5. What did David mean when he said in the Psalms: “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)?



He meant that the punishments that God inflicted on him, after all turned out to be blessings and so they were welcome for they came from the hand of God.

This concept – according to which the purpose of God’s punishments is to do us good - is expressed in the following way by the author of Psalm 119: “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. …. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. ….I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psalm 119:67,71,75).

It is confirmed also by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews when he says: “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” (Hebrews 12:11).

However, it must be said also that God uses His rod and His staff against our enemies when He avenges us, so that even in this case His rod and His staff comfort us, for when we see or remember the punishments inflicted by God on those who wrong and hurt us we are comforted and we feel relieved for we realize that our case is before God and He is a righteous God. The Psalmist said to God: “I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself” (Psalm 119:52). Amen.