- The Source
- The Sovereign By Definition
- The Sovereign By Decree
- The Sovereign By Design: Part I
- The Sovereign By Design: Part II
- The Sovereign By Design: Part III
- The Sovereign By Design: Part IV
- The Sovereign By Design: Part V
- The Sovereign By Design: Part VI
- The Sovereign By Design: Part VII
- The Supply: My Giver: Introduction
- The Supply My Giver: Part I
- The Supply My Giver: Part II
- The Supply My Giver: Part III
- The Supply My Giver: Part IV
- The Supply My Giver: Part V
- The Supply My Giver: Part VI
- The Supply My Giver: Part VII
- The Supply My Giver: Part VIII
- The Supply My Giver: Part IX
- The Supply My Giver: Part X
- The Security; My Guard
“…thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4d)
David presents the fifth action verb, “comfort,” or “comforteth,” in Psalm 23:4d. Once again David recognizes that the cause of this action flows from the pronoun “thy” (the Shepherd, the LORD, Jehovah). It is “thy rod and thy staff”; which are tools in the hand of God to bring comfort to the Sheep.
Webster says as a verb “comfort” means (1) “to give strength and hope to”; (2) “to ease the grief or trouble of: console.”
The tools that David mentions in the hands of God to bring “comfort” seem to be a paradox (or that which is contrary to common sense, yet is true).
The “rod” of the Shepherd is that which the Shepherd uses to direct and discipline His Sheep. The Hebrew word translated “rod” (#7626) means “(literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.).”
The question is: What is God’s Rod?
1) Man’s innate Conscience. Every man is born with a conscience (the consciousness of the moral right and wrong of one’s own acts or motives):
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: (15) Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” (Romans 2:14-15)
The Believer’s conscience is enlightened through Regeneration, it is full of light (or the ability to choose right over wrong).
2) The Process of Conviction by the Holy Spirit of God of unconfessed sin in the Believer’s spirit using the Law of God. (See John 16:8-11; Romans 3:19; 7:1-14.) The Spirit applies the Law to a Believer, thereby revealing sin (Romans 3:19).
3) God’s Chastisement of the Believer’s unconfessed sin:
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (8) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)
4) God’s Judgment:
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 12:12)
“I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” (Micah 7:9)
“Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:” (Zechariah 7:9)
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
“To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15)
God judges His People in truth and in righteousness (see Romans 2:1-11).
In His infinite Wisdom, as He carries out His Plan for every Believer’s daily life – God may use the conscience, the process of conviction, even chastisement, to bring correction in the Believer, and to conform the Believer to His Will, all at the same time. The final stage – if the Believer does not come to confess his sins – God may bring the rebellious Believer to judgment, even take his physical life from him in death:
“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)
However, when God grants repentance to one of His wayward and rebellious Believers – repentance, or a turning from, is a Gift of God; man cannot effect true repentance, only God (see Acts 5:31) – God uses the conscience, and the application of His written Word to the Believer’s spirit by the Holy Spirit living within the believer, to bring true conviction and Godly sorrow. Then He leads the repentant Believer to true confession:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
When this happens, God applies “comfort” to the saved sinner, upon the confession of his sin or sins, and upon the forsaking of his sin or sins:
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
Remember the definition given above of the verb “comfort” – “to give strength and hope to.” Upon the Believer’s confession to God of his sin, God grants the Believer the ability to once again feel His Presence, His Peace, and His Power. The Believer’s fellowship with God is once again restored.
A beautiful picture of the above description is found in the emotions of a child when, after discipline from his father, the fellowship is restored with his earthly father.
There are many positive results of a Believer confessing his sins to his Father, as is seen in the following statement of a child who has been forgiven by its father. The forgiven child said, “Father, will it ever be the same?” And the father replied, “No, Sweetie, it will never be the same, but it can be – and will be – better.”
How can it be better when the father has to use the rod of correction? The answer lies in the growth and maturity of the child of God through his faults and sins, and in the process, confession of the same.
The end result of this process is that the fruit of humility comes to fruition. Growth in grace comes to the humble by the Power of God the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18); and the humble shall be exalted in due time (1 Peter 5:5-6).
This thought brings us to the second use of this tool of the Shepherd, “thy staff.”
The staff of a shepherd is used in various and sundry ways. But primarily it (the crook of the neck of the staff) is used for safety and security by the shepherd in his care for his sheep. The shepherd uses the crooked part of the staff to rescue a sheep from hurting itself. Thus, the same tool can be used as a rod for chastisement, and as a staff for the security and safety of the sheep; what is different is how the shepherd uses the tool in and for his sheep.
Christ uses Himself, the Staff, the Living Word of God, to rescue His Sheep over and over again; as the Word leads, guides, directs, and spares the Sheep from the pitfalls of sin, by defining the Way of Holiness and Peace to the Sheep – that is, the way of Righteousness. The written Word of God is used by God the Spirit to correct, convict, and conform the Sheep, by bringing them to confession of their sin.
Praise God for the written Word of God as a Tool for the Living Word (Jesus Christ) to teach the Sheep; to train the Sheep; and to turn the Sheep from sin to righteousness in every aspect of the Sheep’s early journey.
Yes, the Staff, Christ, the Shepherd, the Living Word, is the Sheep’s Security. (Amen and Amen!)
Therefore, the Sheep are never to despise the tools of God (the rod and the staff) to comfort the sheep; for true comfort only can be brought to the Sheep by the Shepherd.