Do you treasure affliction? I don’t! But Psalm 119 shows me that affliction turns us more wholeheartedly to the riches of God’s word.
In the ninth section of Psalm 119, named after the Hebrew letter, Teth, the psalmist focuses on affliction. God sometimes uses affliction as punishment, and he always uses it as instruction.
The psalmist begins by confessing God’s righteousness and his own belief.
You have dealt well with your servant,
O LORD, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments (65-66, ESV).
The psalmist has recognized the fulfillment of biblical promises in God’s blessings. He believes God’s word and prays that God will teach him to be wise. He next confesses that affliction has shown him the error of his ways.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word (67, ESV).
Affliction generates recognition of sin and return to righteousness. These things lead to an increased awareness of God’s goodness.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes (68, ESV).
Sometimes I think the saying, “God is good,” seems like a trite statement, but this verse shows me that it is biblical. This is particularly true if it’s combined with an acknowledgment that God not only is good, but he also does good. And it becomes even more biblical when complemented by prayer for increased knowledge of God’s word.
Affliction frequently springs from the actions and words of wicked people.
The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law (69-70, ESV).
Even when falsely accused, we must continue to wholeheartedly obey God’s word. More than stoically obeying God’s law, we can delight in it! This delight enables us to admit that the affliction was good.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes (71, ESV).
Affliction is good because it brings us deeper into God’s word. We mine its riches and discover its incredible value.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces (72, ESV).
Imagine rubbing your fingers over a smooth gold coin. Now imagine that you’re standing before an open chest, mounded high with gold and silver coins sliding to the ground around it. Thousands of pieces of treasure glinting in the light! You can’t take it all in. Your pockets can’t begin to hold all that treasure.
Open the chest of God’s word. It is filled with more treasure than you can imagine. Pick it up!