…thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The rod is referred to many times in the Bible as meaning either a symbol of authority or an old fashion switch. Now, a switch is a young tree limb, usually thin and a few feet long, with just enough bend in it to really wear out the back of a disobedient child’s legs. The rod of correction is mentioned several times in the Bible and is still around today, however, it has taken many forms over the centuries. In my day, the rod of correction was called a belt.
Normally, the belt accompanied a spanking, which I wouldn’t have called comforting when I was getting it. In fact, spankings are rarely physically comfortable. So what did David mean when he said that the rod of the Father comforted him? How are we supposed to interpret this? In a day and age where parents can be arrested for so-called child abuse simply for disciplining their child, do children still seek the rod for comfort?
The staff of the Shepherd is for our protection, to keep us from danger even if it hurts us in the process. We sheep are stupid, the staff pulls us from danger and prods us back to where we should be.
The rod of the Shepherd is for our welfare. When the Shepherd finds a sheep who strays and keeps throwing itself in danger, He breaks the legs of the sheep with His rod and carries it on His shoulders wherever He goes. He cares for that sheep until it is able to walk again; and when the sheep can walk, it stays by the Shepherd, knowing that He cares for it and will do what is best for it.
The sheep find comfort in the bruises and bumps because they know that the pain they feel is a gift. The wounds of the Shepherd are symbols of love. They hurt Him as much as they hurt us. The Father is the Shepherd and He doesn’t like inflicting pain upon His children. But, He knows what’s best for them. We feel the pain because He cares enough to not give us what we want, but what we need, no matter how much it hurts.
The rod and the staff are not just punishment, they are security, protection, and love. David felt comfort in the reproof and punishment for his actions. The censure of the Father to His children is a sign of His love. I’d rather be broken for my straying than be allowed to wander off to my death in an unseen trap or snare. The rod isn’t a curse, it is a comfort.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist