James 3:1-12 – In James discussion in this chapter he is speaking of the tongue (i.e. what we say, what comes out of our mouths), calling it a “restless evil and full of deadly poison.” Earlier in his writing, James said, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle [5468- “to lead by a bridle, to hold in check, restrain”] his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless [see verse 27].” (James 1:26/NASU) He is referring to the “bit and bridle” training of the Holy Spirit that every disciple of the Lord must come under so as to have our fleshly nature subdued, broken and submissive to His will. Without this confining training of the Holy Spirit in the school of Christ, we, like an untamed horse, will not listen to the Master’s commands, but will instead want to do what our flesh desires, fighting His will.
1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
3 Now if we put the bits  into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.
4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
NT:5469 chalinos (khal-ee-nos')
(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
from NT:5465; a curb or head-stall (as curbing the spirit):
KJV - bit, bridle.
chalinos [NT:5469] – “a bridle,” is used in James 3:3 (KJV, “bits”), and Rev. 14:20. “The primitive bridle was simply a loop on the haltercord passed round the lower jaw of the horse. Hence in Psalm 32:9 the meaning is “bridle and halter” (Hastings, Bib. Dic.).
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
“The bit, bridle and reins function together to give control of the horse’s head to the rider. [They all work together to form a means of communicating with the horse.] The bit applies pressure to the horse’s mouth, and reinforces the other control signals from the rider’s legs and weight distribution. A well-schooled horse needs little pressure on the bit from a skilled rider…”
“The way a bridle works takes advantage of a horse’s natural inclination to move away from the discomfort of pressure – it results in the horse moving in the direction the rider wants to go as the rider pulls on the reins. By using strategic pulls, the rider signals what they desired of the horse…”
Psalms 32:8-9 – Knowing the inherit wickedness within mankind’s fallen nature, I believe this applies to every one of the Lord’s children to one degree or another, otherwise we would not come near. In mercy, it is a vital part of our training when we first turn to the Lord. In his discussion of the Lord’s discipline in our lives, the writer of Hebrews states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11/NASU) Since we’re not always so good at “training ourselves” (1 Timothy 4:7, Hebrew 5:4) the Holy Spirit, our “Helper,” is there to assist us when necessary.
In Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah he said, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way [see Matthew 22:5]; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6/NASU) Praise God that He reaches out to us when we stray. (For more verses on “gone astray” see Psalm 119:176, Matthew 18:12, and 2 Peter 2:15.)
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel [3289- “to advise, to give counsel, to consult, to plan”] you with My eye upon you.
9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding [995- “consider, pay attention to, regard, discern, perceive”], whose trappings [5716- “ornaments, a headstall”] include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near [7216- “to approach, to enter into, to draw near”] to you.
(The following insight is from the Bible study The Third Day Gathering, p.5.)
In a vision given to Bill Britton entitled The Harness Of The Lord, the Lord revealed His preparation of the remnant of His people through which He will pour forth His glory for all the world to see. He saw those in the church at the end of the age who would not submit to God’s training that is designed to bring us into full maturity. Instead they choose to break free from the restraints of being confined in the corral of God’s dealings.
They were compared to horses who would not submit to their Master’s training, jumping the fence for the temporary thrill of running “free” in the lush fields of religious activity. These fields are soon going to dry up, like the Euphrates River [see the study for why I wrote this], bringing into view the mature sons who stayed the course. Bill writes;
“For in the hour when famine sweeps the land, He shall feed by His own hand those who are submitted to His perfect will, and who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. When terror stalks the land, those in His harness shall not be afraid, for they shall feel His bit and bridle and know the guidance of His Spirit. When others are weak and frail and fearful, there shall be those who shall be strong in the power of His might, and shall lack for no good thing. In the hour when the traditions of the religious systems have proven false, and their streams have dried up, then His chosen ones shall speak forth with the true Word of the Lord.”
(The Harness Of The Lord in Bill Britton’s book Eagle Saints Arise, p.21)