Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa. 23:4)
I noted in Part 1 that this verse has always intrigued me. How does the shepherd’s rod and staff bring comfort to the sheep? In doing my investigation to answer this question, I discovered the insights of a former real shepherd, Philip Keller from his book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”. He writes the following about the rod and the staff:
Shepherds use a rod to protect the gentle and harmless flock from predators or reprimand unruly sheep that pick on others, eat the wrong plants, or are oblivious to danger. The shepherd parts the sheep’s wool using the rod to look for wounds, disease, and the overall condition of the skin.
The shepherd’s staff is long and slender with a crook on the end. Apart from leaning on it when he is tired, the shepherd uses it to return a lamb to its mother. He will bring a timid sheep closer to him or guide the flock into new pasture or through a gate. The staff frees sheep from bushes or lifts them out of water when they stray too far and get into trouble.
Sheep regularly see the shepherd use the rod and staff to protect, guide, lead, and get them out of jams. They are familiar with the care he provides and learn to depend on him for their safety.
The question arises, “Shouldn’t we believe that our Master Shepherd has the same compassion for what happens to us?” He wants us to allow ourselves to be guided and cared for by Him. If we place ourselves in the hands of the Lord our Shepherd we will find safety, security and comfort. If we allow Him to guide our footsteps we will have no fear of harm because under us are His everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (2 Cor. 1:3)
You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. (Ps. 71:21)
In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Ps. 94:19)
This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life. (Ps. 119:50)
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Ps. 4:8)