Psalm 23:1, 4—The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
The rod and staff that a shepherd would carry were like extensions of their arm. They were tools that shepherds needed to use every day to protect, guide, and care for their sheep. In Psalm 23, David calls the Lord his shepherd, and in John 10, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. Jesus is our shepherd as we walk through our daily lives, and He uses His rod and staff to help us live out our God-given purpose.
A shepherd’s staff was shaped like a hook, so that if one of his sheep began to wander, the shepherd could guide that sheep back to the rest of the flock. And just like a shepherd would draw their sheep back to the flock, God draws us to Himself so that He can begin to guide us in the right way to go. God’s spirit coaches our spirits, so that our souls are changed in spite of whatever circumstances may be surrounding us.
The rod that a shepherd would use, on the other hand, was for protecting, correcting, and inspecting. It was basically a wooden bat with spikes on the end and could be used to protect the flock from predators. With a rod, the shepherd was very powerful. But besides protecting his sheep from outside animals, the shepherd could also use his rod to prod sheep in loving discipline, and as a comb to check his flock’s wool for parasites and other things that could make them sick.
The rod that God uses is His Word, which He has given us to guide us through our daily lives. When we absorb what it says—that means not just reading the Bible, but letting it soak in and applying it to our lives—we will move forward through the dark valleys of our lives. The Bible can be used to protect us from harmful influences, help us live more like God designed us to live by correcting us when we go off on our own, and can shine a light on the parts of our lives that need to be removed or changed.
If we want to live holistically—if we want to live a more well-rounded life—then we have to take a holistic approach to God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Every word of the Bible is useful and relevant to our lives today.
Allow God, the Good Shepherd, to guide your life with His rod and staff, so that you can be everything He has created you to be. Let His Word guide, protect, and correct you as you go about your daily routine. Remember that God has already won, so if you’re on His team, you’re on the winning side, no matter the circumstances.
Hear more about the Good Shephard in my latest message, From Wanting to Winning.