Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble (Psalm 95:12, 13a NIV).
No one of us likes to be disciplined. We often associate discipline with a cruel master who comes after us with a stick to punish us. In fact most of us have bad memories of being disciplined with physical punishment at home and at school. So we naturally do not like the word “discipline.”
But when the Bible says that the man God disciplines is “blessed,” we will have to take a deeper look at it. God’s discipline is for our good. It is meant to build us up and not to destroy us. Sometimes it involves punishment. But the end or the goal of it is goodness of the LORD.
One sure fact about God’s discipline is to enable us to appreciate the Scriptures better. It is during God’s time of discipline that we dig deeper into God’s Word and try to find encouragement and comfort from it. It is from the Bible that during such times we find the courage to move on, to endure patiently and be thankful for the little little blessings that God give us. In short, we learn truths of the Bible best when we are in trouble.
Another important aspect of God’s discipline is that God knows for long the difficulties and troubles in our life are meant to last to get the best out of us.Though we do not like passing through a furnace made seven times hotter, we can trust the truth that God will not extend the period of trial beyond what is necessary for our highest good.
Prophet Isaiah points out that God matches the instrument to the task at hand and he won’t use a big instrument where a small instrument is enough (Isaiah 28:27). Earlier he pointed out that no farmer goes on ploughing for ever; likewise God knows when to stop the process of disciplining and start the process of rebuilding, restoring, reviving and refreshing.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when you are severely tested is not to neglect God’s Word. There will be times when you will wonder why you should continue to read God’s Word when there seems to be no end to the trials and troubles you are passing through. That thought comes to the best of godly men and women. But those who are “blessed” are those who show a willingness to learn from God’s Word even when their circumstances are so negative.
One such lady was Corrie ten Boom who hid the Bible along with her one dress she was permitted to wear inside the Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. There are several others who in similar prison conditions survived and came out by feeding on God’s Word.
One final thought is that we should not allow bitterness to grow in our hearts when God delays answers to our prayers. When our cries seem to go unheard; know that it is the disciplining hand of God. Sometimes as we continue to seek God’s face, he will show us the cause of the difficulty that we are passing through.
At other times he is waiting for the circumstances to be ordered in such a way as to give us the best promotion possible as it happened in the case of Joseph. It was the word of the LORD that sustained him too (Psalm 105:19) during the trials and delays he was passing through.
The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 119, possibly Ezra who loved the Scriptures and was well-versed in it and taught it to the Israelites, rightly said: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word . . . It was good for me to be afflicted so that I may learn your decrees” (v. 67 and 71 NIV). Therefore the discipline of God and love for God’s Word and obedience to it go hand in hand.
Above all, God disciplines us through painful processes so that we may share in his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). There is the love of a heavenly Father expressed in God’s discipline and it is directed towards our good. The process is painful; but the end result is peace.