Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psalm 32:8 - God's Training Program

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Although the text does not indicate who is speaking, it seems that this is God's answer to David. Note the three verbs: INSTRUCT, TEACH, COUNSEL

Instruct - Heb. SAKAL – to make wise, intelligent, skillful; to give insight, understanding. The word is used in Genesis 3:6, where the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was “desirable for gaining [SAKAL].” It “never concerns abstract prudence, but acting prudently.” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, OT, “To Understand”)
Teach - Heb. YARAH – to shoot or throw; to point; to teach
Counsel - Heb. YA'ATS – to advise, counsel

All three words are stated in the imperfect mood, indicating there is a process at work. In response to our repentance, God forgives, He protects - and He puts us in His training program for godliness. He knows we need to change, but He does not expect this to happen apart from His own direct involvement. He teaches us with His eye upon us. He is not placing us under scrutiny with some sort of probation. He is watching over us to guarantee the effectiveness of our training.

Why does God teach us in this way? Did we sin for lack of teaching? Was it for want of information? Do we simply need to know more theology? Is “education” the answer to our sin problem? Certainly it is a lack of wisdom that led us into our sins, but it is not primarily for our education that God places us in His training program. Nor is it about “behavior modification.” Rather, this is our opportunity to know Him better. Developing an intimate and dependent relationship with Christ is the great remedy for our sinful ways. The more closely we walk with God, the less we practice sin. The more we incline our ear to His Words, the less we pay heed to the voices of temptation. The more we gaze into His burning eyes of grace, the less we are drawn by this world's glitter. It is not a matter of learning more facts – it's a matter of learning Christ.

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

The Holy Spirit is the divine Counselor Who helps us learn Christ. We desperately need His help. There is no other way to change. Consider the glorious promise in these words: “Walk by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT CARRY OUT the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). No wonder David cried out in Psalm 51, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me!” Speaking of this sin-conquering Counselor who dwells in us, Jesus said

John 16:14-15 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

"The mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit is that such a life is continually and ever more and more occupied with Christ, that Christ is becoming greater and greater as time goes on. The effect of the Holy Spirit's work in us is to bring us to the shore of a mighty ocean which reaches far, far beyond our range, and concerning which we feel - oh, the depths, the fullness, of Christ! If we live as long as ever man lived, we shall still be only on the fringe of this vast fullness that Christ is. Now, that at once becomes a challenge to us before we go any further. These are not just words. This is not just rhetoric; this is truth. Let us ask our hearts at once, Is this true in our case? Is this the kind of life that we know? Are we coming to despair on this matter? That is to say, that we are glimpsing so much as signified by Christ that we know we are beaten, that we are out of our depth, and will never range all this. It is beyond us, far beyond us, and yet we are drawn on and ever on. Is that true in your experience? That is the mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit. Christ becomes greater and greater as we go on. If that is true, well, that is the way of life. If ever you and I should come to a place where we think we know, we have it all, we have attained, and from that point things become static, we may take it that the Holy Spirit has ceased operations and that life has become stultified. . . . So God, right at the beginning, brings Christ forth, presents Him, attests Him, and in effect says, This is that to which I will conform you, to this image!" (T. Austin-Sparks, The School of Christ)

More of the Spirit's teaching is found in the next verse of Psalm 32 . . .

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