Your rod and your staff, they comfort me—Psalm 23:4
David did not write that the Shepherd abuses his sheep, but comforts them and brings them back in line, he does lovingly discipline them and the rod and staff are a means to do so.
Even a good earthly parent knows it is not wise to let the children run wild without direction or loving discipline. It is not hard to tell those who did not come under a parent’s discipline when they were growing up. They wreak havoc in the world, are a nightmare to deal with, and even in their adulthood have no sense of self-discipline or self-control. As Jesus looked out at the crowds in a state of confusion and helplessness, he said they were “like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36)
That little hook at the end of the shepherds staff served a great purpose: it not only brought sheep that were straying back into the fold before they got too far out, but it also saved them from danger they were wandering into, from lostness and confusion in the direction they should be going. The sheep were busy grazing, taking in the sights, visiting with one another, frolicking along without a care in the world, which made them prone to wander, prone to be leave the shepherd’s care, prone to lose their way, oblivious of the dangers in front of them. The fact that the shepherd could save clumsy, wandering sheep was an indication he was always watching over the sheep, day and night.
The straight end was used to get the sheep’s attention, perhaps one or a few were being obstinate, stubborn and did not want to go the way the shepherd and the rest of the flock were going. Perhaps one or more it felt they were the ones leading the flock and not the shepherd. Perhaps some had a rebellious nature. The shepherd knew when the rod should be used, not to break the sheep, but to bring them back to their senses and remind them who was in charge.
What does the Good shepherd’s rod and staff look like for us today? It is those he sends to shepherd us spiritually in life, it is our conscious, and the Holy Spirit; it is the Word of God which is God-breathed and profitable to doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Our Good Shepherd uses his rod and staff as he sees necessary. He knows us better than anyone and because he loves us and knows our very lives (eternity) depend on following his lead therefore he will not stand by and let us go our own way, as though we are sheep without a shepherd, but enlists the rod and staff to bring us back into line, remind us who and whose we are and that we may live in the world but we are not to act like the world. Praise God for our Good Shepherd and his rod and staff. Let’s Pray,
Heavenly Father no good earthly parent will let their child run amuck but make sure to discipline and guide in love. In this way, our Good Shepherd, Jesus, not only watches over us, but uses the rod and staff to keep us in line and moving in the right direction. May we never prove to be obstinate, hard-headed, hard-hearted sheep, but those who take discipline with grace and desire to be I the sheep-fold, never wandering off in our own power of under our own direction. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.