Tag Archives: Shepherd

Rod [and] Staff


šēḇet [and] miš‘eneṯ

Today we discover a twofold provision of the Shepherd that is rooted in the simplicity of ancient sheepherding. Psa_23:4 assures us, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

While there are times when these two words are a little difficult to differentiate—in some contexts perhaps even interchangeable—there is little problem in the present context. Rod is šēḇet (H7626), which is used in a variety of ways in the OT: a crude weapon (2Sa_23:21, staff), a threshing tool (Isa_28:27, rod), the shaft of a spear (2Sa_18:14, “darts”), and an instrument of discipline (Pro_13:24; Pro_22:15; Pro_29:15, rod). It is also used to refer to a tool to collect and count sheep (Lev_27:32; Eze_20:37).

Staff, then, is miš‘eneṯ (H4938), which refers to a “staff, pole, or support,” such as a cane or crutch (Exo_21:19; Zec_8:4). It is also a symbol of authority, such as a ruler’s scepter (Num_21:18) or the prophet’s staff (2Ki_4:29). Regarding the shepherd, this brings to mind the familiar image of the staff with a crook at the top used to rescue a sheep from a cliff or gully.

This provides us with the complete picture. As we journey through “the valley of the shadow of death,” it is with the rod the Shepherd protects us from the predators that attack and it is with the staff He rescues us from other perils that befall. That is why David says, in short, it is in this there is complete “comfort.” Just the sight of these “shepherd’s tools,” in fact, is a comfort; just knowing they are there ready for use is enough to calm our concerns. While much of the world’s so-called “comfort” comes from syrupy sentimentality, psychobabble, and philosophical clichés—into which even many Christians have been lured—the Shepherd provides true comfort by His very presence though His Word.

Dear Christian Friend, are you trusting in the Shepherd and His “tools” to safely protect and rescue you as you walk daily through life’s dangerous valley?

Scriptures for Study: What is the source of our comfort in Psa_119:50 (also Rom_15:4)?




Filed under Hebrew

David, the Shepherd King


Psalm 78:70-72


So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands,” Psalm 78:72.



This morning I read where a highly recruited high school football player was denied an invitation to a prominent NCAA team. He was not denied because the recruiters decided he did not have enough talent, nor was he denied because he had committed a serious crime. He was denied because of how he had mishandled a certain social media network. The university that was recruiting him determined that he would not be a benefit to its team—despite his extreme talent—because of his absence of character and integrity.


King David showed the opposite of this story. He did not have extreme leadership talent that had been tested in the arena of politics. The only experience he had was shepherding sheep; yet, God selected him to be the leader of His people. What was so great about David that made God choose Him? It was his character and integrity, developed by humbly watching sheep.


I am not sure what you or others might think of your own abilities, but history shows that God would rather have an unlearned peasant with integrity in His service, than a skilled workman who lacks character. God chooses the foolish things of the world to do His work so that no one will boast in anyone but God. (Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.)





Will you pursue after God’s heart today?


Mark Clements



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Filed under Inspirational

LORD Is My Shepherd [Jehovah-Rō‘iy]


Yāhweh Rō‘iy


Psalms 23 is another great psalm of comfort, to many readers the greatest of all, for in it we find another “Jehovah-compound,” the LORD Is My Shepherd. The Hebrew behind shepherd (rō‘iy, or rō‘eh, H7462) is one of many words that have a truly ancient history. It goes all the way back to the Akkadian (re‘û) (an extinct Semitic language that existed in Assyria and Babylon), and is then subsequently found in Phoenician, Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Arabic.


Appearing some 170 times in the OT, rō‘iy pictures the simplicity of ancient civilization. Shepherding was the most common occupation throughout ancient Palestine, and this common, ordinary word simply refers to the feeding of domestic animals. Such a mundane word, however, was transformed by biblical usage. It was used to describe the true function of the leaders of God’s people. A true leader is not a despot or dictator who not only drives his sheep but sometimes even slaughters them. Rather, a true leader is a shepherd who leads, tends, feeds, and protects his sheep at the risk of his own life.


Our Lord, of course, is the Great Shepherd. As Charles Spurgeon writes in his The Treasury of David, “What condescension is this, that the Infinite Lord assumes towards his people the office and character of a Shepherd!” Think of it! God descended and assumed one of the lowliest occupations in the ancient world. Likewise, the true function of the king of Israel was to be a shepherd (2Sa_5:2; 2Sa_7:7; Jer_3:15), as was that of other leaders, although at times they did it badly (Jer_2:8; Jer_22:22; Eze_34:2-3; Eze_34:8; Eze_34:10).


Coming to the NT, the word pastor is the direct descendant of that OT precedent. The word “pastors” in Eph_4:11, in fact, is a translation of the Greek poimēn (G4166), which means shepherd (poimēn is used to translate rā‘â in the Septuagint). In Classical Greek, it referred to the herdsman who tended and cared for the sheep. It was also used metaphorically to refer to a leader, a ruler, or a commander. Plato, for example, compared “the rulers of the city-state to shepherds who care for their flock.” This meaning was carried over into the NT. A pastor leads, tends, feeds, and protects the sheep that God has entrusted to his care. What a solemn responsibility!


Scriptures for Study: Read the “Shepherd Trilogy,” noting that in Psalms 22, the Great Shepherdredeems the sheep (cf. Joh_10:11); in Psalms 23, He rescues the sheep (cf. Rev_7:17); and in Psalms 24, He rewards the sheep (cf. 1Pe_5:4).




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Filed under Hebrew