Navigating Life’s Rapids

Listen to the Audio Version

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

Psalm 32:5–11


Psalm 32 is one of seven penitential psalms (also Psalms 6; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143), so-named because they contain confession of sins and a plea for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Many scholars believe David wrote Psalm 32 after he committed adultery with Bathsheba. For about a year afterward, he refused to repent of his sins of covetousness, adultery, deceit, bearing false testimony, and murder. Then the prophet Nathan confronted him (2 Samuel 11–12).

In Psalm 32 David speaks of the heavy burden of guilt he experienced when he denied his sins (vv. 3–4) and the joy of receiving God’s forgiveness when he confessed and repented (v. 5) and became receptive to God’s rule in his life (vv. 7–11). David contrasts the blessedness of repentance (vv. 1–2) with the anguish of refusing to confess his sin (vv. 3–5).

“Everybody on the left, give me three strong forward strokes!” our whitewater raft guide shouted. Those on the left dug in, pulling our raft away from a churning vortex. For several hours, we’d learned the importance of listening to our guide’s instructions. His steady voice enabled six people with little rafting experience to work together to plot the safest course down a raging river.

Life has its share of whitewater rapids, doesn’t it? One moment, it’s smooth sailing. Then, in a flash, we’re paddling like mad to avoid suddenly swirling whirlpools. Those tense moments make us keenly aware of our need for a skilled guide, a trusted voice to help us navigate turbulent times.

In Psalm 32, God promises to be that voice: “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go” (v. 8). Backing up, we see that confessing our sins (v. 5) and prayerfully seeking Him (v. 6) play a role in hearing Him too. Still, I take comfort in the fact that God promises, “I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (v. 8), a reminder that His guidance flows from His love. Near the end of the chapter, the psalmist concludes, “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts him” (v. 10). And as we trust Him, we can rest in His promise to guide us through life’s rockiest passages.

Reflect & Pray

What circumstances in your life right now feel like whitewater rapids? How might you seek God’s guiding voice about how to respond?

Father, thank You for Your promise to be my Guide. Help me to seek You and listen to You as You direct the course of my life.

 For help in navigating the storms of life, read

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