The shepherd’s rod and staff are a symbol of his care for the sheep. “…his rod and staff, alluding to the shepherd’s crook, or the rod under which the sheep passed when they were counted (Le 27:32), or the staff with which the shepherds drove away the dogs that would scatter or worry the sheep” (Matthew Henry) speaks of the shepherd’s watch-care and protection: he counts them and makes sure that they are all gathered to him as he leads them to and from the green pastures and still waters. It also is a rod of protection as he drives away predators.
But as I sit here in this hospital room, I have to think about the rod and staff’s purpose for me. Does the shepherd ever raise his rod and staff on the sheep? I would say yes. Two actions are represented: pushing and pulling. If a sheep will not move forward, perhaps a gentle (or not so gentle!) rap on the backside will encourage him to get moving! And we’ve all seen the shepherd use the crook end to pull back a sheep from going in the wrong direction.
Does our Great Shepherd do the same to us? Absolutely! I’ve recently heard several incidences where the Holy Spirit put out the crook and said, “Don’t do that; don’t go there.” When the “sheep” kept going anyway, each story had the same outcome: TROUBLE! God is constantly looking out for us–His sheep–leading us through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, but heeding that voice is our choice!
He also prods us along: through His Word, or an encouraging statement from a friend or loved one, or through circumstances. Often, when the Lord lays a good deed on my heart that He wants me to do, and I find myself arguing that I’m not sure if it’s really what the Lord wants me to do or not, I’ll ask myself, “Well Wanda, do you think it was Satan that told you to do it?”
Pulling and prodding – oh, may we be gentle, pliable, moveable sheep in our Loving Shepherd’s hands!
And now back to the hospital scene. FYI–my husband’s hip was repaired with a rod, screws and cable wrapping because it was shattered in one spot. His heel is also shattered but that surgery will not happen until the swelling goes down. Is this a prodding/pushing from God? Certainly–for me it’s a push into growing my patience and trust. Each of us has a lesson to be learned through this, and what a blessing to see folks rising to the occasion, allowing God to lead.
Can you hear His voice? “Follow Wanda, just follow.”