Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me

There will come a time in all of our lives when we want to be comforted…whether we are currently seeking comfort in a difficult circumstance we are going through right now…. whether we are still seeking comfort in a challenging situation we went through in our past…or whether we will seek comfort in a tough trial we may face in the future.

Who or what do you look to for comfort?

Do you look to your spouse, family, friends, or church? Do you look to things in this world to comfort you like drinking, eating, smoking, drugs…even TV, social media, shopping or working out?

How about God? Do you lean on Him for comfort first and foremost or only after seeking comfort from other people or things?

Now I am not saying that people cannot provide you with comfort…because they certainly can…but why not go first to the source and creator of comfort?

The Bible is very clear that our God is a God of comfort….And not only is He a God of comfort but the God of all comfort!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

As I have been focusing this week on this truth of God being the God of all comfort, I was reminded of verse 4 in Psalm 23…which really heightened my interest and curiosity!

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 NIV

Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me… NLT

Your rod and your staff reassure me… NET

Your rod and your staff give me courage… GW

Have you ever thought…what is so significant about the rod and the staff?

I mean I have read Psalm 23 over and over again and even memorized it in Sunday school as a young child and never really thought about the meaning of the rod and the staff! Have you?

If you aren’t familiar with Psalm 23…it’s ok! I highly suggest you read through it as there is so much beautiful imagery of the Lord our God being our Shepherd.

This Psalm was written by David…the greatest king of Israel. And many years before David became king, he was a shepherd boy and tended flocks of sheep in the hills around Bethlehem…which FYI…was where many years later an angel would find shepherds and tell them about the birth of our Lord Jesus!

And so, therefore, David was very familiar with sheep…and just as he was a shepherd to sheep, he uses this imagery of the Lord as a Shepherd to us…His sheep.

So why exactly are the rod and the staff a comfort to David…and to us?

Why do they give us comfort, protection, reassurance, and courage as the different bible translations imply??

A better understanding and greater perspective can be developed by digging deeper into the Hebrew meanings of these two words.

The Hebrew word for “rod” is shebet and has the idea of a “stick”. It originally referred to a part of a tree.

In the Old Testament, the rod was used to count sheep (Leviticus 27:32).

The “rod” was also used to protect the sheep from other animals. The rod was a club about 2 feet long with a knob on the end of it about the size of one’s fist. It was used to ward off enemies such as a bear or a lion because with one quick blow you could put to death such an animal.

The “rod” is also described in the book of Proverbs for discipline (Proverbs 13:24).

This “rod” was the shepherd’s symbol of authority, power, discipline and protection from danger.

The Hebrew word for “staff” is mishena and has the idea of “something to lean on,” “trust,” or “support.”

The “staff” was slender stick with a small prong on the end of it which served as a hook. It was used to help get the sheep out of trouble such as when it was stuck in thick branches or to help get the sheep who wandered off. It usually came from an almond tree which was a tree that represented long life. It was very strong so one could lean upon it for strength and support.

The “staff” was the shepherd’s symbol of strength, support, guidance, and direction.

The same Protector, the same gracious and merciful God, will be still with him – leading him, guiding his steps, shepherding him, keeping him from evil. Thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff – i.e. thy shepherd’s crook, and thy staff of defence – they comfort me. They make me feel that, however long and however dreary the way through the dark vale, I shall still have thy guidance and thy protection. Pulpit Commentary

And to further grasp a greater understanding of what exactly this means for us…I think it is important to examine the sentence just before David describes that the rod and the staff comfort him.

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 NIV

Whether we are going through the daily challenges of life or walking though the darkest valley we have ever walked through…Jesus is there to comfort us with His rod and His staff. Jesus is with us to protect us…strengthen us…support us…guide us…direct us…and even discipline us.

Not only does He tell us to not be afraid or discouraged, but we can find comfort that the Lord actually goes ahead of us! Isn’t that what a guide does? As a guide walks with us, he also walks a few steps ahead of us.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

There’s more here! Check this out! In Psalm 23:4, David isn’t talking about just a rod and a staff…He says your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This is significant because David is talking about the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff! The Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff comforts us!

And what is the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff?

I believe the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff refers to God’s Word. God uses the Word as His rod and His staff.

Think about it…The Lord…our Shepherd…can use His Word in just the same ways as a shepherd uses his rod and his staff.

God uses His Word to protect us…strengthen us…support us…guide us…direct us…and discipline us.

What God does with His Word is very much like what a shepherd does with his rod and his staff.

So if we allow God to use His Word in our lives…if we read and listen to His Word and try to do what it tells us…God will not leave us comfortless. His rod and His staff will comfort us!

The rod and the staff…His rod and His staff…paints a picture of a strong protective Shepherd who we can trust to comfort us no matter how dark and how difficult our valleys in life may be!

Do you trust Him and His Word today enough to experience the comfort from the God of all comfort?

Reflection Points:

  1. Who or what do you look to for comfort when you are faced with difficult circumstances…past…present…and for the future?
  2. Do you look to your spouse, family, friends, or church? Do you look to things in this world to comfort you like drinking, eating, smoking, drugs…even TV, social media, shopping or working out?
  3. How about God? Do you lean on Him for comfort first and foremost or only after seeking comfort from other people or things?
  4. What is so significant about the rod and the staff in Psalm 23:4 and why are they a comfort to us?
  5. Why does Psalm 23:4 say your rod and your staff, they comfort me?

Action Points:

  1. Many times it’s easier to just to lean on our family and friends for comfort…and there is nothing wrong with that. But how much more comfort will we find if we leaned first and foremost on the source and creator of comfort…the God of all comfort?!
  2. Understand that the “rod” was the shepherd’s symbol of authority, power, discipline and protection from danger. In addition, the “staff” was the shepherd’s symbol of strength, support, guidance, and direction. This clearly demonstrates how the rod and the staff can serve to comfort a shepherd.
  3. Moreover, understanding that God’s Word is the Lord’s rod and the Lord’s staff we can receive the Lord’s comfort during difficult circumstances. We must trust in God and His Word. Trust develops when we have a relationship with Him and grows when we spend time praying and reading the bible.
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One thought on “Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me

  1. As I leave for a visit with my son today, Taleen, this was of great comfort to me. God IS bigger than I can fathom and He does go before me. Thank you, again for your incredible heart for the Lord.

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