Terry Casales - July 8th, 2021
Whenever I have read Psalm 23 I always wondered why in verse 4 it says “Your rod and Your staff — they comfort me.” Why a rod and a staff? Aren’t they the same thing? Then I looked deeper and discovered in my research that this verse refers to how God protects us and that we can trust Him to lead us as His sheep. The word “staff” according to the Cambridge Dictionary is defined as “a long, strong stick held in the hand that is used to support when walking, as a weapon or as a symbol of authority." The Hebrew word for “staff” is “mishena” which means “something to lean on, trust, support.”
The word “rod” according to the Cambridge Dictionary is defined as “a long, thin pole made of wood or metal. An instrument of punishment or correction; chastisement.” The Hebrew word for “rod” is “sebet” which means “a stick or part of a tree used to count sheep and to protect sheep from other animals.”
The moment I read that a rod is an instrument used for punishment, correction or chastisement I could not help but also notice that it is also defined as “part of a tree.” The Lord led me to see this word in the context of the Cross of Christ. It was at the Cross (the tree) that Jesus took the punishment upon Himself for all of our sins.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:5-6 - NKJV
It was Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who received and took on the chastisement and the punishment that we deserved. He understood that the Cross was Abba’s “sebet” or “rod” that He used for the chastisement of our sins to bring us His Peace, so that we would be healed and made whole. Jesus used it to bring His sheep into the Kingdom of God and to protect us from the evil one because He conquered death for us and saved us from going to hell and being separated from Him for all eternity. Jesus knew that we all needed correction — that we were all led astray by the lies of the enemy and the mindset of his world system. Jesus understood that He was the only Way to lead His sheep back to the fold — to our Heavenly Father. Abba used the Cross as His “rod” and His Son Jesus used it as His “staff” to lead us back to Him so that we could abide under His protection — under the shadow of His wings.
Some ancient shepherds would break a straying lamb’s leg and then splint it so that the lamb would stay with the shepherd and learn to not run off. The sheep had to be broken to realize that it needed to stay close to the shepherd for healing, provision and protection. I feel like part of the reason Jesus became that Lamb for us is because He knew that we did not have the capacity in our own strength to choose not to walk away — because of our sinful nature — so He became the Way for us. He understood that we, as sheep, without a shepherd, can easily be led astray. This was also a reminder of the importance of being completely surrendered and dependent on God and on His leading — listening to His voice and trusting Him to lead us on the right path.
Always be assured that God knows what is best for you, as your Good Father, because He loves you.
He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. - Proverbs 13:24 - NKJV
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. - Proverbs 3:11 - NKJV
As I meditated further on the word “staff” as an instrument of leading, it took me back to the story of Moses and how the Lord God entrusted him to lead His people out of Egypt into the unknown. It is important to note that God first used Moses’ staff as the instrument of a wanderer as he crossed the desert after fleeing Egypt. It was only after he had settled in Midian with Jethro’s tribe, that he learned to use his staff as the instrument of a shepherd, through tending to Jethro’s flock. God taught him how to protect, how to lead and how to correct the sheep. God gave him the responsibility to make sure that none of his flock would go astray, teaching them in the way that they should walk. No doubt Moses also learned how to use his staff as a weapon to protect his sheep against wolves and other predatory animals. Prior to this, Moses had been taught from childhood, growing up in Pharaoh’s palace, how to lead according to the world’s system — according to the culture and to the governing power of Egypt. Moses learned about authority, but it was earthly, kingly authority. After Moses fled to Egypt, God knew that Moses would need to receive spiritual training directly from Him, in preparation for his God-given commission, to free the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery and oppression. In Midian, God taught Moses what it was like to serve under His divine authority which is far higher and greater than any authority he had been under before. It was there that Moses began his own personal journey with God.
Not only did Moses learn how to use what God gave him to lead, to instruct and to protect, God taught him how to use it to demonstrate His power and authority. The humble shepherd’s staff would become the very tool of God’s supernatural mighty power through which the Red Sea was divided, making a safe way out for His people from a desperate and impossible situation and into freedom.