The Lord is my Shepherd Part 4 by Rev. Ron Wooten
The Lord is my Shepherd – Part 4
Psalms 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (KJV)
Today we are focusing on the end of Vs. 4 – Your Rod & Your Staff, they Comfort Me. This verse was another one of those verses when I was a kid that I did not understand.
I associated the ROD & STAFF, especially the rod, with the Discipline from my Parents. I know you want believe this, but my brothers and I experienced that part of our Parents Love more than I care to remember. My Younger brother more than any of us. Haha!
FOUND THIS INTERESTING FACT THIS WEEK: The terms sheep, lambs, ewes, sheepfold and shepherds appear about six hundred times in the Bible.
God seems to be saying,
“If you want to learn something about the Christian life, watch sheep. And if you want to know something about God Himself, watch a faithful shepherd.”
Before David begins this next phrase we are going to COVER today – LET’S LOOK BACK TO LAST WEEK – After he talked about RIGHTEOUS PATHS AND the incredible Valley – He PENNED the words – I WILL FEAR NO EVIL THING.
Over a Lifetime of Challenges – Facing Lions & Bears – Standing in front of a Giant – Being Hunted by a King he loved – Leading a Nation through Wars – and now Hiding from his Own Son, who has every intention Not to Just take His Throne, but to Remove him as a Threat (KILL HIM) – he writes – I WILL FEAR NO EVIL.
David did not have No Fear Because he was such a great Warrior, Cunning Strategist Or Loving Father – We see his Secret to Why He did not Fear in
1 Samuel 17: 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
The Principle that David gave King Saul above is what He stills Lives By as He writes Psalm 23. Because God was With me Before, Everytime I needed Him, I know God will Always Be with Me No Matter What I May Face in the Valley’s of Life.
Now David Shifts the Focus just a Bit. Up to this point David has Only Talked about the Shepherd. At the end of Verse 4 – He Brings our Attention to TWO of the TOOLS OF A SHEPHERD.
- THY ROD AND THY STAFF, THEY COMFORT ME.
He is talking about 2 specific distinct Objects – I looked at a few more modern translations and they include both of these items as one.
A Rod – shebet (Heb.) – in this Bible this word is translated – rod, staff, club, scepter, – This is the Same Tool as a Local Shepherd uses here in East Africa – We call it a Rungu. It Refers in this context of the Rod that is used at a Tool not as a Status Symbol of Leadership like a Scepter (Like the One President Moi Used to Carry).
A Staff – mish’enah (Heb.) – it is always translated as Staff or Support.
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 – “In the Middle East the shepherd carries a rod and staff. These are the common and universal equipment of the primitive Shepherd.
Each shepherd boy, from the time he first starts to tend his father’s flock, takes special pride in the selection of a rod and staff exactly suited to his own size and strength. He goes into the bush and selects a young sapling which is dug from the ground. This is carved and whittled down with great care and patience. The enlarged base of the sapling where its trunk joins the roots is shaped into a smooth, rounded head of hard wood. The sapling itself is shaped to exactly fit the owner’s hand. After he completes it, the shepherd boy spends hours practicing with this club, leaning how to throw it with amazing speed and accuracy, practicing close combat with his other friends. It becomes his main weapon of defense for both himself and his sheep. …the rod, in fact, was an extension of the owner’s own right arm. It stood as a symbol of his strength, his power, his authority in any serious situation.”
BUT IT WAS ALSO USED AS A HELP IN OTHER AREAS OF THE SHEPHERD.
3 of the many Uses of the Rod.
*He could throw it with precision, NOT JUST AS A GAME, at approaching danger (wild animals, snakes, etc…) or to warn a sheep who was straying to far from the foal or walking into danger (near a cliff, into briars or plants that are poisonous to them).
*He learn to us it as a weapon in hand to hand combat WITH THIEVES, and even with wild animals. (1 Sam. 17 – David says he Held the Lions Beard and killed it, the idea is he took his rod and clubbed it to death)
*He used it to examine the sheep as they came into the pen, by using the pointed end to separate the wool to see if their were pests, sores, rashes, etc… (Ezekiel 20:37 – 37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;)
This meant not only coming under the owner’s control and authority, but also to be subject to his most careful, intimate and firsthand examination. A sheep that passed “under the rod” was one which had been counted and looked over with great care to make sure all was well with it.
Because of their long wool it is not always easy to detect disease, wounds, or defects in sheep. But the skilled judge will take his rod and part the sheep’s wool to determine the condition of the skin, the QUALITY of the fleece and the conformation of the body – NO BROKEN BONES, TUMORS, INFECTED WOUNDS.
The Rod Represents the Word of God the Great Shepherd uses in our lives.
THE WORD OF GOD PROTECTS, CORRECTS, REBUKES, HEALS, DEFENDS AND ENCOURAGES US. It is a Lamp to our Feet, It is a Light to our Path, It Cleanses Us, Sanctifies us, & Purifies us.
Paul Told Timothy – 2 Timothy – 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [a]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Jesus told us in Matthew 4 that we can’t live only on Natural things of Life, but we Live by The Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God.
