Rod and Staff

Read: Psalm 23

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (v. 4)

In his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller notes that shepherds in antiquity carried two tools: a rod and a staff. The staff was a long stick used to redirect or pull close a wayward sheep. The rod was a short club used at times as a weapon to fend off predators. It was also used as a probe to uncover parasites imbedded deep in a sheep’s wool. The rod and staff were used for discipline and assessment—correcting behaviors and detecting conditions that, left unchecked, could be deadly.

Of course, sheep never willingly submit to being prodded or pulled close. We share this tendency. Given the choice, we prefer to go our own way, to cover our deepest frailties and darkest flaws. Spiritually speaking, going our own way and covering over our spiritual sickness will mean death.

What then is life? Submitting to the rod and staff of God our Shepherd. King David knew from experience that sheep know no safer place than pressed to the shepherd’s side. David also knew that sheep know no greater security than under the protection and scrutiny of the shepherd’s rod. We are never more safe or secure than when our gracious God prods us back under his care and probes us for sins and hurts in need of his healing. Find comfort in God’s rod and staff, by which he protects us and holds us close. —Ben Van Arragon

As you pray, thank God for the comfort of his protection and discipline.

About the Author

Ben Van Arragon is a pastor, husband, and father of two teenage daughters. He has served the First Christian Reformed Church of Detroit since 2008. He writes and produces video teaching on the Bible and Reformed creeds and confessions. His writing for Words of Hope includes series on Jeremiah, Exodus, and Work and Rest.

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