Thursday April 28- “Your rod and your staff they comfort me”
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13)
“Your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
These are the instruments of protection and help the shepherd is skillful at using, for himself and for his sheep. The rod is a piece of a tree at the root that forms a ball. The shepherd fashioned just for himself. He practices throwing it and do so with precision. So when a wolf comes he can throw his rod and scare the wolf away. If a sheep strays off the path he throws his rod next to the sheep to guide it back. The rod is also used to help separate the sheep’s woolen coat to check for any diseases or cuts. It conveys the shepherd’s authority, defense, power, discipline.
It is like the word of God which reminds us how Jesus used scripture to counter Stan’s temptation, or Hebrews 4:12 ” the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” So the rod in the hands of our Good Shepherd is the symbol of his authority over evil, but also his authority over us, his disciplining us.
The staff is a long stick with a crook at the end. With it the shepherd can expertly pick his sheep out of a thicket of brambles, of off a rocky ledge. With the staff the shepherd also guides and mages his sheep. The rod can be a symbol of God’s spirit, who guides, comforts, keeps us.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..”
The high country is the goal of the shepherd for his sheep. It is a flat table land. The shepherd went ahead to prepare the area for his sheep. He dug out the poisonous weeds, clears the basins of water. During the summer he is looking out for the predators – the enemies of his sheep.
Jesus does the same. He has gone before us. We stay close to him. We feed on his word to help us cope with the fiery darts of the evil one.
“You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.”
The shepherd puts a mixture of oil, sulfur and tar and over the sheep’s head and nose to protect it from parasites, flies which drive a sheep crazy.
And Jesus anoints us with the oil of his spirit to help us in our daily frustrations with the world and life around us, to keep our minds focused on Him.
Our Good shepherd has set a glorious table before us with the riches of himself and especially as we feed on his supper , we overflow with praise and thanksgiving for who he is and what he did for us on the cross. We come to his table, he has prepared for us, in the presence of our enemy, the evil one and our cup of gratitude overflows.
Will we allow and trust our Good Shepherd to guide us. Do we store his word in our minds to help us in time of trouble? Do we overflow with thanksgiving for his goodness and care?
(by Gerrie Wilkowski)