8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 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. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
This week, as I prepared for my Tuesday Bible Study class, I came across this portion of scripture. We are studying the book, How to Know God's Will by Charles Shepson. (Which is a great book.) In the first section, the author discusses the issue of our wanting to know God's will and if He wants to reveal it to us. Psalm 32:8 states that, of course, the Lord desires to reveal His will to us. It is up to us to be receptive to Him and His instruction.
Verse 9 really stuck out to me as I read this, so I did some study of the role of the bit and bridle in horse training. First I confirmed what I already knew. The horse ins controlled by the bit when it is placed in its mouth to apply pressure to turn the head of the horse to point it in the direction the rider wishes to go. The idea is to only apply pressure, not pain, to the horse's mouth. If the horse will not respond to pressure though the bit is pulled harder, to the point of pain, to get the horse's attention.
This method of training seemed to correlate to methods the Lord has used in my life at times. There is pressure to go the way of His instruction. Just a gentle push at first and if I do not heed, the pressure increases until the pain is such that I relent to go the direction I have been resisting. But this verse reveals there is a better way! Praise the Lord!
|Note the lack of bit or bridle!|
In my study of the bit and bridle I also found a forum discussion of riding without bit or bridle. It is possible with horses and I feel it is possible with us too. The horse must learn to "hear" the communication of the rider. Maybe that is a gentle nudge in the ribs, or the way the rider leans his body or stands in the saddle. The key is that the horse is very aware of the riders instruction and trusts the rider enough to do whatever he says, even if the horse doesn't want to. In the same way, we must trust the Lord and listen closely to His instruction in order to be lead in a more gentle manner. I pray that I might be able to hear and respond in such a way that He need not use pressure and pain to achieve His purposes in me, only the gentle nudge.