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Psalm 32:9

ESV Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
NIV Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
NASB Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you.
CSB Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.
NLT Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.'
KJV Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

What does Psalm 32:9 mean?

There is debate among scholars as to the "voice" used here. One interpretation is that God directly speaks these words. The other is that the words are presented from the perspective of David. In either case, the advice is sound, and the application is the same. The promise given here extends to everyone who faithfully submits to godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 3:1–6). A major theme of this Psalm has been the misery which God inflicts (Revelation 3:19) on those who refuse to acknowledge their sin (Psalm 32:1–4). This corresponds to the coarse methods used to control unreasoning animals, such as bits and bridles.

When David desired Bathsheba and committed adultery with her, he acted as senseless and out of control as an unbroken horse or mule. His animal-like behavior in the murder of Bathsheba's husband also showed that he was disobedient and out of control. Isaiah 53:6 compares disobedient people to sheep that have gone astray. To restore David, the Lord chastened him and convicted him of his moral failure. Chastening is an indicator of the Lord's faithful love (Hebrews 12:6). Without chastening, an unruly believer would continue sinning and forfeit the Lord's blessings.
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