“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NLT).
Like many, I love Psalm 23. But when I was young, the rod and staff verse didn’t make sense, because I saw them as tools of punishment and control. It took me a long time to see the rod and staff are a comfort because they’re for protection, not punishment.
The staff is a weapon against the enemy, a tool for rescuing, and a symbol of care and guidance you can rest under. The rod is a word meaning “scepter,” a symbol of royal authority. It’s also interpreted other places in the Bible as “tribe,” as in family. It means you belong here, you have authority to thrive, and you’re empowered to demonstrate the reality of his kingdom.
I know this journey can sometimes be difficult and painful. But he will never leave you, and he will always, always love you. He will heal your heart, renew your mind, and be your unfailing guard and guide through this wilderness.