Psalm 119:71

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
that I might learn thy statutes.

~ Psalm 119:71

David is not found here fainting under the chastening hand of the Lord. We know that chastisement is not very pleasant. The writer of Hebrews says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous” (He 12:11). It is very tempting to complain or at least grudgingly submit. However, the Psalmist gratefully submits to God’s will. He goes so far as to say, “It is good.” He expresses complete confidence in God. He does not say that he hopes it will be good or maybe it will turn out all right. He says, “It is good.” Let us look to the scriptures and find food for our soul concerning our afflictions.

Psalm chapter 34 states in verse 19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Often we find that our afflictions are brought upon ourselves because of contrariness to the word and will of God. David admits as much when he says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Ps 119:67). David has retraced his steps. He has searched his own heart and found it not perfect before God. God is justified in afflicting His servant, as always. David can see the good even though it is difficult to bear. Even in affliction, we should praise God and submit to His will. God does not afflict without a reason. He is not as a man, given to many different tempers and frames of mind. God does not act on a whim or in a fit. Whatever He has done, He has done well. David realizes this and gratefully submits to His sovereign will.

David sees that through chastisement and suffering he is brought to a better understanding. Solomon said, “The rod and reproof give wisdom.” One great design in affliction is that we will be made better. David says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Those afflictions might be chastisement and they might be ordained sufferings. Our Lord suffered, and it was not chastisement. Shall we escape the cup that our Lord had to drink? We are made better in suffering and to be chastised of the Lord is to be blessed. “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law” (Ps 94:12). We should thank God that when we stray He corrects us in order to bring us back to Him.

We also see that chastisement is consistent with our desire. Paul said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Ph 3:13-14). He said that he was not running uncertainly but in order to obtain. The great aim of our life should be to be conformed to the very image of Christ. If this is our desire, then the chastening of the Lord is consistent with it. God’s chastening hand will lead us back to the way whenever we have strayed from it. Therefore, we should welcome correction when it saves us from greater folly.

Christian, what is your state at this hour? Are you afflicted? Have you searched your heart? We must determine if our afflictions are for correction or suffering. Let us with David invite the Lord to “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24). Oh, to be made conformable to Christ and to be purged of everything contrary! May God grant us this blessing in Christ Jesus.

About Jeff Short