“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.” (Psalm 23:4)
A Good Shepherd uses the “rod”. Sheep can be stubborn animals. They are hard to guide when they have decided on their own way. We are reminded again of Isaiah’s words when he compared us to sheep, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6). In other words, we are a stubborn people…like sheep! We get an idea of what we think life should be like and no one can tell us any different, even God.
However, our God is the Good Shepherd and the Good Shepherd uses a rod to correct the sheep and get them back on the right track. He can also use the rod to get a sheep to move when it is standing still. The rod represents the discipline that it takes to get a wayward and lazy sheep going the right direction. In today’s language it is the proverbial “two by four”!
What does our loving Shepherd have to do to get your attention? And how do you feel when that corrective “poke” comes in your side? The shepherd pokes the sheep when it gets too close to the edge of the cliff. The shepherd pokes the sheep when it needs to move forward. The shepherd pokes the sheep to go to the right or to the left. “Alright already!”
Why would the “Good” shepherd be so harsh to the sheep that he loves? The proverbs tell us that it is because He loves us. “He who spares the rod hates his children” (Proverbs 13:24). He disciplines us because He loves us. God often corrected His followers in Scripture. The Apostle Paul is a great example. Jesus knocks Paul off his horse in Acts 9 when he was on his way to Damascus. Paul was a Pharisee and familiar with the principles of God. He loved God but had his own idea of how that should look. He had left the path and gone his “own way”. Paul’s recollection of the event has Jesus asking, “Saul, why are you kicking against the goads?” (Acts 26:14). If you are a sheep in the flock of God, He will use the rod on you when it is needed…and it will be for your best interest because He loves you!
In today’s part of the Psalm David tells us that we should find comfort in the fact that God will use whatever means needed (a rod) to keep us on the path we should go. In other words…”thank you Lord for keeping me from making that big mistake”.
God loves you too much to let you walk off a cliff! God loves you too much to let you jus stand still…Get moving…”ouch”…let’s go…”Hey that hurts!”
“Your rod, O Lord…comforts me.”