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  • Jill Henry

Don’t Be Like a Mule (Psalm 32:8 [9])

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. [⁹Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.] —Psalm 32:8 [9]

Before I sit down to write about a passage for Fighter Verses, I stop and ask God to help me with what direction I should go. I’ll have some ideas floating in my head, but I want to hear from the Lord; I want to be sure I’m heading in the right direction. How fitting, therefore, that the verses I was assigned this time are Psalm 32:8-9.

I am very aware that I cannot make it through life without the help of the Lord. Well, I’m aware of my need of Him most of the time. I am so grateful that as children of God, we have the Holy Spirit residing in us to help lead, guide, and protect us. The Holy Spirit works on our behalf when we don’t even ask. It’s humbling and wonderful—a gracious gift from our loving Father. God wants us to stop and seek Him. Verse 8 is a promise from God that He will instruct and counsel us, He will teach us and guide us, He is watching over us.

Immediately following this wonderful promise from the Lord, He gives us a necessary warning in verse 9, “Be not like a horse or mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” Are you wondering what this warning and imagery mean? I believe this is a caution against self-sufficiency and things of this world that become idols in our lives, distracting us from being dependent on the Lord and seeking Him.

As much as I want to think that I stop, pray, and seek the Lord for His help and guidance in all things, the Holy Spirit recently opened my eyes to my self-sufficiency. In the midst of a difficult situation, I was distracted by the difficulty of the situation itself, and trusting in my own knowledge, even turning to the wisdom of man versus seeking the Lord for His wisdom, counsel, and direction. I took my eyes off Jesus and became like a mule without understanding, leaving me wide open for spiritual attack and temptation from the enemy. Kathy Keller warned in her message on Psalm 32:9 that, “…we can be busy in God’s work yet not be close to God—especially if you’re gifted! We must be fueled by grace, not our gifts, talents or education. Gifts and education will not help you in times of need and temptations—they will betray you!”

We must be fueled by grace. I love that! Where does that grace come from? Grace is a gift from the Lord. We receive that gift as we seek the Lord, running to Him with hearts of desperation, adoration, and worship, because He is our sovereign, all-knowing, and loving Heavenly Father. It doesn’t matter how big or small your problems, situations, or decisions may be, the Lord has given His promise that He “will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” We need humble ourselves, seek the Lord, and ask Him to guide us in the way we should go.


For Reflection

  1. When you’re facing a decision or a difficult situation, do you find yourself running to God for His help and counsel or do you try to handle things in your own strength and understanding?

  2. What areas do your giftings, talents, or knowledge cause you to become self-sufficient?

  3. Is there anything in your life that would benefit from humbling yourself and seeking the Lord for His grace and His guidance?


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