Shepherd’s Rod, Shepherd’s Staff

Published on Wednesday, 01 April 2020 03:00
Written by Stewardship Today Staff

Shepherd’s Rod, Shepherd’s Staff

 

The baton-wielding orchestra leader is a model of direction defined, in part, by the presence of a master commander who carries a stick. An extension of the conductor’s own arm, the baton assists in directing dozens of skilled individuals able to achieve collective goals because they focus attention on the one who knows the journey ahead better than anyone, and the worthy conductor is faithful to lead. In David’s ever-popular Twenty-Third Psalm, a shepherd mirrors the care and protection of the Almighty, and his staff serves as the mark of leadership too.

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”

Author Phillip Keller—naturalist, wildlife photographer, and a shepherd himself—wrote, “The rod was, in fact, an extension of the owner’s own right arm. It stood as a symbol of his strength, his power, his authority in any serious situation. The rod was what he relied on to safeguard both himself and his flock in danger. And it was, furthermore, the instrument he used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insisted on wandering away.” A conductor would never use his baton for such a purpose, but a shepherd might need to every day. From the pens of shepherds, thus—both Israel’s King David and East Africa’s Phillip Keller—we find a message for today. The rod and the staff of God dispense safety and courage, and as he grants both, the Lord calms our fears.