Last Sunday we discussed repentance, what it looks like and what we can expect from God when we repent of our sins. One of the primary passages was Psalm 32. The Psalmist recorded that he was attempting to run away from his sin, but God’s heavy hand on him led him to repent. How often do we wait for God’s heavy hand? How often do put off repentance until it hurts? We need to learn to be a people who repent immediately, as a first response rather than a reaction to a “heavy handed” situation.

Another part of Psalm 32 stuck out to me and I wish I had more time to discuss it with you. Look at verses 8-10:

“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. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.”

Here’s something we can also recognize: God wants us near Him! Notice that repentance gives God the opportunity to counsel and instruct our way. His eye is watching and guiding because we’ve responded to His heavy hand. But also notice that when we behave stubbornly like a horse or mule, the bit and bridle get inserted. The goal is to accomplish nearness. The experience through those times will be sorrow because we’ve chosen not to listen to God. But God’s steadfast love, His faithfulness and goodness, is what we experience when we trust that His way is better than the way we try and independently make for ourselves. God does not stop His desire for nearness, but situations can get difficult when we stubbornly choose our own way instead of His.

There is a decision to be made before we make choices against God’s way. We can choose to trust that His way is better or trust our feelings to guide us. Eventually, we will have to face the truth of our choice. For those of us who admit to having made plenty of mistakes, hopefully we have learned that God’s way is much better than any attempt at independence from Him. Pursuers of God will agree that we have all experienced the bit and bridle from time to time, or still are because of our continued stubbornness. As “unfun” as those times can be, I think God is trying to get our attention. He wants to reestablish nearness. Surrendering to His will provides the pathway to our heart’s desire for true and lasting satisfaction: God’s love and nearness. Let us purpose to operate through joy in God, rejoicing in Him and His way rather than submit to the momentary deceptive pleasure of sin.

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

~ Psalm 32:11