The Good Shepherd Protects and Corrects
Jesus told His disciples that He was the good shepherd who was willing to lay down His life for the sheep to protect them from harm. A true shepherd is sacrificial and understands that there is a cost to leading and shepherding the sheep.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
The valleys have a good purpose for the sheep, but they can also be dangerous for them. The valleys can be a place of fresh streams of water where the sheep can quench their thirst in the heat of summer. However, the valleys can also be a place of fear and uncertainty and the sheep and the shepherd are hedged in and unable to easily escape from the grip of predators. A shepherd knows the dangers of remote valleys and that he would be the only one out there who can protect his sheep.
David had experienced first-hand being a shepherd and a sheep. As a shepherd, he was willing to risk his life and put himself in danger of a lion and a bear in order to protect the sheep (See 1 Samuel 17:34-37). His focus was not to lose any of his lamb and not to allow them be harmed even when caught by a predator.
As a sheep, David knew God’s deliverance in his roles as a shepherd and a king. God had protected David from predators and enemies and had given him success in some very challenging situations. David had seen God’s hand and His Shepherding in His life and was strengthened and comforted by the Lord.
In verse 4 in the above passage, David also tells us that the shepherds’ rod and the staff are comforting to the sheep. A good shepherd uses the rod and the staff to protect the sheep and to guide the sheep. The same rod that would have been thrown at a predator by a skillful shepherd would also alert the sheep not to get off track from the fold. A good shepherd knows that sometimes you need to shoo away the harm and the danger from the sheep, and, at other times, you need to pull your sheep back in the boundary of safety, so they would not be harmed.
This is very important for us as a people of God. Nowadays, most people, including Christians, are only looking for an encouraging and uplifting word. However, if someone you love is at a edge of a cliff and about to be harmed, they don’t need an encouraging word but a direct warning that should prompt them to run away from the edge of the cliff as fast as possible. As a matter of fact, an encouraging word may confuse them and prevent them from grasping the danger they are about to step into.
The rod and staff in the hands of a good shepherd provide safety and security. David knew this as a shepherd, and he also had experienced it as a sheep receiving God’s protection and discipline in his life leading him out of dark places in life to the warmth of His love and acceptance.
Are you afraid today? Sometimes the fear is due to uncertain situations in life. At other times, it is due to not being willing to receive God’s rod and staff in our lives. If you have veered off from the course that God has for you, you may have found yourself in dark shadowy places. Some of us are so independent that any form of protection or correction feels like control in our lives. However, if we want to experience the depth of God’s love and experience His care for us, we need to let go of our independence and trust His shepherding in our lives. When we give him room, we will feel greater comfort, security, peace. And the darkness will only be a shadow that has no power to keep us bound or down because the Lord will help us back to light and safety. Thank you Jesus. Amen!