Psalm 23:4b - "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
I guess we mostly think about a rod or even a staff as being objects of punishment--especially the rod. However, in Biblical times, the rod had a variety of uses.
The rod had a number of uses, all of them beneficial to the sheep. It might be used to kill or frighten off a predator. Shepherds used it to count, holding it above the sheep's heads as their charges entered the sheepfold for the night. The rod also helped when checking for wounds and other problems hidden by the wool--the rod was used to separate the fibers enough so they could see the problem. And--when a sheep might venture too close to poisonous plants or other danger the rod could be thrown toward the sheep to startle it, at which point the sheep would run back to the herd.
The staff was used to pull a sheep to safety when it would get itself stuck. The crook at the end of the staff was designed especially to fit the sheep's neck just so. And in the spring when new lambs showed up, occasionally a ewe would reject its offspring. A shepherd would pick up and move the baby next to its mother with the staff so that the smell of human hands on the lamb would not spook the ewe.
Both the rod and the staff were used for guidance, protection, and authority. Amazingly like the Bible.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your rod and staff. Keep me from straying onto the wrong paths. Protect me from the ones who would take me from Your side. Provide the words I need to comfort and heal and guide. Thank You, Lord.