Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law (Psalm 94:12 ESV)
Self-discipline is an interesting concept because it refers to my will and determination to follow a plan without deviating from it. However, that kind of discipline really is not accomplished by my own knowledge and power. I am dependent on the Lord to build it into me.
The word discipline has several meanings. The first definition that comes to mind is punishment whenever I do something wrong. The intent is to dissuade me from ever repeating the offense again. Discipline also refers to a field of study such as medicine, law, or engineering. Experts in these fields have a standard body of knowledge and rules that they learn and masterfully apply in their respective domains. A third definition has to do with training for the purposes of improving skills, knowledge, and character, which is the type of discipline God provides on matters related to spiritual maturity. Yes, he does dole out consequences when necessary, but he is also a patient and gentle instructor.
As previously mentioned, there is nothing within in me that can produce discipline all by myself. I need God and people who have more knowledge and experience to guide me, whether it be through classes, mentoring, or books. The source of all knowledge and wisdom begins with God, and he uses people to execute his work through words and deeds. So when the psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man whom you discipline,” he honors God as the Great Teacher. As one of the Lord’s pupils, I benefit from his instruction because he will “give me rest from days of trouble” (Psalm 94:13). This doesn’t mean I am shielded from hardships; it means that God will provide me peace and reassurance as I march through them. I sleep much better knowing that I did my best to obey and serve God according to his word.
I am sure that blessings will come my way for following his instruction, but having peace of mind and reassurance are the most valuable outcomes for me if I am given nothing else. As Job appropriately said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Being blessed in this sense means that I am in a state of contentment because the Word of God continues to be my chief advisor always looking out for my best interest.