Quit Horsing Around

| Wed, Oct 2, 2013 | Set 3 Week 40

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I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.— Psalm 32:8–9

When we feel confused about what we should do—when the complexities of life overwhelm and bewilder us—the Lord himself promises to guide his own. We have but One Instructor as Jesus says in Matthew 23:10. And we have but One Teacher as Jesus says in Matthew 23:8.

What qualifies God to be the One who teaches us the path for life and godliness? Why must we trust in him and not lean on our own understanding? Elsewhere, David responds to this question by saying, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way” (Psalm 25:8). We, on the other hand, are sinful (Psalm 32:5) and have the capacity to deceive even our own selves (1 John 1:8).

Therefore, we need the righteous, watchful gaze of God fixed on us. He counsels us with his caring eye upon us (v. 8). And what counsel does he give us in this psalm? Confess your sin (vv. 1, 5)! Put away deceit (v. 2)! Pray to me while you can (v. 6)! Trust in me (v. 10)! Be glad, rejoice, and shout for joy—in other words, don’t just pursue your delight, express your delight (v. 11)!

Since God himself promises to teach, instruct, and counsel us, we must not refuse him in our stubborn hearts and thus go our own ways. Horses and mules that must be forced to walk on the path do not please their masters as much as those that trust and follow them. To prefer your own will over God’s is senseless reasoning.

Finally, I would like to connect this passage with the New Testament to show more specifically how we must pursue self-control. The apostle James calls Christians to a perfection where they do not stumble in what they say and who therefore are able to tame their entire bodies (James 3:2). Then he compares such self-control to taming animals, just as David does. “If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well” (v. 3). And since no man is able to control his own tongue (v. 8), we must, as the psalmist says, look to the Lord for both the wisdom and the ability to do what we ought.

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