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Swinging the Staff

28-09-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

Yesterday, at a funeral-service, I was privileged to speak about Psalm 23:4.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

The club (rod) and the staff in the hand of a powerful shepherd, in life threatening circumstances, will put a defenseless sheep at ‘perfect peace’. However, in Biblical symbolism, a staff signifies much more. In all kinds of ways do we see this pictured in the Bible:

  • The staff that produced the almond blossoms (Num. 17:8
  • The staff that changed into a living snake (Ex.7:8)
  • The staff, that in the battle against Amalek, gave the victory (Ex.17:9)
  • The staff that brought water forth out of the rock (Num.20:8)
  • The staff in the honey that enlightened the eyes of Jonathan (1Sam.14:27)
  • The staff wherewith Jacob, on his way to the promised land, waded through the Jordan River (Gen 32:10).
  • The staff on which Jacob leaned when he spoke about Israel’s future (Heb.11:21)

staff and rulership The staff is also an emblem of rulership, regardless, whether it concerns the staff of a shepherd or the staff (scepter) of a king. Even in our daily language is the staff another word for control or leadership (>the staff of an organization). Also consider the ‘swinging of a staff’ (> giving direction). Perhaps it is incorrect to say so, but the staff is a male symbol. Another word for staff is rod, and is, already from olden times, a reference to the masculine gender. And immediately this causes us to think of: resurrection (up-standing) and the engendering of new life (>erection signifies [up]rising). Remarkable in this connection is also the fact that Jacob spoke about the scepter which would not depart from Judah “nor a statue-maker’s staff from between his feet” (Gen.49:10). The way it is expressed is an allusion to the staff as a male symbol. Whoever possesses the staff, rules the world. That is also the idea in popular belief behind the magic wand. With the wand (staff) things are created that lie beyond the competency of man. From whichever way we consider the staff, again and again, it points to HIM Who will be in the lead, will RULE the world and will create new LIFE, stronger than death! ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema