Vol.XIV No.III Pg.3
May 1977

Don't Be Like The Mule

Dan S. Shipley

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as 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." (Ps. 32: 8, 9 NASV).

The difference between a mule and a man without understanding is that the mule has an excuse. Mules have no capacity for understanding. Things such as the instruction, teaching, and counseling mentioned in these verses would be wasted on the mule. They can be wasted on men. God teaches men the way in which they should go (v. 8). However, some men do not understand His teachings because they do not choose to do so. Hence, the admonition, "do not be as the horse or as the mule..." Men can be different from the mule; they can have an understanding in the will and way of God. In fact, God appeals to man's understanding in these very verses in telling him not to be without it.

Important principles are involved here. Calvinism says that unregenerate man is like the mule; that he cannot understand. However, they forfeit their case by pointing unregenerate man to Bible passages that supposedly prove his inability to understand and expect him to understand the passages that say he can't. In addition, appeals and arguments based on Scripture are made to the unregenerate who allegedly have no capacity for under standing them. Calvinists have even been known to debate their positions with the "unregenerates". To them, that should be something like arguing with a mule. In the face of such glaring inconsistencies, it appears that the mule is not alone in his lack of understanding.

Why would God say, "don't be like the mule" if man could not do otherwise? If it be objected that God is speaking to the regenerate here, then that would make them susceptible to NOT understanding, which is the very thing being regenerated supposedly makes possible. But the truth is, God addresses Himself to the UNREGENERATE; to the sinner. He instructs and teaches them in WORDS whereby they might be saved (Acts 11:14). Unregenerate men come to the Savior and salvation as the result of hearing and learning what God teaches (Jn. 6:45), NOT by the Holy Spirit's "bit and bridle" being placed upon his heart in some unsought and irresistible way. As indicated in our text, the mule comes near his master in response to the bit and bridle. Those made in the image of God come to their Master in response to His invitation; they come in a spirit of willing submission motivated by genuine love. You might say that the mule HAS to submit to his master's REIN; but that understanding man WANTS to submit to his Master's REIGN.

The tragedy is not that sinful man cannot understand, but that many will not (Matt. 13:14,15). It comes to all who sincerely want it and diligently seek it (Jn. 7:17; Matt. 5:6). It comes to those who are willing to put aside pride, prejudice and indifference. God shows the way which we should go. Don't be like the mule.