This is not “psalm” of David but a “maskil”. This Wikipedia page about the psalms has the word defined as one that denotes a psalm that imparts wisdom and identifies the popular ones under the “themes” tab, it also includes that it is derived from a word that translates into “enlightened” which is support by this other Wikipedia page on the Honorifics in Judaism. BibleHub just has it listed as musical or liturgical term. So, let’s take a look and see what the wisdom is that is imparted to us by this Maskil of David.
5I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
6Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
At first, I was enjoying this one and it’s general sentiment until verse 8 and 9. Is the writer trying to train God on how to best be of service to him?
It sounds like that to me, and I’ll be honest, I don’t see God taking that well. I can get back on board with verse 10 and 11, but those prior two throw me for a loop. The textbook my husband had used in his psalms class, The Book of Psalms suggests that this is a second person meant to join into the music to counsel the first. I also noticed when clicking on the link to several translations of verse 8 itself is that several other translations capitalize “My” to indicate that God is talking to the writer. Both of those make more sense, but this is where things like punctuation would help out someone like me.
The idea that verse 8 begins someone else, who may or may not be God Himself, speaking makes a bit more sense too of calling it a maskil. My feeling is that the wisdom is to not be obstinate to God’s instruction. Try to understand. Don’t try to keep things from God, acknowledge what you’ve done wrong. He’ll forgive you and help you do better as long as you go to Him with it all.
This is also a sentiment that I’m familiar with from church that tends to get a heavy sugar coating. It’s talked about as if you don’t even really need to be accountable for what you do, but I feel like that misses the mark too. It’s not that I think God will hold a grudge or something, but that it’s akin to someone who promises a loved one that they will quit smoking. If you said it while it’s not in your heart and you run around doing it anyway, they will eventually turn away and realize that you aren’t serious about them or the promise. If you said it and it was in your heart, but you’re a wreck and have a hard time, they’ll continue to help you figure out the way that you can persist, even if it takes a few tries.
Maybe that’s just me, but that’s how I feel about it. I feel like God would have just taken the sacrifice from Cain way back when if it wasn’t just as much about accountability within your relationship with Him.