Psalm 51:8-11 (NKJV) 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
In our last post, we looked at one of the most important aspects of knowing God as Father (John 17:3.) Paul said in Romans 8:15 that our spirits cry out to God, “Abba, Father.” Abba is akin to our term daddy. We all want God to be Daddy but he cannot be Daddy unless we receive him as Father. Daddy blesses but to be father requires discipline as well. God is both to us. He will chasten us because he loves us.
Chastening can involve punishment. However, God does not punish as we would punish. He is a perfect father. We are not. His motivation is always and only our good. Our motivations are not always so pure. He does not chasten the way religion teaches. He does not withhold necessities of life, cause us illness or bring us into poverty to discipline us. That would be abuse and God is not an abuser.
I believe there is a pattern to how God chastens his children. In Psalm 51 we see how David responded to God’s chastening. This Psalm was written after the prophet Nathan confronted David concerning his sin surrounding Bathsheba and Uriah. The prophet revealed that David’s sin was not hidden but I think we can see in Psalm 51 that he had already been under the chastening hand of God.
I believe the first way God chastens his children is via his Word and the intangibles of our relationship with him. We have all been in the place where we just knew something was wrong. Sometimes it is nothing but the ebb and flow of life. Many things can cause us to feel out of sorts. It is different when we know that we have been going in a wrong direction or have allowed something in our lives we should not have allowed.
(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36193846. Click on the post that talks about the atmosphere created in the home. It is a beautiful example of what I am talking about. I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom. I may be partial but it is awesome!)
Sometimes it is sin but not always, at least not in the beginning. Hebrews 12 speaks of both sins and weights. Sin is sin. It is always wrong and will always open the door to things we do not want in our lives. Weights are not quite sins but they are things that hold us back from the full flow of the power and will of God for our lives. They may be habits, relationships or things that are just getting in the way of our Christianity.
In America, we have so many avenues of entertainment it is very difficult to be without it. I do not believe that movies, video games or television are, in themselves, sinful. I do believe they are often weights. They can keep us from prayer, study and church participation. It is not wrong to enjoy them but if the Lord is dealing with us about something we may need to set them aside. If we allow them to rob us of the things of God, weights can become sin. There are as many kinds of weights as there are people. You know what yours are.
God will begin dealing with us inwardly. He may lead us to some things in his Word that we know are speaking to a sin or a weight that needs to go. God is chastening us. He is letting us know that we need to make a change. If we respond at this point, there is no further need for chastening. If we do not, God loves us enough to make his will clearer and make the chastening more unpleasant.
We see this in David’s Psalm. The language is very poignant. He implores God that he might feel joy and gladness. When we are being chastened we often lose our Joy. We are not glad. David knew why he lost joy. He asks God to hide his face from David’s sin. David sinned. That is what was wrong. The lack of joy was a part of God’s chastening.
There are many reasons we may lose our joy or simply feel “down.” If you know there is something you should change, the quickest way to get your joy back is to repent. If you are not sure, you should ask the Father if there is something wrong. He wants you to know and he will not withhold the information from you. In my nearly 50 years of living as a Christian, I usually knew that something was wrong, I just did not want to face whatever it was.
I believe every Christian knows what I am talking about. If you have been a child of God any length of time you have had times of God’s dealing in your life. If we do not respond to the first type of chastening there is a second step. David reveals in the next level of chastening in verse 11. He cries out that God will not cast him away from his presence nor take away the Holy Spirit.
God will never leave your nor forsake you. Paul tells us that in the next chapter of Hebrews. However, part of the process of chastening is that God will cause the sense of his presence to lift from us. I have experienced this in my life and it is not something I want to experience again.
As with the first step of chastening, there are times we do not sense God’s presence that are not a result of chastening. Some days we just do not feel God there. It can be a physical or emotional thing. It can just be life. When something is wrong we usually know the difference. If the sense of a lack of God’s presence persists, we must go to the Father and ask if something is wrong. Do not be afraid to seek counsel from someone older in the Lord or a spiritual advisor. If chastening comes to this point, it indicates that something serious may be going on. We really need to respond.
If we do not respond to the second phase of chastening there will be a third. The concept of anointing is important to a believer. Anointing is enabling ability. It is the touch of God’s hand on life. We most often apply the word to ministry. However, I believe God’s enabling touch can and should be on all aspects of life. We can be anointed to do our jobs. There is anointing for marriage, child rearing and any other thing we do in life. We may be able to do them in our own ability. The anointing adds a touch of the supernatural.
I am a good public speaker. I know how to present a message. I know the techniques of holding people’s interest. I have been doing it a long time and I can do it in my own strength and ability. I cannot change lives without the supernatural touch of God’s anointing. Others may not recognize the difference but I will. I am sure David felt the lack of anointing on his kingship. There is another character in the Old Testament that is a more vivid example of this kind of chastening. His name is Samson.
Judges 16:20 (NKJV) 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
There is no specific statement that says God disapproved of Samson’s behavior. However, if you read about his life he was rebellious, ungrateful and given to the wrong women. I cannot say for sure that the first two levels of chastening were experienced by Samson. I can say that before you come to this point they will be in your life. Your really want to respond to them and not wait for what Samson experienced.
He had gone too far by the time we get to this verse. The source of Samson’s strength was not his hair. It was his Nazirite vow. No razor was to touch his head. He had been in the wrong kind of relationship with woman before. He had gotten away with it so many times he thought God would continue to overlook it. However, he had passed into the next stage of chastening. The anointing was no longer with him. It had been withdrawn.
To live without God’s anointing is something none of us should want to experience. A very few times I have had the experience and, thank God, it has never taken more for me to come to my senses. In our next post, we will look at the final stage of chastening. You do not want to get there.