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Briefing: Have you ever had a policy named after you? In other words, a department policy that addresses a behavior that you had personally been caught doing, but at the time there was nothing in place to discipline you?

Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 79.

On the Street: When I was a young boy, I was very obedient. I did not want to disappoint my parents in any way. I knew if I got caught stealing candy, egging houses, or vandalizing property, I would be disciplined by my parents. The kids I hung out with did these things but they got away with it and never got into trouble. Their parents did not seem to care or were too busy to put in the effort to punish and correct their conduct.

God created humans with a desire to know what the rules and boundaries are. There is a peace to knowing how far you can go, or not go, and still be within the acceptable parameters. When you play a game, it is always best to know the rules ahead of time so everyone plays fair and by the rules. No one likes a cheater. We don’t like someone who cuts in line and does not wait their turn. It is a basic human instinct.

When someone is caught breaking the rules, we expect them to be disciplined. There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is training that develops self-control, character, or orderliness and efficiency. Punishment is a penalty imposed on an offender for a crime or wrongdoing. When someone is disciplined, there is an expectation that the mistake will be corrected, and will not be repeated. Punishment does not care about correcting the problem. Its only goal is having the offender pay the price for the crime.

So let me ask you, would you rather be disciplined or punished? Turning the question around, when you catch someone doing wrong, a child, spouse, or employee, do you discipline or punish? When you get into a fight with your spouse and you don’t speak to them for a day, what is your point?

In this psalm we read about the hardship that Israel is in. This is not some minor incident. They have been attacked and invaded. People have been killed and taken prisoners. The writer of this psalm turns to God with this cry for help.

We must understand that God has taken Israel as His own. He chose them to be His children, and as His children, He expects them to obey Him and follow His rules. When children disobey, they either get punished or disciplined. Since our God is a good God, you can trust He knows which method to use, discipline.

We would all prefer to be disciplined when we get in trouble. What happens if we do not correct our behavior after being disciplined? Does there come a point when discipline no longer works and you have to switch over to punishment? Yes.

Whichever course God chooses to use, we must understand that our response must be humble, sincere repentance. We see this in Psalm 79. Verse 9 says, “Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.” Skipping over to verse 13 he writes, “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” This last verse is the goal of discipline. Simply go back to doing what is right.

If you find yourself in a place where things are not going right, and something is off, consider if you are being disciplined by God. Take time to reflect on what you might have done to deserve being disciplined by your Heavenly Father. If you can point to past sins that have not been confessed or ongoing sin that has not been admitted, you need to get right with God. Follow the Israelites example and humbly, sincerely ask for forgiveness and change your ways.

Investigational Resources: 2 Samuel 12:1-13, Psalm 32 and 51.

Officer Safety Principle: Just like your physical and mental health, your spiritual health is important. What have you done lately to check your spiritual health?

from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 1
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!