“Yea, 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 (ESV)
You might be facing difficult financial challenges. Maybe you’ve been told that you have some incurable disease, or maybe it’s just that everything is going wrong? It doesn’t matter how bad circumstances are, you do not have to fear because God is with you! He will never leave you for any reason. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you; He is with you every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5). And He is not only with you to bring comfort and encouragement, but also to help you experience victory and reign over the challenges.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”
Psalm 46:1-7 (KJV)
God is our refuge (a place of safety or shelter) and He is our strength (we can be strong in Him – Ephesians 6:10), but He is also our “very present help in trouble.” In difficult times, God wants to minister to your heart, but He also wants to help you practically.
“…I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:4 (ESV) – emphasis mine
Knowing that God is with you is only part of the reason why you don’t need to fear. Knowing that God is with you and that He has His rod and staff with Him will comfort you. Many people will default to thinking that the rod and staff are used to discipline us with a beating or to punish us when we do wrong, but that is not the case at all.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
Your loving heavenly Father doesn’t correct you by punishing you, and He doesn’t correct you through hardships (including sickness, lack or chaos). God’s correction (or discipline) is always corrective and He does it through His Word. The problem is that because so many Christians aren’t in the Word, we are not able to receive the correction, and as a natural result, we suffer. We don’t suffer because God wants us to suffer; we suffer because we didn’t receive the correction.
“Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.”
Psalm 23:4 (TLB)
God’s rod and staff are for our protection and guidance. It’s referring to the Word of God. Once again this stresses the importance of being full of God’s Word in order to reign in life. God’s Word protects us by keeping us on the right path (Psalm 119:105). A rod (a shorter stick) was used by the shepherd to lead, guide and bring correction. The psalmist is saying that the Word of God, which leads Him and corrects him, brings Him comfort. The staff is a longer stick, like a walking stick, and has a large hook on the top of it, it would be used for support but also to hook around the sheep’s neck or leg to lead it back on track or draw it back to the shepherd. And so, God uses His Word to support us, lead us back on track, and to draw us closer to Himself.
Even in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me. The guidance and correction I receive from Your word comforts me, protects me, leads me and draws me closer to You.