A Shepherd's care

I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NLT)

According to the 23rd Psalm, if you want to understand God, you must understand the role of the shepherd.  If you want to understand how Christians behave, you must understand the behavior of sheep.    The Bible describes God's role as a shepherd throughout scripture.  The role of the shepherd was to guide, feed, and protect the sheep.  Real sheep have very little mental capacity to strategize and very few tools in which to defend themselves.  It is only by following a shepherd that they can survive.

The fourth verse of the 23rd Psalm shows us two of the tools used by the shepherd to protect and guide the sheep.  The rod is a short blunt thick stick with a rounded end.  It was used as a weapon against predators but also was useful in encouraging wayward sheep to stay with the herd.  The staff is a hooked bow that allowed the shepherd to pull the sheep out of ditches or pull through tight spaces.  The rod and staff worked together to protect and guide. 

God, our shepherd, also uses rods and staffs for our wellbeing.

1. God disciplines those who he loves. (Hebrews 12:6).  The rod symbolizes God's need to discipline us to keep us on the right path.  Discipline is not a form of punishment, but a form of love.  This discipline comes in many ways.  This includes allowing us to experience the pain of bad decisions, unfruitfulness in desired endeavors, or disturbances in our relationship with him.  The goal is not condemnation, but conviction that leads to doing the right thing.

2. God protects his people.  Throughout scripture, God promises his presence with his people and that affords protection.  An interesting caveat is that God also asks his people to go through trials, adversity, and temptations for our own good (I Peter 1:6-7).   His protection allows us to live in a culture of hope instead of a culture of fear.

3. God allows adversity and gives discipline to strengthen us.  The word "comfort" means to strengthen (literally strength with).  The goal of going through anything is for our strength.  I like to say that faith that can not be tested can not be trusted.

Are you afraid of God's Rod?  Do you doubt God's staff?  Take time today, and renew God as your shepherd.  Ask Him today to allow his tools to comfort you so that you may be a comfort to others today.

May God bless you,

Pastor M Traylor
Dr. M TraylorComment