The Comfort Of The Shepherd’s Rod

Evangelist David Smallwood

This is an outsourced post from Evangelist David Smallwood.

Brother Smallwood’s Bio:

Since June of 1993, David Smallwood has traveled throughout the United States conducting various revival campaigns and conferences. David and his wife Kristen have been married since November of 1995 and have two children: a daughter (Grace) and a son (Stephen). Brother Smallwood’s Personal Blog is a tool that is used to publish various devotionals and articles written by Brother Smallwood on a wide range of issues.

Psalm 23:4Psalm 23:4
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  

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

It’s an unusual phrase for many of us, but it’s one of great significance! In David’s day, the “rod” and “staff” were common components of the attire worn by shepherds, and thus, for the psalmist, it was quite natural to speak of these instruments when penning “The Shepherd Psalm”. But in this context, what makes this phrase so striking is the fact that the psalmist is not merely describing a middle-eastern shepherd; instead, he is speaking of and focusing upon the Master Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The “sheep of his pasture” are not common animals or literal sheep, but rather, they are “His people” (Psalm 100:3Psalm 100:3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. and not...: or, and his we are  

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. The “pasture” in which He feeds us and the “paths” upon which He leads us are all spiritual symbolisms which convey the measure of His wonderful provisions for us. And so it is with the “rod” and “staff” as well, for they too are symbolic of the spiritual workings of Christ, our Great Shepherd, in our daily Christian life and experience. So the question is how are they so?

As we stated, the “rod” and “staff” were an integral part of shepherding in David’s time. Because of their importance, the shepherds of that day would have taken the time to select and to shape each one of these instruments themselves. These “tools of the trade” were so vital that each piece must be carefully chosen and meticulously crafted in order to sufficiently serve their purpose in the shepherd’s work. As you look at the historical customs of David’s time, you will find that both the “rod” and the “staff” were fashioned by using the wood from a young sapling tree. The “rod”, in particular, was designed by taking the sapling up by the roots and then cutting away those roots from the broader base to leave a knob. Then, the shepherd would cut away the other end of the sapling to shorten the length of the “rod”. He would then begin to whittle the whole piece of wood down to an acceptable weight so that he could use it like a club.

Once the design of the shepherd’s “rod”, with its thick, rounded, knob-like end, and its shorter and slightly more bulky frame was completed, it was used mainly as a means of defending the flock from the many lurking predators, such as wolves, lions, bears, and even thieves and robbers, that were always about, seeking to make prey of the defenseless sheep. The “rod” was used as a weapon to fight against these foes and to stave off an attack against the flock. The shepherds of David’s time would also have been very proficient at throwing the “rod” at an intended target with great accuracy and swiftness. This method was used for things such as serpents, in order to kill them or frighten them away. But in each one of these things, we see a prevailing theme and a particular truth. To put it simply, the main objective served by the “rod” was to defend the sheep of the flock from every external enemy that was seeking an occasion to harm or devour the sheep.

Oh how very actual the analogy that is set before us by the teaching of this truth! Oh how very perfect the picture that the psalmist has painted with these words! You see, we, like literal sheep, are ever the hunted prey of Satan, who, “like a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  

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! We, as part of the fold of God, are ever the target of “The thief”, which Christ said, “cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10John 10:10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  

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! And we, like those helpless little lambs of the literal folds and literal pastures, are incompetent, incapable, and impotent to wield our own defense! What have we in our pathetic and powerless selves to provide ample protection against such a formidable foe? What inherent weapon is in our personal arsenal that would be a match for the one who has at his disposal the ability to use, “power, and signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:92 Thessalonians 2:9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,  

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, and who, by these wicked weapons, “deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9Revelation 12:9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  

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? Indeed, there is nothing that we can do in the power of our fragile flesh to defeat these, “principalities…powers…rulers of the darkness of this world…spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12Ephesians 6:12
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. flesh...: Gr. blood and flesh spiritual...: or, wicked spirits high: or, heavenly  

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! In our own strength, we are utterly helpless, and if we lean on our own strength, we will be ultimately defeated!

