our minds and our judgment can become cloudy and undiscerning.
We see the pilgrim and his unwavering DECISION.
The pilgrim is facing his unavoidable dilemma, but he is committed to an unwavering decision. He has proven God to make him lie down in green pastures, to lead him beside still waters and paths of righteousness, and to continuously restore his soul. Now, in the greatest challenge ever, he is emphatic about his faith in the Shepherd. He has faith in God’s presence. Thou art with me! He has faith in God’s performance. I will fear no evil! He has faith in God’s plan! He is walking through a valley filled with more shadow than sunshine. He has confidence in the Lord’s love, the Lord’s leading, and the Lord’s leverage. He sees God leveraging this situation to make him a stronger and more faithful pilgrim. Let us remember that faith is a decision. It is deciding to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Instead of being intimidated by the valley he was in, he remained resolutely fearless because of an unwavering faith.
We see the pilgrim and his undeniable DELIGHT.
“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” The shepherd’s rod was used to fend off predators that attacked. The shepherd’s staff was his walking stick. The staff was used to rescue sheep that wandered off and needed to be pulled back in. How could these wooden apparatus give comfort? They point to a shepherd who had authority, power, and care. The pilgrim knew that he was always in the eyesight of his Shepherd and that he was safe and well with the shepherd nearby. Comfort is the absence of anxiety, worry, and sorrow. Comfort is absolute peace. Comfort is having peace like a river. Comfort is not having a troubled heart, but instead having a trusting heart.
To a fearful person, the rod and the staff seem so intimidating. However, to a trusting pilgrim they are symbols of care, comfort, and protection. Take a moment today to thank the Lord for the rod and staff He uses to comfort us.
Have a comforted God Morning!