Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, . . . your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you . . . and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
[And the Lord replied] I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 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. (Ps. 32: 1-5,8-9)
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” God’s word to David following his repentance of the sin with Bathsheba is His word to each one of His children. And what an encouraging word! What a beautiful promise! God Himself will lead and teach me; God Himself will show me how I can not just cope, but grow and flourish in every situation, because He loves me and watches over me with an unfailing and everlasting commitment.
This beautiful promise comes with a stiff warning. David has learned the hard way that stubbornly refusing to call sin what it is and confess it to God is a destructive decision. God is warning him — and us — that this mulish desire to gloss over or deny sin will keep lurking and ready to spring. Like the seeds of a beautiful flower, this promise will only bloom in receptive soil conditions.
“I will instruct you” — but you must be willing and eager to be instructed. “I will teach you” — if you are willing to give up your preconceived ideas and conclusions about what I should do or how situations should be resolved. “I will counsel you” — if you will listen instead of telling me what you want to happen.
Being open to God’s counsel will sometimes, perhaps often, mean doing the opposite of what you think or feel should happen. It means trusting God because He is not a disinterested third party, but the One who loves us and whose purpose is to shape us for His kingdom.
We may come to God wanting Him to change someone else, but it’s us He wants to work on. Until we understand the reality that His ways are higher than our ways, then like the mule, we risk continuing to be hurt by the bit that bites us, and jerked around by the bridle that leaves us at the mercy of people and situations. We can take a long time to learn that life here isn’t about getting what we want. It’s about wanting God’s will for us, which is to make us more and more like Jesus.
This is a beautiful promise. Beautiful, powerful and life-changing things happen when we can whole-heartedly say, “Yes, Lord; instruct me, teach me, counsel me. I want to follow, learn and be healed under Your loving eye.”