A Father’s Rod Of Discipline

There is often a severity, a grievousness in the chastisements of our covenant God, which it is important and essential for the end for which they were sent, not to overlook. He who sent the chastisement appointed its character– He intended that it should be felt. There is as much danger in underrating as in overrating the chastisements of God. It is not uncommon to hear some of God’s saints remark, in the very midst of His dealings with them, “I feel it to be no cross at all; I do not feel it an affliction; I am not conscious of any peculiar burden.”

Is it not painful to hear such expressions from the lips of a dear child of God? It betrays a lack, so to speak, of spiritual sensitiveness; a deficiency of that tender, acute feeling which ought ever to belong to him who professes to have reposed on Jesus’ bosom. Now we solemnly believe that it is the Lord’s holy will that His child should feel the chastisement to be grievous; that the smartings of the rod should be felt. Moses, Jacob, Job, David, Paul, all were made to exclaim, “The Lord has sorely chastened me.”

When it is remembered that our chastisements often grow out of our sin; that to subdue some strong indwelling corruption, or to correct for some outward departure, the rod is sent; this should ever humble the soul; this should ever cause the rebuke to be rightly viewed; that were it not for some strong indwelling corruption, or some step taken in departure from God, the affliction would have been withheld; oh how should every stroke of the rod lay the soul in the dust before God! “If God had not seen sin in my heart, and sin in my outward conduct, He would not have dealt thus heavily with me.” And where the grievousness of the chastisement is not felt, is there not reason to suspect that the cause of the chastisement has not been discovered and mourned over?

There is the consideration, too, that the stroke comes from the Father who loves us; loves us so well, that if the chastisement were not needed, there would not be a feather’s weight laid on the heart of his child. Dear to Him as the apple of His eye, would He inflict those strokes, if there were not an absolute necessity for them? “What! Is it the Father who loves me that now afflicts me? Does this stroke come from His heart? What! Does my Father see all this necessity for this grievous chastening? Does He discover in me so much evil, so much perverseness, so much that He hates and that grieves Him, that this severe discipline is sent?” Oh how does this thought, that the chastisement proceeds from the Father who loves him, impart a keenness to the stroke!

And then there is often something in the very nature of the chastisement itself that causes its grievousness to be felt. The wound may be in the tenderest part; the rebuke may come through some idol of the heart; God may convert some of our choicest blessings into sources of the keenest sorrow. How often does He, in the wisdom and sovereignty of His dealings, adopt this method! Abraham’s most valued blessing became the cause of his acutest sorrow. The chastisement may come through the beloved Isaac. The very mercy we clasp to our warm hearts so fondly may be God’s voice to us, speaking in the tone of severe yet tender rebuke. Samuel, dear to the heart of Eli, was God’s solemn voice to His erring yet beloved servant.

Let no afflicted believer, then, think lightly of his chastisements– it is the Lord’s will that he should feel them. They were sent for this purpose. If I did not feel the cross, if I was not conscious of the burden, if the wound were not painful, I should never take it to the mercy-seat, there to seek all needed grace, support, and strength. The burden must first be felt, before it is cast upon the Lord; the chastisement must be felt to be grievous, before the tenderness and sympathy of Jesus will be sought.

There is equal danger of overrating our afflictions. When they are allowed too deeply to absorb us in grief; when they unfit us for duty; keep us from walking in the path God has marked out for us; hold us back from prayer and from the means of grace; when they lead us to think harshly and speak severely of God; then we overrate God’s chastisements, and prevent the good they were so kindly sent to convey.

Thy Rod & Thy Staff : The Rod Of Restraint (6 of 7)

Nor must we overlook the restraining use of Christ’s Rod and Staff. The restraints of Christ’s grace are not less conspicuous in the believer’s experience than the constraints of His love. There is a strong tendency in us to go before the Lord, rather than follow His leading hand. We desire to anticipate His will and antedate His way concerning us, rather than in quietness and confidence wait the movement of His guiding rod.

Peter- impulsive and self-reliant, went before the Lord when He asked Jesus to bid him come to Him upon the water. The consequence was, he began to sink; and but for the hand of Christ, the proud waves had whelmed him in their depths. Impetuous and distrustful, we would dictate to God the way by which He should lead, and the means by which He should deliver, and the lessons by which He should instruct, and the discipline by which He should sanctify us. But Jesus, consulting our greatest good, orders otherwise. “When He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them.”

Oh blessed restraints of Christ! Restraining our rebellious will- our impetuous spirit- our blind zeal- and our erring judgment- Christ interposes His “rod and His staff,” and in a thousand instances keeps us from falling. Significant words of God to David- “I kept you from sinning against Me”! Among your costliest mercies, count the restraints and checks of Christ’s “rod and staff.” We shall never fully know, until we arrive in heaven, in how many instances and ways we were kept by God- from how many a precipice, and from how many a broken bone, and from how many a fatal mistake, the Lord went before to preserve us.

We rebelled, perhaps, at the interference of the “rod”- we murmured at the checks of the “staff”- we felt the sickness sore- the suffering acute- the disappointment bitter- nevertheless, when the mist and the cloud uplifted, revealing the imminent peril to which we had been exposed, we then saw clearly the wisdom and mercy of our God in imposing those divine and salutary restraints, but for which we should blindly and inevitably have wrecked all that was precious to us in this life, and glorious in the life that is to come.

Thy Rod & Thy Staff: Protection For The Flock (5 of 7)

The shepherd’s “Rod” is for protection. It is a weapon of defense with which the flock are shielded from the prowling beasts of prey. There is not a moment that danger is not near, and not a moment that Christ’s Rod is not outstretched in our defense. There is not a being in the vast universe more exposed to assault, nor yet one more divinely and safely kept, than a saint of God. Loved with a love that passes knowledge- redeemed with the precious blood of the Shepherd- and made a temple of God through the Spirit, is it possible that he can ever perish?

Listen to the Shepherd’s declaration of this truth- “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Take comfort from this, O my soul! You do often tremble at the prowling beasts of prey, causing the forest to shake with their roar- yet more do you dread the veiled and subtle foe- the sin that dwells in you- ever present, never slumbering, treacherous and strong, and therefore the more dangerous and dreaded, often extorting the cry, “I shall one day perish by my enemy!” Do not be dismayed! Every sheep and lamb of the flock is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; and shall be delivered from the mouth of the lion, the paw of the bear, and the fangs of the serpent.