In part 2 of “Your Rod and Staff, They Comfort Me” we are talking about the staff – what is it and what does it represent in our relationship with the Good Shepherd.
More than any other piece of equipment, the Staff identifies the Shepherd as a Shepherd. No one in any other profession carries a staff. It is used uniquely in the care and management of sheep and will not do for the care of horses, cattle, dogs, or any other animal. It is designed, shaped and adapted especially to the needs of sheep and is used only for their benefit.
*The staff is essentially a symbol of the concern and compassion that a shepherd has for his charges. No other single word can better describe its function on behalf of the flock than that it is for their comfort. Whereas the rod conveys the concept of authority, of power, of discipline, of defense against danger, the word “staff” speaks of all that is longsuffering and kind.
As the rod of God is emblematic of the Word of God, the Staff of God is symbolic of the Spirit of God. In Christ’s dealings with us as individuals there is the essence of the sweetness, the comfort and consolation, the gentle correction brought about by the work of His gracious Spirit.
3 Areas of Sheep Management that the Staff plays a most significant role
- Drawing sheep together into intimate relationship. The shepherd will use 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.
- 2.The Staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young or old, and draw them close to himself for intimate examination. The staff is very useful this way for the shy and timid sheep that normally tend to keep at a distance from the shepherd.
- The staff is also used for guiding sheep gently into a new path or through some gate or along dangerous, difficult routes. He does not use it actually to beat the beast. 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. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path.
Interesting sideline – a shepherd will actually hold his staff against the side of some sheep that is a special pet or favorite, simple so that they are “in touch”. They will walk along this way almost as though it were “hand-in-hand.” The sheep obviously enjoys this special attention from the shepherd and revels in the close, personal, intimate contact between them. To be treated in this special way by the shepherd is to know comfort in a deep dimension.
In our walk with God we are told explicitly by Christ Himself that it would be His Spirit who would be sent to guide us and to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. This same gracious Spirit takes the truth of God, the Word of God, and makes it plain to our hearts and minds and spiritual understanding. It is He who gently, tenderly, but persistently says to us, “This is the way-walk in it.” And as we comply and cooperate with His gentle promptings, as sense of safety, comfort, and well-being envelops us. It is He, too, who comes quietly but emphatically to make the life of Christ, my Shepherd, real and personal and intimate to me. Through Him I am “in touch” with Christ. There steals over me the keen awareness that I am His and He is mine. The gracious Spirit continually brings home to me the acute consciousness that I am God’s child and He is my Father. In all of this there is enormous comfort and a sublime sense of “oneness”, of “belonging,” of “being in His care,” and hence the object of His special affection.
Thank you, Jesus for taking really good care of us!