# 283 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 94. Discipline – a blessing?

The meaning of the Hebrew words translated as “blessing” or “blessed” in English can mean to praise, or bestow favour upon, or a state of happiness. These words are used 148 times in the OT, and 30 of these times are in the Psalms.  In the NT the two Greek words used with the same meaning occur at least 42 times. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes) being the most well-known (Matthew 5:1-12)

Sometimes though we may be surprised by the explanation of how we are blessed, and, as well as the Beatitudes, Psalm 94 is a good example:

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord.

Now there’s a bit of a surprise. Blessed by being disciplined!

This word has a number of meanings. For example:

“1. to punish or penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character. 2. to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control.                                           3. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the person mentally/physically or morally.”


At first glance, none of this seems to easily connect with the word “blessing”!

Paul, writing to believers in Hebrews 12 agrees. Encouraging them in all their troubles to not grow weary and lose heart (v. 3), he says:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. (v. 11)

Now, I guess we can all agree with that! Just ask any prospective Olympic swimmer at training at 5.30am in winter on their 20th lap of the pool.  

But Paul also quotes from Proverbs 3: 11 & 12, which says:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son [and daughter]
 (v. 5-6)

Thus, agreeing with the psalmist in Psalm 94 that to be disciplined by God is actually a blessing.

But Paul continues as he exhorts the Hebrew believers to:

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (v. 7-11)

And this is the reason that the psalmist says that we are blessed when God disciplines us. But, he adds more:

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
    the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
    till a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not reject his people;
    he will never forsake his inheritance.
15 Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
    and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Paul concludes:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees… 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (v. 12-15)

No Olympic swimmer will ever get to the Games without the discipline of years of swimming and other (sometimes) painful exercises. Discipline is a blessing and the only way to a gold medal. And the same is true for believers in Jesus – but the prize is far greater than a gold medal – it is, as Paul says, in order that we may share in his holiness… and it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.   

So, it’s true!

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
    the one you teach from your law.                Amen.

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