# 341 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 119 (vv. 65-72 ט Teth). It was good for me to be afflicted!

The goodness of God is mentioned and celebrated many times in the Scriptures, including in the Psalms. In Psalm 119:68 it says:

You [God] are good, and what you do is good.

And so, the psalmist feels free to ask in verse 65:

Do good to your servant
    according to your word, Lord.

But the psalmist also mentions that life has not been easy for him. In fact, he speaks of being afflicted (vv. 67, 71) The word means pain, suffering,distress, anguish. Something most of us endeavor to avoid at any cost, and also something not usually associated with the goodness of God (except in the Scriptures!).

So how can the words God is good and affliction be used together and not be contradictory? Well, let’s see what the psalmist has to say:

ט Teth

65 Do good to your servant
    according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
    for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
    teach me your decrees.

69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
    I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
    but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Did he say it was good for me to be afflicted? Are you were surprised by this statement?

Sadly, suffering in life is clearly difficult to avoid, and there are no easy answers sometimes as to why one suffers (seemingly undeservedly), whether it comes in the form of lifestyle choices (positive or negative) with their inevitable consequences, physical or mental illness, relationship issues, wars, or natural disasters.

But, for the psalmist, his particular affliction, it seems, was avoidable. Sure, some of it was helped along by the arrogant [who] have smeared me with lies … [those whose] hearts are callous and unfeeling (vv. 69-70), but he says concerning his affliction:

 67 Before I was afflicted, I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.

In other words, his affliction was as a result of his going astray! As much as it is an unpopular word today, the word that is relevant here is discipline, on this occasion coming from the hand of God.

In Hebrews 12 the author here speaks of the Lord’s discipline (v. 5). He even speaks of the subject as a word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son (v. 5), then continues:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:5-11)

I think the psalmist would wholeheartedly agree with these words when he says:

71 It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.

God is good, His Word is good and he intends good things for us, his people. Such things as knowledge and good judgement (v. 66) and much more.  

Sadly, like the psalmist, we also know that when things are too comfortable for us in life, we tend to stray from God’s ways, whereas in more difficult times we recognize our dependence upon God’s goodness and are more inclined to return to God’s Word and God’s ways.

So, in the words of Hebrews 12:

 … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebrews 12:1-3)  

Remembering always that God IS good and what he does is good – see Jeremiah 29:11.

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