Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)
TITLE: They Comfort Me
By Pastor Curtis J. Johnson, Jr. M.Div.
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Confronted by and at times overwhelmed by difficult life circumstances, it's no wonder that we are comforted and encouraged by the Psalms. These songs and poetic expressions are poured out at times from a very dark and heavy place in the heart of the writer. These deeply emotional expressions have proven time and again to soothe the minds and hearts of even the most remote reader. Drawn into the experiences of measured pain attributed to the the attacks of foreign or spiritual enemies, personal sin or chastisement which is rightly appropriated by a righteous and
The twenty third Psalm is one of the most quoted passages in scripture, depicting the gentle, loving, provision and protection of our Good Shepherd. With rod and staff in hand, he provides comfort for his precious sometimes stubborn sheep. How often we've read this portion of scripture by memory, quoting each rote phrase with a sense of detached complacency.
No longer does the watch care of our Good Shepherd take hold of us, causing a deep abiding reverence and admiration for the selfless sacrifices of the shepherd on our behalf.
When did we become so indifferent to our need for provision and protection? We no longer consider ourselves sheep, those ignorant, self-absorbed, creatures of habit who must be constantly redirected, oblivious to the dangers of their own environment.
Our prideful sense of self-sufficiency rob us of the deeply intimate
connection once enjoyed. While we entertain an illusion of spiritual blessing, the rod and staff are seen as mere tools to keep sheep in line or support for the weary shepherd standing for hours in this menial occupation.
Though easy to draw such conclusions, one must carefully observe the writer stating, "his rod and staff, they comfort me." I am comforted by these tools of the trade which provide protection for me. He, the Good Shepherd observes the lurking predators of our faith. These relentless scavengers whose bellies growl loudly for our destruction. His staff gently guiding us to stay close to his loving side. The rod overpowers every enemy who is desirous of our soul.
It is within these confines that he prepares for us a table, allowing us to peacefully enjoy his endless provision while our enemies look on from a distance with disgust. His rod and staff, my comfort.
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