I am continuing on to the next phrase in our 23rd Psalm series. We find ourselves looking at the phrase “Your Rod and Staff, they comfort me”. I am going to break it down in two parts so we can see what the Rod is and represents and then look at the Staff and what it is and represents. Before we dive in I appreciate many of you praying for Tony and I as we traveled the first of this week to North Carolina for his best friends funeral. It has been a difficult but emotional week for us we see God’s great demonstration of grace all over this. While we do not always fully understand things of this nature, we can find much comfort in the love of our Abba Father. He knows what He is doing and will never allow us to hurt needlessly. This world is not our home and we eagerly await our Savior who is Christ the Lord to come and get us as He raptures His church – the Bride of Christ! Take heart…for our Lord is coming soon! We will not be separated very much longer from our loved ones who have gone on before us so take heart and prepare yourselves, Church! Now….back to the 23rd Psalm…
What is the Rod: an extension of the owner’s right arm. It stood as a symbol of his strength, his power, his authority in any serious situation. The rod was what he relied on to safeguard both himself and his flock in danger. And it was, furthermore, the instrument he used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insisted on wandering away.
The sheep asserts that the owner’s rod, his weapon of power, authority, and defense, is a continuous comfort to him. For with it the manager is able to carry out effective control of his flock in every situation.
The rod speaks therefore of the spoken word of God – the expressed intent, the extended activity of God’s mind and will in dealing with men. It implies the authority of divinity. It carries with it the convicting power and irrefutable impact of “Thus saith the Lord.”
Just as there was much comfort and consolation in seeing the rod in the shepherd’s skillful hands, so in our day there is great assurance in our own hearts as we contemplate the power, veracity, and potent authority vested in God’s Word. For in fact, the Scriptures are His rod. They are the extension of His mind and will and intentions to mortal man.
*The 2nd Dimension where the Rod was used by the shepherd for the welfare of his sheep was that of Discipline and for this purpose more than any other. If the shepherd saw a sheep wandering away on its own, or approaching poisonous weeds, or getting too close to danger of one sort or another, the club would go whistling through the air to send the wayward animal scurrying back to the bunch. It has been said of the Scriptures so often, “This Book will keep you from sin!” It is the Word of God that comes swiftly to our hearts, that comes with surprising suddenness to correct and reprove us when we go astray. It is the Spirit of the living God, using the living Word, that convicts our conscience of right conduct. In this way we are kept under control by Christ who wants us to walk in the ways of righteousness.
*The 3rd Dimension is that the rod was used to examine and count the sheep. In the terminology of the Old Testament this was referred to as passing “under the rod” (see Ezekiel 20:37). This meant not only coming under the owner’s control and authority, but also to be subject to his most careful, intimate, and firsthand examination. A sheep that passed “under the rod” was on which had been counted and looked over with great care to make sure all was well with it. Psalm 139:23-24
f we will allow it, if we will submit to it, God by His Word will search us. There will be no “pulling the wool over His eyes.” He will get below the surface, behind the front of our old self life and expose things that need to be made right. This is a process from which we need not shrink. It is not something to avoid. It is done in concern and compassion for our welfare. The Great Shepherd of our souls has our own best interests at heart when he so searches us. What a comfort this should be to the child of God, who can trust in God’s care.
Wool in Scripture speaks of the self-life, self –will, self-assertion, self-pride. God has to get below this and do a deep work in our wills to right the wrongs which are often bothering us beneath the surface. So often we put on a fine front and brave, bold exterior when really deep down below there needs to be some remedy applied.
*The 4th Dimension of use for the rod is as an instrument of protection both for himself and his sheep when they are in danger. It is used both as a defense and a deterrent against anything that would attack.
The skilled shepherd uses his rod to drive off predators like coyotes, wolves, cougars, and stray dogs. Often it is used to beat the brush, discouraging snakes and other creatures from disturbing the flock. In extreme cases, such as David recounted to Saul, the Psalmist no doubt used his rod to attack the lion and the bear that came to raid his flocks.
Your rod…..comfort’s me.” It was the rod ever ready in the shepherd’s hand used in His own encounter with that Serpent – Satan-during His desert temptation. It is the same Word of God which we can count on again and again to counter the assaults and attacks Satan.
Wow! What a Rod we have in the inspired Word of God!