Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
His Paths, His Rod, His Presence, My Comfort
Commenting on this psalm, John Gill rightly observed, “Christ leads his (sheep) by faith to walk on in him and in his righteousness, looking through it, and on account of it, for eternal life.”
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake” (v. 3). — Christ leads all his sheep in the same paths. Sometimes the paths chosen for us seem rough and rugged. But they are his paths. They are paths of righteousness. And they lead us home. These are paths (plural) of righteousness. They are paths of faith, self-denial, obedience, and love. And they are always his paths, the paths he has chosen for his sheep. That means — Whatever my paths are, wherever they lead me, they are the best paths possible for me. And he so leads us “for his name’s sake,” for his own glory and the praise of his grace. — “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29).
Here is my protection. — “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (v. 4). If Christ leads me in his path, I must, as long as I live in this world, walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Believers in this world must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And those trials and tribulations are the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 44:18-19; 107:10, 14; Jeremiah 13:15-17).
Though I must walk through this valley of the shadow of death, “I will fear no evil.” Why? It is the Lord my Shepherd who leads me into it and through it. How can I fear when my Shepherd walks with me? “I will fear no evil.” I will not fear Satan, the evil one, who walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I will not fear evil men (Psalm 27:1-4) or evil things (Psalm 46:1-4). There is no reason for one whose refuge, strength, and help the Lord is to fear anything.
Child of God, there is no reason for you to fear. “For thou art with me” (Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-2). “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” — The allusion here is to the shepherd’s staff, by which he both counted his sheep and directed his sheep (Leviticus 27:32; Jeremiah 33:13; Ezekiel 20:37; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 11:7). His word is a rod of strength. And his promises are a staff of consolation. By these we are sustained and comforted in the midst of all our trials.
The Shepherd’s rod has many uses. The crook is used to retrieve straying sheep. The rod is used to direct the sheep. The rod is also used to protect the sheep. And the rod is used for numbering the sheep when he brings them into the fold. At conversion, in effectual calling, he causes his sheep to pass under the rod and brings them into the bond of the covenant, sealing to his chosen, redeemed, called sheep all the blessings of his grace and salvation (Ezekiel 20:37). And when our appointed time in this world is finished, he graciously brings his sheep up into his heavenly fold by the rod of his omnipotent mercy.