Daily D – Psalm 32:8-10
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. (NIV)
Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight: “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.” God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around. (MSG)
We can live in the abundance shaped by self-control, or we can live under the control of those who will exhaust our best strength.
Verses 8 and 10 in this well-known and much-loved psalm are the kinds of verses leading us back to Psalms with regularity. These verses are positive and affirming. They are as sweet as honey. They fortify. They edify. They put strength in our spines. They are wonderful memory verses.
Look more carefully at verse 9 for a moment. Right in the middle of all the sweetness is a little sourness. If verses 8 and 10 are all about DO, verse 9 is all about DO NOT. In fact, this is how the verse begins:
which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Growing up in Texas around horses and cows and pigs and such, this verse makes perfect sense. Some people have not enjoyed the perfect pleasure of growing up in Texas. They may have never ridden a horse except for a pony at the county fair, and the pony was harnessed together with other ponies all walking in a circle nicely and safely.
The truth is, most horses and mules are not that excited for you to place a bit in their mouths and a blanket and saddle on their backs. They will avoid this particular experience if they can. A person learns pretty quickly to approach a horse with the bridle behind her back and something yummy in her other hand to begin this process.
People often act like horses and mules. They are not very interested in God taking control of their actions. They do not want anyone to tell them which way they should go, how fast, and for how long. Bring on the sweet treats, but leave the harness behind, thank you.
In one of C. S. Lewis’s books, a lion chases the protagonist. The lead character is scared, terrified, at this turn of events. It turns out later the lion chased our hero because he would not otherwise move in the direction he should go.
If you do not want a lion to chase you in the direction you should go, go in the direction you should go of your own volition.
If you do not want a bridle, a blanket, a saddle, and someone kicking you in your sides, make it your ambition to go with God in the first place. And lay off the sweets!
We will have more verses 8 and 10 in our lives when we have less verse 9.
God’s message to us in verse 8 is, “I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye on you.” God offers knowledge, wisdom, guidance, counsel, and positive, focused attention.
God’s message to us in verse 10 is his unfailing love will surround us when we trust in him.
La Dolce Vita is found in verses 8 and 10. La Puke is found in verse 9.
I will live in God’s sweet spot for me.
Our Father, I want more of your knowledge and wisdom. I want more of your clear guidance. I want to know more of your unfailing love and presence day by day and moment by moment. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”