“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Anyone who wonders about the work of the shepherd needs to read “thefisherlady’s” comment to me in my post “23 Pt. 9.” Her story is so poignant in light of our current discussion. She said:“Three summers ago we had a bear attack on our goat herd. As I came out that evening to the sound of a goat call of agony from our forest, I did not hesitate to jump fences and run to the sound. As I called her she called back and I kept running. Past one dead goat kid then another and another, then my best milker, and still I ran and her cries grew louder. When I saw her under a massive black bear, fighting for her life I grabbed the first stick I could and even as I swung it the bear fled from my wrath. The stick broke as it smashed against a poplar and there I was staring at a bear as the bear stared back at me. At this point I think we were both wondering if a broken stick was something to be afraid of. I thank God, my 8 month old border collie arrived, keeping the bear away while we could gather up goats and do a head count….
All that summer due to 350 acres of oats planted at our neighbour’s, and twenty bears visiting them each day, I had to take my goats into our green pastures and herd them all day long. A quiet stream meandered through the area and with our new guardian puppy and my young Blue dog we played and frolicked with the goats, we lay in the long grass and rested in the shade of a big tree; really and truly I understood how perhaps David spent his shepherding days. I was always attentive to the sounds around us, ready for any predators. When out of exhaustion I would sleep, I would awaken to the dogs guarding beside me and the goats around them resting and chewing their cuds. My goat that had called me to rescue her, had had 200 puncture wounds and she didn’t want to die; five days later, by God’s grace, she delivered on her own a lovely kid doe which we named Victory … after I Corinthians 15:54… and death is swallowed up in Victory!
Two years later both mom and daughter delivered wonderful twins each on the same day. My Blue dog and Sam dog take their work seriously so we are still able to rest in the green pastures.
I loved how you mentioned about the smell of herbs and the fragrance of peace! It is that exactly and it reminded me of that long and beautiful summer as a shepherd with so much time to be still and know that He is God! The Lord is indeed Our Good Shepherd!
As I was meditating on verse 4 a few weeks back, Holy Spirit began to speak to me about His rod and His staff which comfort me in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I could never say I didn’t fear evil if it weren’t for His rod and His staff. Without them all my positive thinking and focus on the greener pastures would still be obscured by the ever-presence of evil about me. After all it’s not the green pastures that defeat evil. It is the Lord with His rod and His staff that chases my boogeymen away. If all I had were green pastures before me and no God with me in the present circumstance I would still be afraid, because there would be a very real chance of never making it to the pastures no matter how green they may be.
Yet the Lord has assured me that because of His rod and His staff “no weapon formed against me will prosper” Isa. 54:17! He can and will defeat every evil force arrayed against me!
Oh! But it’s even better than that! His rod and His staff are not just for the predators lurking in the dark. His rod and His staff are fashioned to keep me on the path when I lose sight of it in life’s gloom. I am prone to wandering, especially in those moments when life goes a little catywhompus. If I had to depend on my own ability to keep myself on the straight and narrow I would certainly despair. The green pastures would forever be out of reach and I would be lost. But I have a Shepherd who has both Rod and Staff to guide me back onto the path when I take a step away from the Way. Oh surely that is a great comfort! Neither enemies without or within shall keep me from reaching the green pastures. For the Shepherd has made it His job to get me through!