The second part of Psalm 23:4 reads: “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” When I first studied the message of the 23rd Psalm, I associated the shepherd’s rod as an instrument of chastisement and correction, partly because I read a book written by a shepherd where he pointed out that shepherds would use the rod whenever one of the sheep was being unruly or was bullying others. It should be pretty obvious to all of God’s children that the Lord can and will correct or chastise His children when necessary, for their own good. Nevertheless, in the context of this particular psalm, when the sheep (writer) was going through a dark and frightful valley, what he needed was comfort, not correction. In the laws and rules for living, (commandments) given to God’s people by way of Moses, I found this enlightening verse: “Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord.” (Lev. 27:32) So here we see that the shepherd, among other things, used his rod to count his sheep. When I visualize the 23rd Psalm, I see the sheep (David) very much aware that the Shepherd is counting him as one of His own, and that gives him great comfort. Does the knowledge that you belong to the Lord not give you comfort? In the New Testament, Paul pointed out that same comforting truth when he wrote: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8) The second member of this comforting duo is the Shepherd’s staff. The Shepherd’s staff represents power. With it, the shepherds would defend and drive away predators that wanted to destroy or kill their sheep. In our lifetime, the enemy, plus many other things, will come against us with the intent of destroying us and keeping us from reaching our heavenly home, our eternal rest. They will never succeed because of our God’s faithful protection and supervision. Some Bible scholars allude that the Lord’s rod and staff represent His Word and His Spirit, and who can find fault with that. After all, how many times have we not been comforted when reading God’s Word, and did not Jesus refer to the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter”? Even though David wrote this psalm around three thousand years ago, the same Lord who comforted him is the One who comforts us today. Among the most valuable possessions we have is the comfort that only He can give. I pray it will lift you up today.
God’s word for today: (2 Corinthians 1:3) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”