Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me…

Ethiopia photos 2004 083

One of the images from the Bible that has always given me a sense of peace and calm is found in the second half of verse four of the 23rd Psalm: “Your rod and staff, they comfort me.  What is the “Rod and staff” of the Lord?  Psalm 23 is often referred to as the “Shepherd’s Psalm.”

The “Rod” of the Lord symbolizes the shepherds stick that could be used to beat away and shoo away dangerous animals that preyed on the flock.  In like manner, the Lord is there to shoo away danger that threatens believers.

The “Staff” of the Lord is symbolic of the shepherd’s staff that has a curved end that is used to reign in a sheep that strays from the flock.  For the most part, sheep travel together under the direction of a shepherd.  Sometimes, one or more sheep will wander off or just simply will not get with the program and go another way.  I have traveled to Ethiopia on four different occasions with one of the members of my church, Dr. Ingida Asfaw, who has a meaningful ministry of health to that country.  You can read more about his ministry at

One of the things that struck me as quite fascinating was to watch flocks of sheep being led by a shepherd, not only in the rural areas of the country, but also through the streets of Adis Abba, presumably in route to their slaughter.  Every now and then I would see the shepherd walking with one of the sheep straddled around the back of his neck as he held the animal by each of its four legs.  The first time I saw this I looked over at Dr. Asfaw and asked him why did one of the sheep rate being carried by the shepherd.  He replied, “Perhaps that sheep is being carried because he does not like where the flock is being led.”  It was funny at the time, but it got me thinking that the shepherd would most likely do the same thing if one of the sheep was injured, sick, or simply scared.  The good shepherd takes care of the sheep.

The rod and staff of the shepherd provide protection from dangers from the outside and self-inflicted danger brought on by the sheep themselves.  In like manner, the rod and staff of the Lord is there to protect us from within and without.  When you offer your prayers today, I encourage you to call upon the Lord to protect you from others and also to protect you from yourself.

Psalm 23: 4 …your rod and your staff— they comfort me. [1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are your thoughts about comfort in the “Rod and staff” of the Lord?
  2. What do you find most comforting about being a “Sheep in the flock of the Lord?”
  3. What is it about being a “Sheep in the flock of the Lord” do you find discomforting?



Lord, your rod and staff give me comfort.  Your rod and staff prod me in the right direction.  When I stray off the path of your will, your rod and staff seek me, find me and nudge me back on the right track.  Lead me and I will follow.  Take me to the water and I shall drink.  Show me green grass and I will stop and eat.  Lord, you are my shepherd.  Lord, you are my hope, my light and my joy. Lord, your rod and staff, they comfort me.  I thank you for your love and protection.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

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More about the ministry of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 23:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.