The writer of Proverbs often gets straight to the point, for example when he is comparing people who he calls “wise” with those he considers “fools”. One such proverb is:
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the backs of fools! (Proverbs 26:3)
Sounds pretty harsh, but I think we understand what he is getting at. If not, maybe Psalm 32 will help.
Psalm 32 also speaks of a similar topic in verse 8-10. Prior to this David had rejoiced in God’s forgiveness of his confessed sin, despite how slow he had been in acknowledging this sin, therefore resulting in detrimental effects all round. But then we read God’s incredibly gracious words (to help him not repeat his foolish ways):
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Maybe David thought he knew it all by the time he made his “shocking error of judgement” (see previous Post). That’s the temptation with power and position (just ask any politician, or celebrity or any leader!). It can go to our head and “infallible” may not be the word we use, but sometimes it seems we can feel that way, until we crash, as David did.
So, God’s graciously offers a better way, to be instructed, taught and counselled by Him, personally – very personally: with my loving eye on you! Then hopefully, history may not repeat itself and more disaster follow. He then says:
9 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.
Longman comments: “He warns them [and us] not to be undisciplined like a horse or a mule that will obey only if compelled by bit and bridle…[and referring to Proverbs 26:3 above]…such as fools; but the righteous wise freely and willingly submit themselves to God.” (# 30)
Kidner adds: “its call [is] for a teachable spirit…If forgiveness [from God] is good, fellowship [with God] is better.” (# 29)
And Scroggie: “Here [we have] a Promise of Guidance (8), and then, a Warning against Obstinancy (9)…Bit and bridle are not to keep the horse from us, but near us. In like manner, trials and trouble are not to keep us at a distance from God, but are designed to bring us near.” (# 40)
And so David concludes:
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
As Scroggie rephrases it: “The wicked have a hive of wasps around them, many sorrows; but we [those who have put their trust in God] have a swarm of bees storing honey for us.” (# 40)
If you find yourself fighting against God at the moment, then my suggestion is, stop! Reread this psalm and just say ‘yes” to God, whose unfailing love surrounds you and who knows what is best for you. Trust him. You will never regret it!
Paul suggests: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Father instruct me, teach me, counsel me. Help me not to think and act like a horse or a mule needing a bit and bridle, but to present myself to you, freely and willingly submitting myself to your will—your good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). Amen.