Summary: Going through some valleys with His protection
Psalm 23: The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest. It makes me lie down only when exhausted. It leads me into deep depression, it hounds my soul. It leads me in circles of frenzy for activities’ sake. Even though I run frantically from task to task, I will never get it all done, for my “ideal” is with me. Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me. They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule. They anoint my head with migraines, my in-basket overflows. Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever. Author Unknown
On the first day, God created the dog and said: ’Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.’ The dog said: ’That’s a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten?’ So God agreed. On the second day, God created the monkey and said: ’Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.’ The monkey said: ’Monkey tricks for twenty years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?’ And God agreed. On the third day, God created the cow and said: ’You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.’ The cow said: ’That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I’ll give back the other forty?’ And God agreed again. On the fourth day, God created humans and said: ’Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.’ But the human said: ’Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?’ ’Okay,’ said God, ’You asked for it.’ So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves... For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone. As we walk “through the valley we find Your rod and your staff give me courage.”
As we have been going through this psalm we found out in the last two messages that God is with us as we walk through the valley. We said last week that this is a time that we are traveling as sheep to a better place but to get there we have to go through the valley. It is during this time that we are alone with the Shepherd and so we come to the place where we find out about what He can do with His rod and staff as He guides us. I like to think of it as “A FEARLESS WALK THROUGH A DANGEROUS VALLEY.” The Shepherd is there with His rod and staff for our comfort and leadership.
I want us first to understand what these tools are from what we can find out. First we have the Rod which was club about 2’ long with a knob on the end of it about the size of one’s fist. Into that knob was driven sharp pieces of metal. It was used to ward of enemies such as a bear or a lion because with one quick blow you could put to death such an animal. This rod was the Shepherd’s symbol of authority, power, discipline and defense against danger.
The Staff was slender stick with a small prong on the end of it which served as a hook. It was used to help get the sheep out of trouble such as when it was stuck in thick branches. It usually came from an almond tree. An almond tree represented long life. It was strong so one could lean upon it which points to an emblem of Divine strength and support.
Today we would liken this to the Holy Spirit. Think of how dark life would be without what God has provided?
“Oh, to have no Christ, no Savior, How lonely life must be. Like a sailor boat and driven on a wide and shoreless sea. Oh, to have no Christ, no Savior, no hand to clasp thine own. Through the dark, dark vale of shadows, thou must press thy way alone. W. O. Cushing