The Lord is my shepherd
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (v.4).
This Psalm through the repeated use of the present tense (is my shepherd, makes me to lie down in green pastures, leads me to the still waters, restores my soul, leads me in paths of righteousness) reminds us that the Lord is with us at the present moment. Even in the valley of the ‘shadow of death’ He is with us; His rod and staff cheer, guide and comfort us.
A rod is a strong stick that Shepherds used to drive away wild animals. I remember growing up in a village where we had to walk narrow paths, and gullies. I was frightened of deadly cobras that would lurk by the side of the walking path. My grandfather used to take a rod with him and tap the ground a few steps ahead of him. The noise and vibration caused by the tapping of the rod would drive the snakes away and make the path safe for us. The word of God is a ‘rod’ in our journey. When thoughts of gloom, doubt and despair crowd our mind God’s word will drive away such negative thoughts and cheer us.
A staff is a rod with a hook at the end for the shepherd to guide the sheep. Sheep are innocent animals which could drift away unconsciously. Shepherds used staffs to gently guide the sheep and bring them back to the fold. When we drift away from God, often it starts with a small seemingly innocent thought; it can, however, lead to a slippery slope of despair and discouragement. In times like these, let the Holy Spirit guide us back into fellowship with God and provide us with comfort and encouragement.
“When our child died and were left nearly broken hearted and depressed I found a staff in the promise “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Ps.30:5 (Abbot Benjamin Vaughan)
We all go through many valleys in our life’s journey. Death casts a frightening shadow over us because we are entirely helpless in its presence. Only our Lord, the good shepherd, can walk us through death’s dark valley and bring us safely to the other side. There may be other valleys in our life, like the loss or illness of a loved one, special needs of a child or an aging parent which could overwhelm us and render us listless. In all such situations, God’s Word and Holy Spirit will comfort and guide us.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for being my good shepherd and leading and guiding me! Thank you for comforting me with your rod and staff!......Amen
Thought for the day: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for His sheep” (John 10:11)
John Abraham, Carmel MTC, Hudson, M A