Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law. – Psalm 94:12 (ESV)
I always had a grasp that my parents “thought” I had done some wrong and understood that there was a payment for what I had done wrong. And I guess that’s the point. I understood the discipline – the spanking or the loss of privileges – as the payment. I never understood very well that the discipline was to teach me. My parents were trying to teach me the way to behave. Whether it was a matter of respecting others or their property, reminding me to obey rules, or some such other matter, their purpose was to teach me.
Funny thing is, my parents never came right out and told me that they were disciplining me because of a teaching matter. In reality, I’m sure they were often quite mad at me and I’m sure they let their emotions dictate the punishment. So how do I know they were “teaching” me? Well, because they loved me.
In hindsight, as a guy in his mid 40s, there is no question in my mind that my parents loved me. I can remember the times they told me they loved me, but I can also look back and see the things they did. They worked hard for my sister and me. They – on purpose and otherwise – taught us so many things. I can look back and know that they loved me and that they wanted the best for me. From that lens, I can fully understand that their discipline was to teach me and not just to exercise their wrath.
The same is true in the purest sense related to God. I know that He has called me to follow Him and therefore know that He loves me. (Hey, the Bible tells me so!) As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ has paid for our sins. Therefore, by definition, if Jesus is paying for our sins, then we can’t. But if we aren’t followers of Christ, we also should know that we will pay for our sins for all of eternity.
Because God is our loving Heavenly Father, we can also rest assured that He wants to keep us from hurting ourselves, from hurting others and from sinning against Him (who is a holy God). So it makes sense that God’s discipline would be to teach us. His discipline is to train us. Now, we should also remember that discipline isn’t necessarily easy and that just because we are loved by God it doesn’t mean we escape the earthly consequences of sin. Nope, that’s not the case. Training is often hard and the consequences of life are hard.
But, when we view God’s discipline as the psalmist here does, we can see that, “Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord.”