Category Archives: Psalms

No Bit or Bridle Required

Psalm 32:8–9 (ESV)
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 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.

I like horses. I like riding them and watching them out in the pasture. I just like being around them. But I haven’t always had the best experience with them and I’ll relate one story to help make my point.
I inherited my fondness for livestock from my maternal grandfather. As far back as I can remember he had at least one horse but the ones I remember best were his Appaloosas, Jewel and Dusty. I love the exotic patterns and colors of the Appaloosa so I decided to buy one. My grandfather offered to help me, but I felt I was smart enough to not need any help finding a horse so I searched on my own. I spotted an advertisement for an Appaloosa at a local farm and drove out to take a look at it. The horse that was for sale didn’t look much like an Appaloosa; it had classic buckskin coloring right down to the dark stockings on all four legs. It did, however, have one tiny dark spot on its rump. The guy who was selling it had some beautiful Appaloosas in his back pasture so I believed him when he said that the horse was still young and would “color up” as he got older. Did I mention that I wanted a colt instead of a well-seasoned, mature horse? Felling confident in my abilities as a horse trader, I bought the horse and brought him home.
When the horse was about 18 months old I decided it was time to find a trainer. A couple of people offered suggestions, but I felt I was smart enough to not need any help finding a trainer so I searched on my own. I visited one guy who seemed to know what he was doing and had successfully trained a couple of horses for a friend of mine (one being a wild mustang that she adopted through the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse Adoption Program) but I rejected him because he exposed my limited knowledge about horses. I chose another trainer instead, who kept my horse for over six months and basically did nothing but take my money. Did I mention that the horse, now almost two years old, still had not “colored up?” After throwing away several hundred dollars a month for six months I decided it was time to cut my losses and bring the horse home. By now I felt I was smart enough to not need any help training the horse. I would just buy a book and do it on my own.
To make a long story short, I kept the horse for several years because I liked looking at him in the pasture. I didn’t ride him much because my training efforts were less than successful. I finally sold the horse to a man who had some experience and felt he could do something with him.
That experience taught me a lot about horses – and myself. Did I mention that I have never owned another horse and have a real nice, very unused saddle for sale?
I learned that horses are complex creatures that require a lot of skill and attention to handle properly. I also learned that horses do not appear on this earth ready to ride and it takes more than reading a book to successfully train one. It takes a lot of time, patience, effort and experience working beside someone who already knows what he’s doing. I learned that the reason horses need to be trained is because they don’t know and don’t care what it is that you want them to do. And when you try to teach they naturally rebel.
I also learned that I’m not much different from that horse. I had people all along the way who were willing to help me and give me advice but I rebelled against their advice because I took it as an insult to my miniscule knowledge and experience.
This passage is such a perfect picture of the stubborn heart wanting to go its own way. We can certainly count on God to lead us correctly because he not only knows the future, he makes it. Doesn’t it seem logical to let him guide us in the right direction rather than thinking we can do better ourselves?

Father, thank you for being willing to guide me in the way I should go. Help me to be willing to follow.

Rest Assured

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:17–19, NASB95)

Rest assured. I like that phrase. Let’s dissect it and I think you’ll see why.
First of all, let’s examine the word rest. It conjures up images of stillness, sleep, respite and relaxation. Think of a time when you rested. Maybe it was at the end of a long, hard day; or after a particularly difficult and energy sapping activity. Resting reminds me of lazy Sunday afternoons not doing much of anything but recharging my batteries and getting ready for the week ahead. Resting is being comfortable and replenishing one’s energy.
The next word in that phrase is assured. Some synonyms for assured are guaranteed, certain, secure, positive and indisputable. In other words, when we are assured of something, we know it’s going to happen.
So let’s weave those two words together into a rope that we can hang on to when the hard times come.
The first thing we have to realize is that even God’s children are going to experience trouble in their lives. It’s not always the result of sin, although it certainly can be, for our Heavenly Father will allow trouble into our lives as a form of discipline. So if you know of something going on in your life that is causing a rift between you and the Lord, the very first item of business is to confess the wrongdoing and get the issue cleared up. If you don’t know of anything, then ask the Lord to reveal any unknown faults that may be the cause of your trouble. King David had a formula for asking God to take inventory of his heart: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NASB95) Since the Lord wants to have unhindered fellowship with us, he’ll answer quickly and decisively so you can take care of the problem.
But what if we have no known sin in our lives and the Lord does not reveal to us any unknown sin? What do we do when the way is blocked by pain and hardship and the burden is so heavy it seems impossible to take even one more step? First, we can rejoice that the reason for our hardship is not disciplinary, then we can turn our attention to the matter at hand.
It’s time to rest.
A broken heart makes you feel like dying. Like there is nothing more to live for. The pain and betrayal are more than anyone should possibly have to bear and life as you knew it is over.
It’s time to rest.
A crushed spirit leaves you weary and depressed. Discouragement sets in and you are struggling through a dense fog of despair.
It’s time to rest.
But how can we rest when things are so bad? When the way looks hopeless and there is no end in sight? How can we rest in the turmoil of trouble?
You can rest because you’re assured.
You can rest because you’re assured that the Lord hears your cries for help. So cry out and rest.
You can rest because you’re assured that he feels your broken heart. So draw close to him and rest.
You can rest because you’re assured that he will deliver you from your despair. So reach up to him and rest.
Two small words big enough to conquer any doubt, fear or burden.
Bad times will come, we know that without a doubt. But we can rest, assured that the Lord will deliver us.