But a child left to himself
brings shame to his mother."
Today we will look at the last half of Psalm 23:4
"For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
King David was a shepherd at heart. He knew what it meant to be alone with the sheep in the wilderness. He knew what it meant to protect them, provide for them, and be with them at all times. He also knew the dangers of leaving the flock alone without protection.
We have read about the irresponsible shepherds in Ezekiel...
These selfish shepherds worried more about feeding themselves than the flock. They abandoned the flock and allowed the beasts of the field to devour them. They were scattered.
As a result, the LORD became the shepherd of His people and gathered them together.
Now, as a result of Christ's New Covenant with man, we are part of that flock. We are being led by a benevolent shepherd who loves us because He died for us.
When we think of the rod and staff, we tend to think of the harsh discipline of the Lord. But to the shepherd, the rod and staff were used for very specific things.
For Jacob, the staff helped him cross the Jordan:
For Moses, he took the rod of God into his hand when he went to Egypt:
And during the first Passover, Moses was commanded to take leave in haste with God's people with staff in hand in order to properly direct God's people.....His flock:
We read in Scripture that the rod was used for discipline and fighting off attackers, and the staff for leading and directing the flock. Remember, sheep are not driven from behind, but they are led by the shepherd who walks in front of the sheep using his staff to direct them.
The flock looks to the staff for leadership of the shepherd. He could quickly use the rod to defend the flock against the beasts, and the rod was used to discipline stray sheep back into the fold.
2 Sam 7:14
We see that though discipline comes from the Lord, He never removes His love from those in the covenant. He always loved David.
It is the LORD God who can break the staff of the wicked and take over as shepherd.
1 Cor 4:21
Here Paul warns of discipline by the rod.
Our Messiah will rule with the rod:
So, in Scripture we read how the rod and staff truly are comforting to the believer and complete fear and dread to the non-believer. The Lord will break the staff and rod of the wicked who mislead and rule the flock with cruelty:
King David in all his wisdom, understood that once in awhile the shepherd has to use the staff to re-direct the flock back into the fold and use rod to fight off attackers for the flock.
Therefore, he found much comfort in the LORD's discipline and guidance. He knew the LORD personally. They had a very close relationship. God knew David's heart because he had the heart of a shepherd.
Part of our covenant with the Lord is His protection (rod) and presence (staff) in our lives. Both of these promises should bring us great comfort each day as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
"Leadership is all about motivating people to follow. Therefore everything in leadership hinges on the leader's relationship to his people. It is possible to motivate people simply by sheer force, but that is not real leadership; it's dictatorship. And it never really achieves the goals of leadership. That can be accomplished only by a loving loyalty."
-John MacArthur (The Book on Leadership, 2004, p. 70)