Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
The rod is for the enemy—–the staff is for discipline and correction.
Get the picture?
Two separate words are used in the Hebrew. Sometimes we think of the shepherd’s walking stick is just a stick with a hook on the end.
There is a reason why two kinds of “sticks” are mentioned in this Psalm.
The Hebrew word for rod is shebet. It is a club the shepherd used to keep enemies away. With deadly accuracy, he could kill a predator. One toss of the rod to a wayward wandering sheep would get the attention of an unruly sheep who need to be disciplined. The word carries the sense of strength, authority and power.
The word used for the staff is mishena which means “to lean on” or support. Both of the words together give us a picture of God’s protective care for His children. The hook on the staff guides and directs the animal. The staff is used as discipline for the sheep and if the discipline is ignored for very long, the shepherd breaks the lamb’s leg and then carries in the fold of the shepherd’s robe until it is healed. Once the lamb’s leg heals, seldom does he stray from the master again. David writes, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, But now I keep your word.” Psalm 119:67 (NASB) We also read in Hebrews 12:11-13, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight the paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” (NASB) For me, I have read these verses many times but seeing them in this context of the good shepherd who strengths and guides and protects His sheep was an ah ha moment. The picture of the shepherd make straight the paths, guiding the sheep so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Jesus wants to guide us so He will not have to break our leg (humbles us) but rather heal us. Once you have been carried by the Good Shepherd until your wound has healed, you will never be far away from him again.
“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil because the Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd is watching over each and every step we take. He is guiding us, looking for us among the cliffs when we wander, reaching out with the staff pulling us back in the way. These two words thy “rod and staff” paint a picture of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Both the rod and the staff would be carved, whittled and shaped just the right size to fit the Shepherd. In the Old Testament, they were used often instruments which resulted in miracles. For example, Moses’ staff was used before Pharoah to show the power of the one and only true God. Aaron’s rod budded and produced flowers that show he was truly God’s chosen leader. While the rod represents power, strength and truth, it is God’s word that is the truth in which we walk. It is the Word of God that discipline His people. It is the Word of God that comforts us when we walk through dark valleys.
I pray that as we learn more of deep treasures hidden in God’s Word we remember God’s rod protects us from our enemies and His staff guides our way. Let His Word and His Spirit comfort you today as we walk this pilgrim’s way headed from the high country of heaven.
Lead Me On Lord my Good Shepherd! “Your rod and your staff are a strange mercy in a world where I’m not yet home” are words from the song below. Listen to this song it will bring peace to turbulent moments. Great meditation while you think about what the shepherd has led you through.
Lead Me On by Audrey Assad