How does God guide us

How does God guide us?

When we need directions, we look at a map or signs. But how does God guide us? According to Psalm 32:8, He guides us with His eye upon us. Let's dig deeper.

You know “the look”? It’s a sort of code my husband and I use when we’re at an event and it’s time to go. He doesn’t have to say anything. He just catches my eye from across the room, and subtly gives me “the look”. Then I know what to do—politely end my conversation and meet my patient husband at the door. 

This type of gentle guidance from my husband is much better than an abrupt interruption of my friendly chat with friends, accompanied by a tug on my sleeve or a squeeze of my arm, followed by a blunt, “Let’s go”. That could be uncomfortable.

But if I’m not attentive to my husband, or if I refuse to respond and instead ignore “the look”, it would be understandable if my husband abandoned the milder approach in favor of a more high-pressure tactic to motivate me to follow him. 

In Psalm 32:8, God promises to guide us “with His eye upon us”. The language used here invokes a similar concept to “the look” my husband gives me to guide me to the door without a word. It’s gentle, easy, and kind.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8 NASB). 

Pull out your Bible and let’s look at this verse in context, digging a little deeper. 

Psalm 32 is written by David. He begins this psalm by expressing the joy of being forgiven (vv. 1-2). David wrote this from first-hand experience because he was a “man after God’s own heart”, yet he sinned gravely—committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed.

Because of his fellowship with our holy God, David could not get comfortable with his sin. He describes a sense of heaviness, “groaning all day long”, his physical body feeling the effects of his sin (verses 3-4). 

But when David confesses his sin to God and receives God’s forgiveness, protection, and deliverance in verses 5-7, the heaviness lifts and joy is restored. (See also 1 John 1:9.)

This is where we encounter the welcome promise of verse 8. The assurance of God’s instruction, guidance, and counsel happens in the context of fellowship with Him. 

We enjoy unhindered fellowship with God because of Jesus Christ. Like David, we are sinners, unqualified for entrance into the presence of a holy God. But Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, giving us right standing with God so we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).

Because of Jesus, we get direct access to the omniscient God of the universe, who willingly gives us gentle guidance for our lives.

But there’s more…

The promise of God’s guidance in Psalm 32:8 is followed by the cautionary picture of a horse or mule that requires a bit and bridle to keep it in check. It refuses to go where the master wants it to go without the pain and pressure caused by the bit and bridle. David warns us not to be like this stubborn animal because refusal to submit leads to “much sorrow” (v. 10).

It is here David ends the song with renewed joy:

“But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart” (Psalm 32:10-11 NASB).

God wants to guide us in the way we should go, but our experience of His guidance is determined by our response to His guidance. 

Hebrews 12:6 tells us “the Lord disciplines those he loves”. When we’re not submitted to God’s leading, we can experience His guidance through pain and pressure—discipline—like the bit and bridle, and like the heaviness of rebellion described by David earlier in the psalm. 

Or we can experience God’s guidance joyfully and as an expression of His lovingkindness when we’re submitted to Him and trust in Him. 

When we receive the grace bought for us by Jesus Christ and experience the joy of fellowship with Him, we can also enjoy His gentle guidance by staying attentive to His instruction by reading and studying His Word, and submitting to His leading by responding to His Word in obedience.

Has God been guiding you with His “eye upon you”? Has He been giving you “the look” in some area of your life? How will you respond?

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