Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (New American Standard Version)
Do you know what a shepherd’s rod is or what it’s for? I quoted today’s verse for years with no idea what I was talking about. When I did finally learn what it means for a shepherd to carry a rod I came to a whole new appreciation and respect for the care and courage of the shepherd. A rod is a weapon of protection for the sheep. Shepherds in the Middle East and Africa still carry them. A rod is a short club that is crafted from a young sapling and cut to fit the hand of the shepherd. After the shepherd finishes making the rod he practices throwing it until he perfects his aim against any predator that may threaten the sheep. A rod in the hand of a good shepherd becomes not only a weapon of protection but also a symbol of power and authority in defense of the flock. The sheep of his care rest easy in the nearness of a good shepherd knowing that remaining near him means he will not hesitate to protect them in any frightening valley or from any lurking shadow. The staff is a sign of guidance, supervision and even fondness. Sometimes a shepherd will walk beside his favorite sheep allowing his staff to rest upon the back of the beloved one in a sign of affection.
When I’ve walked through my own personal valleys it was sometimes difficult to know that I was under the guarded eye of the Good Shepherd. But when I came out of the valley of the shadows into the light it was both a surprise and great comfort to see Him walking beside me with His rod in one hand and His staff resting upon my back. Not only was He guarding me He was holding me in the highest regard and affection. His protection isn’t a duty but a love. In any darkness you may find yourself today I encourage you that the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is right there in the dark places with you. May you be comforted knowing His rod is ready to protect and His staff to give guidance, fellowship and affection. His Authority given by the Father is His rod and His Loving Kindness to you is His staff. You can be comforted in the dark places and know He is really there with you. Where you are right now might be dark and scary but His watchful eye is upon you. His rod and His staff are ready to do their job. There is the greatest comfort in that.