The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” The staff is something you’ve seen many times: long and curved at the end, so the shepherd could rescue a sheep from a ledge it couldn’t escape, or pull back a lamb that was straying. That is the staff in “thy rod and thy staff.” What is the rod?
In a nutshell, the shepherd’s rod was a baseball bat with nails pounded through it.
The Good Shepherd “lays down his life for his sheep” because even the Holy Lands were a dangerous place for sheep, and for anyone who tried to protect them. There were predators that would try to kill and eat the sheep, and so a shepherd didn’t only carry a staff to rescue lost sheep. He also carried a rod so he could fight to the death when an enemy attacked.
The Good Shepherd is a provider who comforts his sheep. He is a provider, and every bit as much an armed guard who will be with his sheep in dangerous places, and would rather die than see one of his little lambs harmed. The Good Shepherd is the Lion of Judah.
Can you find something in the 23rd psalm you haven’t noticed before?