In Ps 23:4, David wrote, “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. The rod and the staff are the only two instruments a shepherd carried with him when he was with his flock.
The shepherd usually carved his rod out of a sapling tree. He carved the heavier, club-like end of the rod from the trunk near the roots. And the handle, he carved from the slender portion further up the trunk. After shaping it like he wanted, the shepherd would practice with his rod until he became very skillful in both handling it and throwing it.
The staff was made out of a long slender stick and shaped with a crook on the end. The staff is the most notable instrument of the shepherd because shepherds are the only ones who use them in animal husbandry. A shepherd takes great care in the selection and shaping of his personal staff.
When David wrote about the Lord, our shepherd, he said, “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. For one thing, they were reminder to David that the Lord was with him. As sheep, when we feel the rod or the staff, we know that our shepherd is near, even when we’re in our valley of the shadow of death.
The Lord’s Rod Comforts Us
When he corrects us with his rod. The shepherd uses his rod to strike the sheep when they get unruly. A shepherd can throw his rod very accurately at a wayward sheep and get it to come back to the flock. He does this for the good of the sheep. Likewise, when we are chastened by the Lord, we are reminded that he loves us, Heb 12:5-11. And his love is certainly a comfort to us.
When he protects us with his rod. The shepherd can use his rod to kill a predator or chase one off. It’s a comfort to us to know that the Lord is protecting us like a shepherd protects his sheep. When we are in danger, what a comfort it is to know that the Lord has not left us nor forsaken us.
When he counts us with his rod. The shepherd knows the quantity and the quality of his sheep when they pass under the rod, Lev 27:32. By passing under the rod the shepherd can count and get a close look at the sheep. He can tell the condition they’re in. Likewise, the Lord can get a close look at all of his sheep, Ezek 20:37, and know exactly what condition we are in. We are comforted in knowing that our shepherd cares for us.
The Lord’s Staff Comforts Us
When he draws us with his staff. The shepherd uses his staff to draw sheep closer together and closer to him. Likewise, the Lord draws us into fellowship with him and with each other. And we when are in good fellowship with the Lord and our brethren, we are definitely comforted.
When he guides us with his staff. A shepherd will use his staff to lead his sheep when they need to be physically guided into a place or away from harm. Likewise, we can, at times, sense the unmistakable guiding hand of the Lord upon us, leading us where he knows we should go. And we are, thus, comforted by him.
When he rescues us with his staff. A shepherd can use the crook on his staff to pull a sheep out of danger. Likewise, the Lord can rescue us from danger when we have strayed away or fallen into harm. It is so comforting to realize the great love our shepherd has for us when he rescues us from some of our stupid decisions and actions. Praise the Lord for his mercy.
Conclusion: We like David can say, Thy rod and they staff they comfort me.