A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.
How do we begin to comprehend the depths to which sin can lead us? Sometimes the best way is through an analogy.
In the proverb, a wicked man (fool) is compared to the horse and donkey. In Solomon’s times, these animals were not as domesticated as they are today. What was needed for both of those creatures were appropriate tools to force them to do what their master wanted: a whip for the horse to correct when necessary, and a bridle for the donkey to keep it from wandering.
Apart from grace, the unredeemed one needs correction from sinful patterns and direction so that one doesn’t stray. The irony, as we know the subtly of sin, is that no force applied can keep the heart from sin. The analogy is that it takes something of this magnitude to just bring one to a civilized state. In most instances, even these tools only tend to harden the heart.
Let us pause today to praise our wonderful Lord who has come, not to bring a whip and bridle, but to offer his grace by his own life. He gave his word to guide and correct us, and his spirit to keep us from going astray.