The subject of affliction will come up again in today’s passage. In fact, the subject comes up over and over again in the entire book of Psalms. I think it is good for us to recognize that the Christian life is not absent affliction and suffering. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. Some of the deepest suffering I have observed has been in the lives of some dear believers. As hard is this is to understand, I believe, as the songwriter said, “We’ll understand it better by and by.”
Section 10 (JOD)
Psalms 119:73-80 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
Since I am writing this on a Sunday, and many of you will soon be preparing to attend church, or have recently returned from a church service, I will keep today’s thought shorter than some of the others.
There is really a simple narrative going on in these verses that, when broken down, can give us a glimpse into the heart of the psalmist.
He has been talking about the matter of affliction, and that is still on his mind as he writes this passage.
He begins with another request for understand, but this time with an acknowledgement of God as His Creator. The creative power of God is all through the book of psalms. From the creation of the world to the forming of man, and the ongoing act of creation in the forming of every new life in the womb.
The psalmist acknowledges that the God who created him can continue to give to him the things he lacks. God made our minds. He can give them understanding. God made our hearts. He can give them comfort. God wrote His Word, and God made man. Who better than God, to know how the two should interact?
Many times in the last ten days the subject of hope has come up, and the psalmist has remained committed to hope in God’s Word. Hope is not “wishful fancy” as it is used today. The word hope is much stronger than that here. It is a confident looking for. It is expectation.
Now we see the psalmist express that in his life, those who feared God were glad when they saw him coming, because he was known for his confident trust in the Word of God. He was a boosting influence when he walked into the room. If he walked into the hospital room of a believer who was sick, they were glad to see him. If he attended the funeral of a believer who had died, the family was glad to have him there. If He was called upon to speak to gathering of believers, they heard him gladly. His hope in God was contagious. It lifted their spirits. Would to God that this was our testimony! We have seen, and will see again in a moment, that the psalmist was not without difficulty. Yet, he offered hope.
This has often been my experience when listening to older Christians who have seen God’s faithfulness through many years. I have visited them to cheer them, and they have strengthened me. I am thinking this morning of a dear couple going through so much physical suffering. Every time I see them, I know they are not in an easy place, but their trust in God is contagious. God bless every believer with this testimony.
In verse 76 we see the psalmist is still in the middle of affliction, and he is acknowledging that it is from the Lord, and that the Lord knows what He is doing.
So we see him bringing hope to others, while he himself is hurting. Where will he turn?
I cannot say for sure, but in verses 77-78 he seems to find himself with nowhere to turn but God. Not that this is a bad place, indeed the best place to turn; but he does not mention any comfort or hope given to him by the very people mentioned earlier. He seems to be left alone to face his own pain, and the proud who are troubling him.
Many Christians grow bitter at this point. They comfort others in need, but when they are in need, there is no one to comfort them. Many pastors, pastor’s wives, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and so on, know the loneliness of ministry in this regard. One person, may comfort many over time; but when they are in need of comfort, there is not even one person to offer aid.
The psalmist wasn’t bitter. He simply went to the One from whom his strength came in the first place. He sought the tender mercies of God. Man is not always a great comforter. God always know just what we need. His mercies are tender mercies. They come softly to us. They soothe and heal. He binds up our wounds gently.
The psalmist really has three requests in this time of affliction. Let me give them to you, and we will end.
- Let your tender mercies come unto me. As we have said.
- Let those that fear thee turn unto me. Bring me people who are like-minded that I may fellowship with them. Friendship and fellowship is a vital necessity in our lives, especially in difficult days.
- Let my heart be sound in they statutes. Don’t let my heart waver. Keep me steady. Keep my heart fixed on you.
Let’s turn these things into a closing prayer.
Heavenly Father, help me today to offer hope and gladness to those who are suffering. Help me be the kind of person that other believers will be glad to see coming. When I am afflicted, I ask only that your tender mercies would come to me, bind up my wounds, draw me close to Yourself, and walk with me through the affliction You bring into my life. Father, I long for the fellowship of other believers as well, so I ask that you will bring to me those who also trust You. Bring friends into my life, like the friendship of David and Jonathon. Through it all Lord, let my heart remain steadfast in Your Word. Don’t let me waver. Let me finish my course having been faithful. In Jesus name, amen.