You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. (Psalm 73:24)
We matter to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and He promises to guide us. The Lord has led His people in Bible times, He’s doing it right now, and He will continue to steer us until He brings all Jesus’ followers safely home to Heaven. He won’t lose a single one of us.
Old Testament Israel
Remember how God heard the groaning of the Hebrews and rescued them out of Egypt. The oppressors would not let the Jewish people go, so the Lord sent ten plagues to loosen Pharaoh’s grip on them. God set them free to serve Him. But the Lord did not lead them on the shorter but dangerous road through the Philistine country. God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”1
“Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is necessary, because God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not His way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come. (J. I. Packer, Knowing God)
The Lord foresees everything! And He wisely, lovingly, kindly, graciously directs the steps of His chosen ones along the best path. Only God knew that route in advance and He knew that the Hebrews’ faith was weak and that they were not ready for battle. The Redeemer knew His people better than they knew themselves. So He gave them a travel plan that they could handle and He took them to the Promised Land by a longer, but safer way.
We Need a Guide
Pastor Randy Loubier says: “It is an historical fact that you and I have a problem doing the right thing, for others and for ourselves. Yet, we deny it fiercely or wallow in shame, neither of which God wants for us.” Psalm 73:24 reminds us that we are not meant for Earth alone. Scripture says that we are only aliens, pilgrims, strangers, and exiles in this world, heading for a better world with Christ.2
God created the animals with instincts. By instinct, a spider weaves its web, a bear hibernates for winter, and birds build nests. Instinctive behavior is not learned, but comes naturally to an animal because the Lord designed them that way. We human beings are not like that. We often have little foresight. Apart from God’s help we have no prudence or wisdom to make the best choices. Life is full of dangers, difficulties, and dead ends. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”3
Eugene Peterson puts it this way: There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough. Look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak. God recognizes our limitations long before we are aware of them. And He carefully leads us along paths and through experiences that gradually prepare us for the next step.
Beware False Guides
The Bible warns us often about false teachers. They may be politicians, media figures, authors, church leaders, even friends who advise us contrary to God’s way. Pastor Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) gave “Seven Marks of False Teachers” which are helpful.
- People pleasers who tell us what we want to hear, but don’t help us follow God.
- Mud-slingers against Christ’s most faithful messengers.
- Conceited impostors and venters of their own heads and hearts.
- Rebels against the great and weighty truths of Jesus’ Law and Gospel who harp on what is least important to our souls.
- Deceivers who cover and color their dangerous lies with golden language.
- Persuaders for their opinions, but not for Christ-like living.
- Manipulators of their followers for their own profit.
False opinions and guidance bring devastating harm to individuals, families, and communities. No wonder Scripture says: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”6
God Is the Only Wise and Safe Guide
We need the Guide who has the experience, foresight, insight, faithfulness, unbending moral character, and the proven ability to care for us. The Lord (Father, Son, and Spirit) is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. Heaven belongs to Him and only He can bring us safely home.
So we should:
- Pray for His direction. “Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.”7
- Trust and obey His Scriptures. “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.”8
- Submit to God’s unfolding providence. “Father, not my will, but yours be done.”9
- Consult with proven, godly advisors. “The way of a fool is right in their own eyes, but a wise person is one who listens to counsel.”10
Prayer: Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.11
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Ex 13:17. 2 1 Peter 2:1; Heb 11:13. 3 Prov 14:12; 16:25. 4 Proverbs 14:12-13, The Message. 5 Adapted from “Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices.” 6 1 Thess 5:21. 7 Psalm 43:3. 8 Psalm 119:98. 9 Luke 22:42. 10 Prov 12:15. 11 Psalm 25:4-5.
Note: I was drawn to this Scripture based on Spurgeon’s long lost, but later discovered sermon.