Comfort in Strength
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. Psalm 23:4
The shepherd’s rod is a formidable club-like weapon. Upon seeing it one is inclined to wonder what David meant when he said, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” But remember that David had taken the place of a sheep, and that the rod was for use against the enemy. It was no doubt this rod that had been brought into action against the bear which David had slain. As the sheep have no fear of the enemy while the shepherd has the rod in his hand, so we need not fear all those who seek to raise up their heads against us—whether they be physical or spiritual foes.
Then, too, there are snares into which sheep can easily run. One of these is the attraction to long and juicy grass. As the flock moves forward a lamb may notice away to one side an attractive meal. Making its way to it, it will feed contentedly going a little farther and farther, not realizing that it is getting more and more entangled beneath a giant thorn bush. It is the shade of this bush that has kept the grass fresh. When the careless lamb has finished eating there and seeks to return, it finds that it cannot back out; it is made a prisoner beneath the bush. Fortunately for the lamb the shepherd carries his staff, which he will hook around one of the legs of the lamb and thereby gently ease it out. “Thy staff comforts me”—yes, indeed!
—From He Leadeth Me by C.W. Slemming
It may be that the valley of the shadow of death is not just dying. All saints have their dark days and gloomy valley experiences. The very world through which we walk daily is a veritable valley constantly shaded by death and dying. “Lo, I am with you alway,” is the promise of the good Shepherd to His flock (Matthew 28:20). —J. Flanigan