“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Oh what beauty there is in those classic words so true! How often have we read or heard those words, yet never stopped to fully examine their meaning. The wonderful words from the psalmist David speaks of the rod and staff of Shepherd, equally providing comfort yet each with a separate job to perform. The rod of the shepherd provides protection from the wolves, as a young David so familiarly writes of it giving comfort in safety. The Shepherd acts as a defender from those who would dare steal one of the precious sheep from the flock. The psalmist himself defended his own flock from the hand of both lions and bears (I Samuel 17:36) how much greater protection does the Good Shepherd provide from far more fierce attackers.
Yet at the same time He’s equipped with a staff, that old well-known crook which He so masterfully uses to guide His flock with when they go astray, serving as an instrument of discipline in a time of need. Oh to be disciplined by the Shepherd, knowing that He disciplines the ones He loves (Hebrews 12:6). The sheep of the flock are many, so to know that the Great Shepherd takes time to give special attention to those lambs that are quick to go their own way, is a marvelous expression of love. But such is the responsibility the Shepherd has in providing abundant life to His sheep.
And what a pity those sheep are that the Shepherd tends to. So easily losing their way when they lose sight of their Caregiver. Yet how glorious to know “the sheep hear his voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out when He has brought out all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:2-5) That familiar voice of the Shepherd calls to all those who would be His; He is the door of the sheep and all those that enter through Him will find everlasting pasture. But how amazing is the Shepherd that He lay down His life for His sheep, yet unlike those shepherds of old, He takes His life up again, of His own accord and in this there is one flock, one Shepherd and that Shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Additional Study: John 10:1-18 ESV “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
*image credit: National Geographic (edited)