Ah, but isn’t that exactly the point? You see, though the necessity of the shepherd’s “rod” illustrates the ever present dangers which are always about the sheep, yet still, David is able to say, “I have ‘comfort’, even ‘in the presence of mine enemies’!” How could the psalmist find such a sweet peace of mind, while ever present dangers were lurking in the shadows of “the valley”? How is it possible that his soul could find a solace though he knew that “principalities” and “powers” were seeking to “devour” him as a helpless sheep? How could he enjoy the calm of inward consolation while feeding from a “table” that was prepared for him “in the presence of…enemies”? The answer is simple, dear friend! He had found this complete consolation, this sweet solace, this peace of mind; because he knew he could implicitly trust the care of The Great Shepherd! Don’t you see it? It is not the pathetic power of self-reliance that he trusts, for he plainly asserts that his hope and help, his solace and strength, his peace and power, his defense and deliverance are solely and wholly found in Christ! “THY rod and THY staff THEY comfort me”, that’s the consolation of his claim!

And what of us beloved, what is the source of our solace? What is the claim of our consolation? Can we, like the psalmist, stand confidently in the face of our foes and say that in our Great Shepherd we have found “comfort”, even though these enemies seek our harm? Do we trust foolishly in the strength of our flesh to face the daily fight, or have we yet learned that without Christ we have no hope of survival? You see, whether we are wandering aimlessly about, or whether we be safely secured in the sheep-fold, we are always incapable of caring for ourselves! Our efforts in every endeavor are always impotent and ineffectual, but it is especially so when we face the subtleties of Satan! Against his deceptions, our faith in self is fully futile! Like sheep, we are both incompetent and incapable; we are absolutely insufficient and wholly inadequate to guide or guard our own lives against the tactics of the tempter! Apart from the Shepherd, we are utterly helpless and completely defenseless in ourselves to deal with the devil! And yet, though these things are true, we may still, like David, enjoy sweet consolation and “comfort” in the indwelling Christ! Our sweet peace is found in knowing that “Ye are of God, little children, and HAVE OVERCOME THEM: because GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD” (1 John 4:41 John 4:4
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  

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!

Oh that we might comprehend the fullness of our frailty and the magnitude of His might! For it is only by the “rod” of Christ’s strength that we have a defense against the dangers of the enemies that seek our destruction! David acknowledged this truth, even as those that sought to “trouble” him were “increased” (Psalm 3:1Psalm 3:1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

3 A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. 1 LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.  

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. He declared, “But though, O Lord, art a shield for me” (Psalm 3:3Psalm 3:3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. for: or, about  

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! Oh that we might learn, with David, to find our hiding place in God! Oh that our hearts might completely grasp what it is to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10Ephesians 6:10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  

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! It is not a greater self-confidence or a deeper self-reliance that we need, but rather, it is a total dependence on Christ, our Great Shepherd!

You see, though we may be insufficient for the fight, and though we may be powerless against the foe, yet we find in such frailty the ultimate source of that sweet consolation which compelled David to declare “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”! It is there, in the realization of the feebleness of our flesh, that we first begin to learn the true delight of depending on God; and it is there alone, at the end of all self-reliance, that we may truly begin to experience the essence of Christ’s claim that His “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:92 Corinthians 12:9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

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! Oh that we might flee that misguided faith which looks to self instead of the Shepherd! Oh that we might with Paul make this to be our personal plea, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but ours sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:52 Corinthians 3:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;  

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! May the declaration of our dependence, may our battle-cry in the conflict, may our song in the struggle ever be, “My defence is of God, which saveth the upright of heart” (Psalm 7:10Psalm 7:10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. My...: Heb. My buckler is upon God  

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!

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Can You Share A Vulnerable Time Where You Have Come To Illustrate This Passage?

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Originally posted 2010-09-01 11:01:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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