Even 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
Even though David couldn’t see or hear the Lord, David said, “You are with me.” The Lord’s presence can’t be perceived by the five senses. Only faith enables us to know that he’s there. Faith convinces us that the Lord is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. In what way is god near? He is near to us through his Word.
When David said, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” it’s as if he wanted to say; “Nothing else on earth can help me through my worries and troubles. God’s Word alone is my rod and staff. I will hang on to it and use it to pull myself up again. I will be certain that the Lord is with me and that he gives me courage in all anxieties and troubles. He defies the devil and the world and rescues me from my enemies.”
With the words “your rod and your staff,” David was referring to the image of a shepherd with his sheep. He wanted to say, “A shepherd guides his sheep with his rod and staff and leads them to graze in the meadow and drink from fresh water. He also uses his staff to protect them from all dangers. This is the way the Lord, the true Shepherd, leads and guides me with his staff. In other words, he leads me with his true Word. Then I can walk with him on the right path in firm faith and with a clear conscience. I can also protect myself from false doctrine and false piety. In addition, the Lord protects me from all spiritual and physical dangers and uses his staff to rescue me from all my enemies. God’s Word so richly strengthens and comforts me that no spiritual or physical trial is too much to endure and overcome.”
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.