"Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4b
Next we come to the rod and staff of a shepherd. The shepherd would use their rod to count their sheep, search the wool for pestilence and also for discipline. They would also use them as a weapon to protect their sheep and themselves from predators. It was a means to keep their sheep from danger.
God’s Word is like that rod. God’s Word keeps us from sin when we are daily in His Word. It’s His spoken authority. Just as the shepherd uses it to discipline, count his sheep and to search for pestilence in their wool, God’s Word tells us that the Great Shepherd searches our heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24.
He desires to search us deep within, if only we will submit. He doesn’t need our permission to search, but He desires for us to trust Him for His care over us. Just as the shepherd has to get down deep in searching the wool for the pestilence, the Great Shepherd needs to get deep down at times to show us the sin in our lives and for us to confess it before Him. We can only do that by being in His Word and humble ourselves before Him.
We can be disobedient at times and just like the sheep want to do things their own way, so do we. The shepherd has to use that rod to control their sheep. God’s Word shows us our disobedience throughout His Word. Our hearts are desperately wicked and only He knows how wicked. He shows us through His Word but He also has the remedy. That remedy was the Great Shepherd, Himself coming down to earth, taking our sins upon His perfect, holy body and taking our punishment for us.
The rod is not only used to count the sheep, search their wool for pestilence, and for discipline, it is also used to protect the sheep and themselves from predators. When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness by Satan, each answer He gave Satan was from Scripture. When we are being tempted to sin, no matter what it is, God’s Word shows us the way out of the temptation. By memorizing Scripture, the Great Shepherd, brings His Word back to us when faced with the temptation of any sin. He is our protector and He is always there for us.
The next object the shepherd carries is the staff and it was used for the sheep ONLY and for their comfort. God has sent us His Holy Spirit as our Comforter. As shepherds used the staff to draw the sheep to themselves, the Holy Spirit draws us to a closer relationship with our Great Shepherd.
Just as the staff guides the sheep in the right direction so does the Holy Spirit guide us in our relationship with our Great Shepherd. He brings to light sin in our lives, He is an ever present comfort and guidance to us when going through difficult trials, decisions in our lives and even questions we may have. He points us to God’s Word and is guiding us in the right direction if we listen and pay attention to His leading.
In the painting, you will see the Bible opened to Psalm 23, representing the rod and the dove above, representing the Holy Spirit, the staff. The sheep below representing us and reminding us that both God’s Word and His Holy Spirit are our comfort. When going through difficulties or just in your everyday life are you Drawn to the Shepherd?
In this special blog series, I painted Psalm 23 verse by verse, personalizing the verses from a sheep's devotion to their Great Shepherd. Each picture is painted on a roof slate with acrylic paint. There are a total of 12 blogs when completed.