Sunday morning, our family had a Bible study. Usually, we go through whatever Proverb that corresponds with the date, so we read through the 13th chapter. I have read through Proverbs many times, and it never fails to amaze me that I can find SOMETHING that applies to my life that day.
Years ago, we learned that, when you sit down to read God's word, you should pray and ask Him for a word or "Rhema" that will carry you through the day. I have to say, any time I have taken the time to do this...God has been faithful (as usual) to answer my request. In Luke 11:3 where Luke gives his version of the "Lord's prayer", he says, "Give us day by day our daily bread." This is just slightly different than the version in Matthew 6:11 which says, "Give us this day our daily bread" which is the way I have always known it to be. For some reason, Luke's version speaks to me more plainly. God gave His children manna from heaven day by day. Each morning they awoke and it was there. God never failed them, even though they failed Him numerous times...as do we. Our manna from heaven is in God's word, if we ask, if we seek, He will supply our daily bread day by day. I must admit, that I have always thought of the Lord's Prayer literally in terms of real food...not spiritual food.
Anyway, I digress from my original thought.
On this day, God supplied some spiritual bread for me. It came in the form of Proverbs 13:24 which says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." My kids just hate that scripture! LOL We never fail to point out that this is where God gives us instruction to discipline our children in order to love them! A fact that they have real trouble believing.
However, this isn't about chastening our children...not today, well, not really...ok, kinda. :)
As we were poking at our kids about the meaning of this verse, a light went on in my head & I thought of Psalm 23:4. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
Again, I have always thought of this verse literally; the rod & staff as a shepherd's tools. After all, weren't the Psalms written by David-a shepherd? Of course, we tend to make our points to others in ways that we are familiar with. But, for the first time, I thought of the word "rod" in the same way as it is referenced in Proverbs when dealing with our children.
Are we not the children of God?
Does He not love us as much as, if not more than, we do our kids?
Here is my understanding: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Here, I feel that this is referring (at least, to me) to the world in which we live. We walk on this earth under the shadow of the punishment of death as brought on us by Adam & Eve. No one can escape this inevitable ending to our lives. Death is all around us, both literally & spiritually. There are so many things in today's world that can lure us, but will only bring death to our souls. We walk constantly under the shadow of death. I don't know that I am most concerned about physical death as I am about spiritual death. Although, I don't relish the thought of either one!
Next portion: "...I will fear no evil..." As children of God, we have nothing to fear. The grave can only be harmful to us if we suffer spiritual death, and, as long as we stay close to our Shepherd, we will remain spiritually alive.
Now, here is the part that really got me to thinking: "...for thou art with me, thy ROD and thy staff, they comfort me." As God's kids, He sometimes finds it necessary to apply the rod of correction in order to protect us from dangers, and even death. Likewise, with our own children, we are to be looking out for their lives, both physically & spiritually. There are many things that they either don't see or aren't even aware exists. It is up to us to use our rod to guide & direct their paths safely. I know for myself, there is a comfort in the knowledge that an all-seeing God is looking out for my safety. No, I don't enjoy or even like when He has to use the rod on me, but He does.
Does a good shepherd use his rod to beat or hurt his sheep? Does God harm us in His use of the rod? Absolutely not! The rod is for gentle, steady correction; firm & constant.
Even though a child probably does not realize it, and, if they did, they would never admit it, the boundaries created by their "shepherds" are a source of comfort & well-being. With boundaries, there comes peace, both to the child & the parent. Just the same as it is with us & God.
I love knowing that God looks out for me, that I am in the palm of His hand. He knows the things in this life that will harm me & therefore uses His rod to steer me right. In the knowledge of these things, there is love.