For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NKJV
I would have rather had Dad’s version any day.
Discipline was a normal part of my growing-up years. Until I left home at eighteen, Dad and Mom used various forms of it to guide my life. I never had to worry about what the rules were. My parents wrote them on paper, communicated them by example, and spoke them through words.
I wasn’t an openly rebellious child—until I reached my teenage years—but like every other child, I had a bent toward disobedience. Inevitably, I broke some of my parents’ rules, which represented God’s rules. When I did, discipline followed.
Dad normally carried out the discipline—and I would have rather had him do it. Dad was cool, calm, and collective. If my infraction warranted time in my room, with a calm voice he sent me there. If my actions merited a spanking, he calmly applied the buckleless black belt to my hindquarters in a predetermined number of licks.
Mom also disciplined with love—but seeing it proved difficult. She normally waited until I or my brothers had irritated her to no end. Then, she applied the discipline, which was always the belt. Although she never abused us in any form, her strikes, while on the bottom part, resulted from anger and frustration.
Some distinguish between discipline and punishment, saying the first involves a teaching element while the second merely stops the behavior, giving no teaching element in the process. I never knew the difference growing up. My behavior stopped, and I learned.
As a child and teen, I lived under the rod and the staff. So did David’s sheep. Like any good shepherd, David carried both instruments. He used the rod for discipline and protection. When a sheep wandered off or sought to eat poisonous weeds, he threw the rod. If he needed to inspect a sheep for parasites, he used the rod to part their wool. When a sheep strayed too close to a ledge, he used the crook in his staff to pull it back. If he wanted to spend a little extra time with one of his sheep, he used the staff to draw the sheep near.
As our great Shepherd, God uses both instruments on us as well. God’s discipline proves His love for us. If He let us go our own rebellious way without intervention, His actions would prove His lack of care and concern for us. Discipline, in whatever form—and contrary to how it might appear at the moment—shows love, not hate.
God also uses His staff—the indwelling Spirit He gives when we choose to follow Him—to guide us along the right paths, draw us near to Him, and rescue us from dangerous adventures. He also uses His Word to remind us what the right paths are.
Don’t fear life under God’s rod and staff. They demonstrate His love.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for loving us enough to correct us when we go astray.
Tweetable: Do you willingly accept God's discipline?
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