Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Shepherd's Rod and Staff

“ The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me; I shall not lack…Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23: 1; 4b
“A time is coming, and indeed is already here, when the true and genuine worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking just such a people as these worshippers.” John 4:23

God did it again. He spoke to Andrea and to me in very similar ways today. She is in California, and I am in North Carolina, but the same God is inside of both of us, ministering to our spirits in very similar yet individual ways. He has been revealing to me the power of His word and the comfort of His Spirit. He took me to 2 Timothy 3, where He says that “Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, reproof, and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience and for training in righteousness.” He has continuously been showing me the important of His Spirit’s presence in my life as well as the importance of the truth of His word. These tools work together to help me to worship Him fully with my life. Often, believers either place too much emphasis on ritual, tradition, and dry reliance on the Word of God without understanding the role of the Spirit. On the flip side, however, some believers over-emphasize the work of the Spirit to the neglect of God’s written word.
Andrea texted me tonight, saying that she felt that the Spirit was ministering to her from Psalm 23. As she was praying the fourth verse, instead of rod and staff, she found herself praying “Word and Spirit”. She was exactly right. I quickly postponed my study of Isaiah and looked up Psalm 23, focusing on the cross-references for the two tools of the Shepherd. I also sought to understand the Hebrew definitions of these two terms. I was not too surprised that the rod is indeed God’s word and that the staff is His Spirit. This understanding gives me a whole new picture of the Lord as the good Shepherd. I shall not want because He equips me on two fronts. My mother has an age-old copy of the book by Philip Keller, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” Keller provided me with amazingly helpful insights in understanding the rod and the staff. The rod is carved by the Shepherd and becomes virtually a part of His own arm. He carries very little as he accompanies his flock into the pasture: only His rod and his staff. The rod is a symbol of the Word of God, which carries great strength, power, and authority. It is also used as a tool to discipline and correct wayward sheep. He uses it to draw them back to His fold. As it corrects, it also provides constant comfort. Just like the rod is an extension of the shepherd’s hand, it is an extension of God’s spoken word, as a projection of God’s mind. It serves as a tool of discipline, not for arbitrary display of authority, but to keep the sheep from consuming poisonous weeds. The shepherd also uses the rod to examine and count the sheep. It helps His to be more intimately acquainted with the sheep, just as He uses the word as a mirror to reveal to His fold its true image. Finally, it provides protection from danger. One of the rod’s greatest purposes is to be a weapon. We know that the Word is a weapon with which we fight the enemy. We use the word to fight the enemy’s accusations. Without the word, we are sitting sheep that will inevitably become prey to the wolf that seeks to devour our souls and lives.
The staff works in conjunction with the rod. It represents the Spirit in the form of comfort. Though the word offers correction, the Spirit is the great Comforter. This Comforter is characterized by longsuffering and kindness. It is a slender rod that has a hook on the end. This hook is used to gently prod the sheep. It guides the sheep on the right path, but the sheep know that the presence of the hook pressing on their side represents the presence and comfort of the shepherd. We know that the presence of the Spirit’s hook on us is indeed comforting and wonderfully assuring. The hook’s second role is to reach out and catch individual sheep to draw them close to the shepherd. I have felt this hook frequently in my life, as I have followed paths that have led to danger. The Lord catches me with the hook of His Spirit and pulls me back to His side.
I am so thankful for the presence of the Shepherd’s rod and staff. Without both tools, I would be without direction and fall prey to the enemy’s attacks. The Lord is my Shepherd, and I will not want. All I need is His rod and His staff. As a true worshipping sheep, I can recognize God in Spirit form and in the form of the truth of His word. In this balance, I can rest assured that only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life. I can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. Nothing can stand against the power of His Word and the comfort of His Spirit. In these I am whole and at peace.


  1. I had been researching the Comfort of God's Rod and Staff and came across you blog. Very insiteful. Thank you!


  2. Thank you for the beautiful insight you have let me see about the rod and staff!

  3. if you have a page on Facebook I would love to "like" it or become a friend.