Sermon

The Rod of Comfort

Michael Beck Michael Beck

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God lamented that His chastisement of His children had not produced the desired effect.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have
rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they
have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. (Isaiah 1:2-5)

Maturity depends upon a dual commitment on our part: 1.) putting away what is evil in the sight of God; and, 2.) learning to do what is good in the sight of God.

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 1:16-20)

There were only two choices for the children of Israel: corrective or consuming judgment.

O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:24)

Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have
driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished. (Jeremiah 46:28)

A child should know that the chastening they undergo is not simply an expression of their parent’s wrath, but designed for their ultimate good and done with a merciful heart.

O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. (Psalm 6:1,2)

God would have us understand His corrective judgments in our life.

Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things. (Proverbs 28:5)

We “learn to do well” as we accept the corrective judgments of God in our life and have the wisdom to grasp His program for the season or stage of life we are in.

Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. (Ecclesiastes 8:5,6)

We become “weary and faint in our minds” when we don’t place a high value on the plan of God for our development and fail to recognize it is ordained by the hand of a loving Lord.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:5,6)

All chastening is painful. We can become discouraged when chastened.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees (Hebrews 12:11,12)

It is a natural reaction to feel that a father who chastens us is insensitive and doesn’t care how the chastisement is affecting us. Sometimes, when the Lord is chastening us it seems like He is being too hard on us.

Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.
Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? (Job 10:8-10)

God does indeed know our “frame.” He “remembers” who we are and knows where we’re at any given point in our development. He is not harsh or cruel, but merciful and compassionate in His disciplining of us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13,14)

Good shepherds know each of their sheep by name. They are aware of the unique state of each individual in their flock.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. (Proverbs 27:23)

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. (Philippians 2:19)

Both the rod and the staff bring comfort to the sheep. The staff reminds the sheep of the shepherd’s presence. The rod reminds them that the shepherd wants to steer them aright and keep them from going astray.

…Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

David was chosen to be the leader of God’s people because of the gentleness he showed with his sheep.

He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. (Psalm 78:70-72)

There is where people should be and where they are. When we “come down” to where people are we are being gentle.

…Thy gentleness hath made me great. (Psalm 18:35)

gentleness > anvah an-vaw’ > humility, meekness, condescension

We are gentle toward that which we cherish. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children (1 Thessalonians 2:7)

The Father cherishes His children. The Son cherishes His bride. We are called to be as sensitive toward our wives (and our children) as we are to our own bodies.

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church (Ephesians 5:28:29)

Husbands are to dwell with their wives according to a knowledge of their needs and emotions.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Our earthly authorities may be insensitive to our condition and not “rule” well. We never need to fear that God is not overseeing our lives with the skill of a good and wise Shepherd. We are wise to “submit” to His dealings with us.

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:9,10)


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.