Thy Rod and Thy Staff

“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4c

A shepherd’s rod and staff had four purposes: protection, guidance, discipline, and giving love.  With the rod the shepherd could beat off a predator and with the staff he could pull a lamb back away from a steep precipice.  He used both to keep the sheep in a line heading towards that peaceful green valley and springs of water.  He used the rod and staff to direct and guide.  And when a lamb refused to stay within the boundary of safety, the rod would be used to break a leg.  The shepherd would then carry the lamb until the leg healed and it would stay near the shepherd who it had grown to depend upon.  Lesser forms of discipline were also inflicted with the rod.  A quick and light hit to the backside would stop a fight, keep a sheep from eating a poisonous plant, and move a sheep on the way.  And the shepherd would use the rod or staff for a backscratcher when he wanted to love his sheep!

God is our Shepherd.  His rod and staff comfort us because we can trust God for His protection, guidance, and discipline and love.  I think that we will all be quite surprised when we get to heaven and will know what all God protected us from.  Here in satan’s domain is danger at every turn.  Nothing is allowed by God into our lives before first going through His hand.  He protects us from those things that will only bring harm or early death.  He allows those things that He can use to train us and guide us and that we will allow to make us dependent upon Him.  God uses His rod to keep us within the boundaries of safety.  His rod is often the Bible.  Therein is  found the moral code and boundaries that are acceptable for a Christian. 

So is every bad thing that happens to me a discipline of the Lord for my bad behavior or attitude?  No!  God also uses the metaphor in John 15 of a vine that needs pruning.  The vine did no wrong, but still needs to be guided and pruned to produce juicy and large fruit.  Sometimes the things that God allows into our lives are pruning tools.  When tough times come, ask God to show you whether you need to repent of sin or whether you need to sit back and listen to what He is trying to teach you.  Approach both with an open and honest heart of humility and the desire to glorify God and you will grow fruit and you will grow closer to God.

Remember: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:11  Be comforted that when you are disciplined by God, it is because you are His son or daughter and He loves you!

 Lastly, the shepherd would use his rod to love on the sheep.  With the tip, he would scratch their bellies or rub their backs.  Encouragement, love, and joy were shared with the rod.

Hint for the Day:  Many parents tell me that they use the Proverbs when disciplining.  This is good, but only when balanced with encouragement from the Word the rest of the time.  If you use the Word of God as a paddle, your children will not have a love for it.  Use God’s Word wisely that your children will desire the deeper truths that are found there.  Words of discipline go much deeper when coupled with encouragement. 

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