Today’s devotional: finding comfort in the rod and staff

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

I’ve read and heard that verse countless times in my life… but this morning I had an odd realization: I don’t really know what that final phrase means. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me”—but what exactly does the author of the psalm find reassuring in those two objects?

I’ve always assumed the phrase referred to God using a “rod and staff” as weapons, protecting His children and driving away evil. But according to the latest Wonder of Creation devotional, that’s just one part of the imagery this phrase is meant to evoke:

When all the biblical references are considered, the following meaning comes from the rod and staff: as with a shepherd (figurative of Jesus) they are used to protect against enemies, to discipline, to guide, and to rescue. It’s also fitting that a royal scepter is called a rod. And a rod is frequently mentioned as a weapon. A staff is indicated as a ruler’s symbol of authority that stands between his feet—indicating that a staff is likely the longer of the two….

What a beautiful representation these instruments are of our Shepherd and Savior. He cares for us, protects us, and guides us as with His staff. He disciplines us with His rod. Not only that, He is our Lord, the King of kings and has the sole right to carry the ruling scepter as the monarch of the coming Kingdom. Jesus is our loving Shepherd who will become our eternal ruling Lord.

(Interestingly, the devotional notes that the “shepherd’s crook” commonly seen at Christmas pageants weren’t in common use in the Bible.)

Read the rest of the devotional at Wonder of Creation. This psalm is often referenced at Easter, since there’s no darker time in the Christian story than the days leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. But understanding the signicance of God’s “rod and staff”—tools of protection, guidance, discipline, and royalty—can comfort us even in this “valley of the shadow of death.”

3 Responses to “Today’s devotional: finding comfort in the rod and staff”

  • Very many years ago, when I read that psalm, I saw a musical staff in my minds eye, and the G cleff I thought to be thy rod. I thought the G was for God.
    I thought the ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’, but has to FACE the music someday.

    Music to this day soothes the savage beast; my heart.

  • Deborah Lynn Batchelder says:

    Thank you Catherine Mary, for sharing your thoughts of yester-year… being a musician, I can appreciate the depth of your sentiments… I am, at this moment, picturing Our Father in Heaven as a Beautiful Melody – a Love Song, that continues to ring out to and through God’s children…and when we are in harmony with Him, it is beautiful to behold, but when we are out of tune, or should I say playing our own song or marching to a different beat… well, lets just say it is not so beautiful.

  • bishop says:

    The rod represents protection, the staff represents the Authority of God.

    Protection of God
    Authority of God.

    With those two as the flock of God, we need not “fear any evil.”