In Psalm 23 there is a line; “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Verse 4) What is the purpose of a shepherd’s rod or staff? No doubt the shepherd uses it partly as a walking stick and to test the ground or path where he is leading the sheep. But mainly it is used for correcting or disciplining his little charges.
For instance, if a sheep is veering off the right path, the shepherd might reach out his staff to direct the sheep back to safety. He might use it to separate a quarrel or even to administer a quick correction for rebellion. Sometimes a well placed whack sets the record straight and prevents further trouble.
Is correction a comfort? Yes, it really is, isn’t it? Most children will report (if they are being completely honest) that they feel safer and more loved if they are raised with discipline. I heard a girl say once when a friend’s mother was grounding her for something; “I wish my mom would do that.” What she really wanted was a mother who cared enough to correct her.
We have a Good Shepherd who cares enough to correct us. He’s looking out for us every single minute. He’s quick to use His rod to pull us back from danger and to direct us on to the right path. On our own we are likely to get in trouble but not with His staff there as a protection. Knowing His comforting rod is close and available we can direct our attention to gobbling up those lush green pastures.