This week we’re going to look at the ninth stanza of Psalm 119. In the Hebrew, each line of this stanza begins with the Hebrew letter “Teth”. In the English King James Version (below), each line begins with the letter “T”. The whole stanza is the psalmist’s personal testimony to his experience of the goodness and graciousness of God in his life and the preciousness of His Word. Particularly, in these verses the psalmist proclaims the goodness of God in afflicting him (119:67 and 71). Yes, you read it right -- the goodness of God in afflicting him -- because it was through his affliction that he came to learn and treasure God’s law.
65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
67 ‘Til I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
69 The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
71 ‘Tis good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
The stanza begins with the psalmist’s testimony (119:65). God had dealt well with him. In his experience, God had been faithful to His Word in all situations. God had never let him down!
Through God’s Word (His statutes, precepts, law), the psalmist sought to learn good judgment and knowledge (119:66). To him, God’s Word was a teaching tool (119:66-68). He learned, believed God’s instructions, and he kept (119:67) them. When afflictions came, he turned to God’s Word, believed, and obeyed. He came to see the goodness of God and the goodness of all He did. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). The psalmist had experienced the goodness of God in his life, even (and maybe especially) in times of pain and suffering. As a result, he wanted to learn more. He wanted to be taught. What an example for us! Instead of complaining and dwelling on our problems, let's be like the psalmist and turn to God and His Word, knowing that He is good and will work out our difficulties for good as we obey and trust Him.
In119:69-71, we see an example of the affliction the psalmist mentioned. People had told lies about him. It seems there was “fake news” even in Old Testament days. The psalmist described the hearts of the liars as being fat as grease (119:70) meaning they were disgusting….detestable. Their words and their way of life reflected what was in their hearts, and rather than harming the one they targeted, their words defiled them (see Matthew 15:18). Their lies and their lives were not aligned with God’s law, but the psalmist took great delight in God’s law, so much so that he realized it was good for him to experience affliction. That is what motivated him to learn God’s law (statutes, 119:71). We can learn a lesson from this that should encourage us to have an intimate relationship with God’s Word. As we go to God's Word, leaning on it in all we do, we find true delight -- even in hard times. In return, we develop an even deeper desire to live by His laws, statutes, and precepts.
Through his affliction and experience of slander against him, the psalmist came to treasure God’s law and to see that God’s words are better than any amount of earthly wealth. His eyes were open to the truth and He made his decision for God and His Word. The psalmist's treasure was in heaven and not on this earth. Where is your treasure?
G. Campbell, in Notes on the Psalms, wrote, “Affliction to the trusting and obedient soul is invariably beneficial. The rebellious are broken and embittered by it, but the obedient are healed and ennobled.” Those who refuse to humble themselves under God’s Word will inevitably lead broken and bitter lives. Bitterness is a terrible thing. The writer of Hebrews warns, See to it….that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble and by it many be defiled (12:15). Bitterness not only destroys the individual but those around him or her as well. Have you noticed when you buy a basket of strawberries, if there is rotten one, all the strawberries that touch it develop rotten spots as well. Let us cleanse our hearts and delight in the great treasure God has given us. May our lives reflect the goodness and grace of His Word. May goodness and godliness shine from our hearts and be a light that draws many to the truth.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.