Psalm 119 - Teth (Survive Through Affliction)
Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
The main message in this section of psalm is found in verses 67-68 and 72 – “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
The Psalmist was afflicted; he suffered from some troubles that affected him in a big way. But these afflictions were caused after he went astray, and he knew that he was the cause. While he mentioned “the arrogant smeared me with lies” and “their hearts were callous and unfeeling”, he blamed none of them but pointed the cause of his affliction to himself. His affliction made him turn to God, and he found the law, which he considered more precious “than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”. He found the grace and mercy of God.
He started the psalm saying, “Do good to your servant”. He was asking God for forgiveness. Then he asked God to teach him knowledge and good judgement, as he could have made mistakes due to indiscretions.
Have we felt unable to match up to God’s expectation, and decided to continue in our indiscretions instead of trying to change? The Psalmist even said that it was good for him to be afflicted so that he might learn God’s decrees. He didn’t say that it was good to sin. He said the affliction was good. God allows afflictions because we need to learn and not go astray.
What are the afflictions we are suffering from that arise from our going astray? Perhaps it is a relationship that turned bad after we went astray, and the bad relationship continues till today? Perhaps it’s something more serious like some illnesses. There may be afflictions that last a lifetime, but we just have to learn to grow. The reason why this psalm is in the Bible, is because God wants us to know He is good and He is gracious.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13 NIV)
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.