Our Shepherd Leads Us by the Word. Here are a few benefits from living by the word of God.
- It is our Source of Faith – Romans 10:17
- It is our Source of Salvation – 2 Tim. 3:15; Romans 1:16
- It is our Source of Truth – John 17:17
- It is our Source of Freedom – John 8:31-32
- It is our Source of Freedom from Error – Matt. 22:29
- It is our Source of Spiritual Food – John 6:63
- It is our Source of Growth – I Peter 2:2
- It is our Source of Victory over Temptation – Ps. 119:11
- It is our Source of Happiness or Blessedness – Prov 8:34 & Luke 11:38
- It is our Source of Holiness – John 17:17
- It is our Source of Spiritual Self Diagnosis – Heb. 4:12
- It is our Source of Guidance – Ps 119:105
- It is our Source of Comfort – Rom. 15:4
- It is our Source of Answered Prayer – John 15:7
- It is our Source of Spiritual Victory – Eph. 6:7; 1 John 2:14
- It is our Source of Healing – Prov 4:20-22; Ps. 107:20
- It is our Source of Assurance – 1 John 5:13
- It is our Source of Joy – Ps 19:8
- It is our Source of Preparation for God’s Work – 2 Tim. 3:16-17
- It is our Source of Warning – 1 Cor. 10:11
Quote from the book – A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 – “We turn now to discuss and consider the shepherd’s staff. In a sense, the staff, more than any other item of his personal equipment, identifies the shepherd as a shepherd. No one in any other profession carries a shepherd’s staff. It is uniquely an instrument used for the care and management of sheep — and only sheep. It will not do for cattle, horses or hogs. It is designed, shaped, and adapted especially to the needs of sheep. And it is used only for their benefit.”
For us as Sheep of our Great Shepherd – The Staff Represents the Holy Spirit in our Lives. God sent His Spirit & Jesus Baptizes un in the Spirit. This is uniquely Given to us His Children. The Holy Spirit is designed, shaped and adapted to our needs as His Sheep to help us Fulfill His Great Purpose in our Lives.
The staff is essentially a symbol of the concern, the compassion that a shepherd has for his SHEEP. No other single word can better describe its function on behalf of the flock than that it is for their “comfort.” ONE OF THE MAIN PURPOSES JESUS SAID THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD BE WOULD BE A COMFORTER & HELPER.
The ROD conveys the concept of authority, of power, of discipline, of defense against danger, the “STAFF” speaks of all that is longsuffering and kind.
THE STAFF WAS A LONG STICK, USUALLY IN THE MIDDLE EAST IT HAD A CROOK OR HOOK ON THE END. IT WAS TALLER THAN THE SHEPHERD AND USED AS A VERSATILE TOOL FOR THE SHEPHERD.
*A few weeks ago we talked about it being used as a digging tool, to bring water from the rushing stream, to a side pool where the sheep would come and drink.
*He would use it to help him walk the rough and rocky paths as a cane would be used today as well as a prop to rest his weary legs. The older the Shepherd, the Staff became more valuable.
*He used it to gently nudge the sheep when walking on a dangerous cliff or crevice.
*He used the crook to pull a baby lamb close to his mother, to catch a stubborn ram to discipline him by bringing him close to his side, and to reach down into a briar patch or a hole to rescue a fallen lamb.
THE STAFF IS A TYPE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN OUR LIFE – WE SPENT SEVERAL WEEKS IN the month of May – Talking about the Holy Spirit – So we want take a lot of time today on this.
Just a Reminder – the Things our Shepherd – Jesus Christ -said about the SPIRIT just before he Left us –
- HE LEADS US AND GUIDES US THROUGH THE TROUBLED TIMES OF LIFE AS WELL AS THE GOOD TIMES. He will Guide us into All Truth.
- JESUS SAID THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL BE THE COMFORTER FOR OUR LIVES.
- Jesus said – He would be our Helper & our Advocate.
- He would Convict the World and the Church of Sin.
- He would Empower Us to do the work we are Gifted and Called to do.
David is Remembering How he Lead his Sheep – When he See’s the Lord as A Shepherd – He Sees Him with a Rod & a Staff. Both CAN BE USED SEPARATELY BUT DAVID’S VIEW OF THE SHEPHERD SHOW THEY are Used together and Because of The Shepherd using them in our Life:
THE ROD & THE STAFF – THE WORD OF GOD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD – LEADING US ALONG THE WAY.
THAT’S HOW PEOPLE GO THROUGH DEATH, SICKNESS, FAMILY INSTABILITY, FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES, AND EVEN GLOBAL PANDEMICS.
AS WE LIVE THIS LIFE FOLLOWING OUR SHEPHERD – HE HAS SENT HIS WORD AND HIS SPIRIT – TO ASSIST US ALONG IN THIS JOURNEY.
THEY ARE HIS TOOLS TO GUIDE OUR LIVES THROUGH EVERY ASPECT OF
THIS JOURNEY OF LIFE WE ARE ON.