I know, O Lord, that your regulations are fair; you disciplined me because I needed it.
I didn’t enjoy receiving discipline as a child, giving it as a parent, or administering it as a teacher, but it had to be done. My parents were strict disciplinarians. My father thought about what disciplinary methods would work best. My mother often disciplined out of anger.
When I became a parent, I didn’t enjoy disciplining my children, but it was necessary if I expected them to stay on track. Like me, they had a sinful bent. I tried various techniques, some identical to the ones my parents had used on me. Some worked; others didn’t. I’ve also found discipline necessary as a middle-school teacher. Many of my students have that same tendency to buck the rules.
The writer of Psalm 119 knew God’s regulations were fair, but he had a tendency to stray from them. When God sent discipline, the psalmist knew he needed it.
I was born with sinful tendencies. Everyone else is too. These tendencies make me want to test the limits. I tested them as a child and as a teenager. Discipline always followed when I was caught in the wrong. I’ve also pushed against boundaries as an adult.
I’ve tested God’s limitations too. Had I written the rules, I may have added or subtracted a few. But I didn’t. God did. I know His rules are fair, and He gives them so I can truly enjoy life. My parents continually reminded me that they knew what was best for me—although I doubted it at the time.
God reminds me of the same. He knows what it will take for me to experience a full and fruitful life, and He established the rules accordingly. When I break them, He disciplines me. I may not like it, but deep down inside I know His discipline is for my good, as are His boundaries. If I respond by learning my lesson, life will be more pleasurable.
Remember, God sends discipline into our lives because He loves us and desires what’s best for us.
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by Martin Wiles
Martin Wiles is a minister, author, and freelance editor currently living in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is the author of six books, including his two latest, Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He has been published in a number of periodicals, books, and newspapers. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.