The whole world wants nothing more than to be free. This is a normal human aspiration, and God created us in His image to be free. Yet to live together in a healthy community requires restraints. We cannot have the freedom to hurt others or take what others have, etc. The instructions of the Lord bring life to all who adhere to them. But those who seek power for themselves do not want any restraint at all. The natural man desires to be free from the moral, ethical, and natural constraints imposed on us by anyone. Unfortunately, that includes the healthy restraints established for our lives by God himself. Psalm 2:2-3 speaks of how the powerful want all the power to break all restraints. It says, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’”

True freedom, however, only comes when there is a set of standards that all live by. If everyone does that which is right in his own eyes, you end up with the chaos and confusion of the period of the Judges with no clear leadership and no clear focus on what is right and wrong. The motive for “bursting the bonds apart” of the one in authority over you is motivated when we believe we know what’s best for our own lives and doubt the goodwill of our leaders. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve decided they wanted to “be like God” and chose to eat of the apple offered to them by Satan. But, God, in his great love for us has given us the instructions for life to establish order and happiness in all of its colors and flavors. His instructions are not designed to keep something good from us as Adam and Eve believed. They are to protect us. Hosea 11:4 says, “I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.”

Tesh says, “Many would thus casually free themselves from any restraints God would impose, not realizing that the cords with which he would bind us are cords of love. To free ourselves from God’s restraints is to subject ourselves to a bondage from which there is no escape!”[1] The picture in this verse points to an ox yoked for plowing. Jesus was using this image himself to communicate the truth of his bringing order to our lives instead of chaos. In Matthew 11:28 he says, “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for my burden is light and I am gentle and humble in heart.” Unfortunately, people still question God’s good intentions. As Everson says, “‘Freedom’ has been the watchword of Satan’s party from the beginning. The first couple believed the snake’s lie that the restrictions God had placed upon them were not for their good but hindered them from achieving their true potential (Genesis 3:1–5) and that has been the belief of fallen humanity ever since. ‘I did it my way’ sums up the lifestyle of the ungodly.”[2]

[1] Tesh, S. Edward, and Walter D. Zorn. 1999. Psalms. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press.

[2] Eveson, Philip. 2014–2015. The Book of Psalms: From Suffering to Glory. Vol. 1. Welwyn Commentary Series. Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP.