I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

The Comfort of Discipline

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You [are] with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4, NKJV

Many years ago a second cousin of mine sang ‘Daddy’s Hands’ to my great-grandfather at a family reunion. I’d never heard that song until that day, but after she sang it, the words stayed with me. Now, twenty-plus years later, I can still hear them—still sing them.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was crying.

Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.

Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle, but I’ve come to understand,

There was always love in Daddy’s hands. (Holly Dunn)

Walking through the valley doesn’t sound like fun, but the part that strikes me in this passage isn’t that dark place—it’s David’s source of comfort. God’s rod and staff. Instruments of discipline, but also instruments of protection.

This is such a powerful picture. Recently, my husband and I had to make a choice that affected our daughter. Her softball coach wanted to practice on Sunday afternoons. Now, we’re not legalists about the Sabbath, especially knowing that the Hebrew Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday, but there’s something sacred about that day. And when I sat down to really think about it, God’s command to take a Sabbath was, like so many of His other commands, a gift. Rest is a gift, not means of bondage.

God’s commands are like that rod and staff. Though often a source of discipline, they can be a means of protection, and as such, a source of comfort. And in either case, there’s always love in Daddy’s hands.