“With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity; You consume as a moth what is precious to him; surely every man is a mere breath.” (Psalm 39:11)
Psalm 39:11 should be a standard memory verse for God’s people — but most have probably never heard it. Yet it explains so many of the painful things that happen in our lives, and heeding it might cause us to avoid so much hardship.
”With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity.” This explains so much. When God’s people sin, the Lord does not merely let them go on their way. As a loving Heavenly Father, He sends reproofs to discipline them, that they might return to Him. What form does this discipline take? Although it comes in various ways, one is mentioned in this verse: “You consume as a moth what is precious to him.” In other words, God may take away (“consume as a moth”) some possession or ability from a person, the loss of which is painful to them, in order to get their attention and draw them back to Himself. Does this not explain so much of what we see happen in our both our lives and in others’?
Sadly, many never consider this “disciplinary” side of God. As we saw in Psalm 38:1-3 earlier (see here) this is part of the “lost character of God” that is not popular to teach or write about. We hear primarily only of His comforting love and grace. But chastening for sin is also an aspect of His love. “For those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines … what son is there whom his father does not discipline? … He disciplines us for our good.” (Hebrews 12:6-10)
We wouldn’t consider an earthly father “loving” who never disciplined his child. True, well-rounded love involves discipline, for the long-term benefit of the one who is loved. “God is love.” And more perfect than any earthly father’s love, His love also involves discipline: “chastening for iniquity.” It is the oft-unspoken, yet very necessary, “other side of love.”