# 204 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 60 Discipline – an old-fashioned concept?

Although I’m positive this is not true of all schools, but according to a recent report in the Australian newspaper:  

Australian classrooms are among the most undisciplined in the world…exposing widespread noise, disorder and student disobedience…[it ranked] Australia 69th out of 76 countries on an index of school disciplinary climates [where 76 is the worst!].

 UNSW Sydney assessment expert Jihyun Lee says: “Simply put, if students don’t listen to what the teacher says, if there is noise and disorder in a learning space, and if a teacher has to wait for a long time for students to quiet down, how can we expect students to learn effectively in school?”                                                          https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/classrooms-fail-discipline-test/news-story/691f12556ccbddebc689cc33f9b7a3bf

Discipline is defined both as:     

the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience…and…

Discipline is the quality of being able to behave and work in a controlled way which involves obeying particular rules or standards.”

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/discipline

Generally speaking, we humans do not enjoy being disciplined, although a few see the value and respond positively. The Bible has a quite a bit to say about discipline and a good place to begin is our psalm for today – Psalm 60, Although the word is not mentioned, it is rather the principle that is being taught in real life.

The background to this psalm seems to be a time in the life of King David when keeping his nation free from enemy attack was proving quite a challenge. In fact, Wilcock suggests that “while the Lord ‘gave David victory wherever he went’ [2 Samuel 8:6,14] he did not always give him his approval. Psalm 60 implies an Edomite invasion which was a real threat, and a punishment, perhaps for a war God had not sanctioned.” (# 5)

Note the words of David:

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry
—now restore us!
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
    mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
    you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
    to be unfurled against the bow.

Wilcock continues:

“It may be Edom which has attacked us, says David, but it is God who has rejected us, broken our defences (NRSV), shaken the land, and so on. In fact, seven verbs in quick succession all point back to him as the first cause of these woes. They describe an experience which is traumatic and destructive. Can a loving God be responsible for such things? Yes, he can, in the sense that ‘no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful’. Discipline is what this is, designed of course to produce ‘a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it: a sharp lesson with a positive purpose.” (# 5)

The verse Wilcock has quoted above comes from the Letter to the Hebrews chapter 12 in the NT. Below is this very important truth according to the Passion Translation:

have you forgotten [God’s] encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t underestimate the value
    of the discipline and training of the Lord God,
    or get depressed when he has to correct you.
For the Lord’s training of your life
    is the evidence of his faithful love.
    And when he draws you to himself,
    it proves you are his delightful child.”   
[a quote from Proverbs 3:11-12]  

Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship. For if we have never once endured his correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons.

And isn’t it true that we respect our earthly fathers even though they corrected and disciplined us? Then we should demonstrate an even greater respect for God, our spiritual Father, as we submit to his life-giving discipline10 Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness.

And then the words quoted by Wilcock:

 11 Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.    (Hebrews 12)

Let me finish off with Wilcock’s conclusion:

“This is a bigger God than many people are disposed to believe in, but by the same token a God worth praying to [as David did]. If he set up the whole Edomite operation, he can close it down when it has achieved its aim.” (# 5)

Thank you, Father, that you correct us in our lives for our own good, giving us the invitation to share in your holiness, thus validating that we are your children. Amen.

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