In elementary school, I was very fortunate to join several of my friends for "Release Time" on Wednesday mornings. Release Time was a designated hour every week that allowed for kids to be released from school for "religious" activities. (I very rarely use that word without quotations...more on that later.) It was during this hour that several kids in my group learned to memorize Psalm 23. We had these cool orange pocket Bibles that we read from and to this day, I still have the Psalm memorized (complete with all of the thy's and thou's found in the KJV.)
I recently stumbled across the Psalm again in my Bible reading and was struck by the phrase, "your rod and your staff, they comfort me." This had always bothered me, even in 5th grade when it was "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Growing up, "the rod" was a method of discipline I had come to dread. Why, then, did David find comfort in it?
That is when I was reminded of an older post and what Christ has been showing me in regards to his discipline. Hebrews 12 so beautifully illustrates some powerful truths.
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." (vs. 10)
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. " (vs. 11)
Discipline produces holiness, righteousness, and peace. Not only that, but it validates our relationship with God. (Because, "If you are not disciplined, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons." vs. 8) This is why both David and the writer of Hebrews urge us to take comfort in the rod of God's discipline. It is why the Bible repeatedly tells us to rejoice in suffering and persecution. It means that the Spirit is at work in us in order that Christ might become greater and we might become less. (John 3:30.)
Because of these truths, we should count ourselves both blessed and priviledged to be disciplined by Christ. It ultimately produces fruit in us and glorifies the only one to whom glory is due. We are drawn closer to Jesus as a result, and we can take comfort in His rod because it leads us to take comfort in him.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)