Today I will be starting a new 7 part exposition series on the beloved Psalm 23:4b “thy rod and thy staff”.
This introductory post will mark the first post in this new series. I hope you are encouraged and built up in your faith!
So let’s get started:
“Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4b
When David spoke these words he was, in anticipation, passing down the ‘valley of death,’ his spirit poised upon its wing for heaven. It is befitting and profitable to pause amid the engagements and turmoil of this present life, and forecast the hour and the scene when its business and its probation will close- lost amid the realities and solemnities of the life that knows no ending. He is a wise man who meditates frequently and seriously upon his latter end. Common and certain as death is, alas! it is the last event of our history with which we make ourselves familiar!
Wiser far the heathen monarch who, amid the pomp and splendor of his court- the wine and the music of the banquet- ever and anon bent his ear to catch the warning of the attendant at his side- “Remember, O king, you are mortal!” Less eccentric, and more real, was the mode by which Joseph of Arimathea sought to familiarize his mind with his certain dissolution. In the excavation of a rock, encircled by the flowers and foliage of his garden, he built a tomb for his body- “a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus.”
And as, at eventide, he walked in his garden, and gazing upon its beauty and breathing its fragrance, he would pause before his prepared tomb, and recall the impressive ‘cry’ of the Prophet- “All flesh is grass, and all the goodness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withers, the flower fades.” If, in the sublime language of the Burial Service, “in the midst of life we are in death,” then should the thought, the imagery, and the preparation of death be ever present with our minds.
And we hold that there is nothing inappropriate or incongruous in the idea that, in whatever place or engagement we may be occupied, the prospect of our dissolution should impart a tone to every feeling, a character to every circumstance, and a sanctity to every thought, word, and action of our life. It were no mere fanciful exaggeration of the sentiment were the muffled death knell to blend with the joyous music- the bridal robe to suggest the image of the pale shroud- and the thronged and sumptuous hall, thoughts of the lone and vaulted tomb- for ‘in the midst of life’- the most busy, festive, and hilarious- ‘we are in death.’
We now turn to the Christian’s “Rod and Staff,” -his guidance and support in that eventful and solemn hour.