A rod is used for correcting the sheep. The same word is used in Proverbs 22:15 “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
The rod is also used for counting the sheep, as in Lev. 27:32, “whatever passes under the rod, a tenth shall be holy to the Lord.” The shepherd would count his sheep not just for making sure that he had them all but also so that he would also give back to the Lord a tenth, or that which was holy to God. In ministry we count people because people count. Numbers are important to the Lord because each number represents a person. The rod also reminds me to count whatever the Lord has entrusted to me, whether it is time, money, abilities and other resources, and wants us to count it as holy to the Lord.
The rod is used for commanding the sheep. The word for rod is also translated as scepter ten times. For instance, Ps. 45:6 says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” The rod of God shows the command of the Lord which is sovereign. When you need some comfort and security from the Shepherd, look to His sovereign scepter and bow in prayer but also bow in obedience. God is in charge and is sovereign.
A staff is used for the protection of the sheep. Sheep are vulnerable to prey and when David went to fight Goliath, he remembered that he used his staff to fight off enemies of his sheep. “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.” Later, David not only took his sling and some stones to fight Goliath but 1 Samuel 17:40 says, “he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had.”
The staff was also used to represent the very presence of the owner. Elisha gave his staff to Gehazi, saying, “Take my staff in your hand, and be on your way...Lay my staff on the face of the child.” In so doing, it was a representation of the prophet's presence. In the New Testament, God's presence with us is called the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is more than a representation, the Comforter is the actual and very presence of God within us.
Tomorrow, we will see more of how the rod and staff comfort, correct and protect us.
“Dear Lord, help me gain comfort even in your correction and protection of me. Thank you for the presence of Your Holy Spirit in me. Amen.”