I am linking up with Kerri of A Simple Princess as we continue our journey of finding peace in Psalm 23. Today we are discussing the Shepherd’s rod and staff.
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4b)
When I was a new Christian, this portion of scripture was confusing to me. When I thought of a rod, I thought of a harsh form of discipline or a spiritual spanking. I could not understand how someone could find comfort in a rod of discipline. It wasn’t until I became actively involved as a singer and intercessor in the House of Prayer and began meditating more on this portion of scripture that I came to understand that there is comfort to be found in the Shepherd’s rod, as well as His staff. In our House of Prayer, we like to refer to it as “beautiful boundary lines”.
At a very young age, a shepherd boy selects a rod particularly suited to his own size and strength. Shaped to fit into the owner’s hand, the rod was an extension of it’s owner’s right arm, and stood as a symbol of strength, power and authority. It was used as a means of protection, and as a form of correction to discipline any wandering sheep that would go astray.
My Shepherd, Jesus, disciplines me when I stray away from His path. He does so because He loves me and desires the best for me.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
He also protects me from the schemes of the enemy, by stretching out his rod of protection over me.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
The staff identifies the shepherd as a shepherd. It is a unique instrument used for the care and management of sheep. The staff is normally a long, slender stick with a crook or hook on the end. The shepherd takes great care in selecting his staff, which is shaped, smoothed and cut to his own personal use. The staff is especially comforting to the shepherd, as he leans on it during the long night watch and gains support and strength.
There staff is used to draw sheep together in an intimate relationship. The shepherd uses his staff to gently lift a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become separated. He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her offspring if it bears the odor of his hands upon it.
The staff is also used for guiding sheep gently into a new path or along dangerous routes. He does not use it to inflict pain on the sheep; rather, the tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal’s side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. By this method, the sheep is reassured of its proper path.
My Good Shepherd uses His staff to draw me to Himself, and to gently lead me on the path He has set out for me.
Back to the beautiful boundary lines.
God has given to me specific guidelines to follow. They are outline for me perfectly in His Word. His Word is the road map of my life. When I stray off the path laid out for me in the Word of God, My Shepherd uses the rod to gently nudge me to turn back. Even when I am walking in darkness, His light illuminates my path so that I can find my way home again.
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
(Psalm 119:105 NLT)
God draws me into intimate relationship with Himself through His Word. I think I could live with every other thing but the Word of God. It is my source of strength, my hope in times of distress.
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
Beautiful boundary lines. God has set boundaries for me, parameters which are meant to protect me and keep me safe. Yet, at the same time, He’s given me the freedom to choose how much of these boundaries I want in my life. And even when I choose to cross the boundaries of His safety and comfort, His rod and staff are right there, gently drawing me back into the fold.