By Kathi Pelton
As I spent time with the Lord this morning I heard these words, “Comfort my people.” I then asked, “How am I to comfort them?” He answered, “With my promise.” Then I heard the words from Psalm 23 that say,
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4
What does it mean when he says that his rod and staff comfort me? As we know, Psalm 23 is written from the perspective of a “Shepherd” (The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…). For a shepherd, the rod and staff are used for a number of different purposes. Here are a few:
• To defend the sheep against an approaching predator.
• To count the herd— assuring that not one has gone missing.
• To guide and redirect if one begins to wander away or move toward a path that can harm it.
• To catch a sheep without startling it (like an extended arm that does not violate its “flight zone” so that it does not lose balance).
The Lord’s promise is to always have his rod in hand and near us as we walk though the rough terrain of life on earth. We can take comfort that he is with us to defend and protect us from every predator that is approaching to bring us harm. Often, sheep will have their heads down but the shepherd is always on the lookout for what is happening all around. We can be comforted by knowing that his watchful eyes are upon us always— with his rod ready to defend us.
The Lord is also always aware of the one who has wandered away— he will leave the ninety-nine (in a place of safety) to go find the one.
He is aware of where are feet are about to step and the obstacles upon the path before us. Whenever my steps are redirected or I experience delay or a closed door— I do not automatically assume that the enemy is blocking me, I first ask my Good Shepherd if he is redirecting my path because I was about to walk upon ground that would could harm me. I have found that more often than not, I am being protected by God, not opposed by the enemy— but always ask for wisdom and understanding.
Lastly, God is a gentle shepherd. He understands that we “spook” easily. In his wisdom and love, he uses his rod as an extended arm to gently move us because if we bolt or go into “flight mode”, it can cause us to lose our balance and fall or run away. He does not grab us but rather reaches for us.
It is also interesting that Aaron’s rod was used for miracles that helped deliver God’s people from captivity and oppression. God’s rod does the same for his people today.
The staff also had similar uses, although it can denote a tool that helps the weary in their walk. It is something to “lean upon” and it can be used to hang a lantern upon when darkness comes. The Lord is our staff that gives us strength and takes the heavy burden from us. He is the constant presence for us to lean and depend upon and he is our light in the darkness. This reality comforts us.
If you need comfort today in your journey— his rod and staff are present to “comfort you.” Trust in him to be the rod and staff that you need to help you, guide/direct you, balance you, protect you and deliver you. Trust him to shepherd your children and your loved ones. His arm is extended and his watchful eyes are always upon the sheep of his fold.
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