It Was Good For Me To Be Afflicted - Psalm 119i Teth

Psalm 119
65 Do good to Your servant
- according to Your Word, O Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
- for I believe in 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
- that I might learn Your decrees.
72 The law from Your mouth is more precious to me
- than thousands of pieces of silver and of gold.

Do good to Your servant, according to Your Word...  THAT is a mouthful, especially if you believe as we Christians believe, that Jesus was and is "The Word". "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God... The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1,14). I see similarities to Paul's prayer for believers in his epistle to the Ephesians:

I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:14-19

So there it is. The first verse of this section of Psalm 119 is asking for nothing less than to be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God. It is building upon the theme of the previous section ("You are my portion") and it sets the tone for the verses that follow.

Teach me knowledge and good judgement for I believe in Your commands. The Psalmist has already heard and believes in the commands of the Lord. He has no controversy with them. But because he believes he is constrained to ask for instruction in them. A mental affirmation is not enough and could be likened to the Law being written on tablets of stone. The Word of the Lord is to become flesh in it's hearers.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit IN you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27

When we have only a mental grasp of the Scriptures (even if it is doctrinally correct) we are dead.
You search the Scriptures for you think that in THEM you have eternal life. These are they that testify about Me and yet you refuse to come to Me for life. John 5:38-40

Before I was afflicted I went astray... As Psalm 14 says, "There is none that seeks God, no NOT EVEN one." So the great Shepherd of our souls came looking for us and found us in our devastated condition. He paid an awful price to not only draw near to you but to BE your life, in your current condition, no matter how dire and whether you can feel His presence or not. To those who are broken and in need this is good news. If we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, we feel no need of Him and the Word is in danger of being choked out as Jesus said "by the deceitfulness of riches." James exhorts the rich man to take pride in his LOW position because the sun will rise with scorching heat and he will wither like a flower, even while he is going about his business.

But now I obey Your Word - If we are His sons we can expect His discipline to bring us into the place of receiving and dispensing His mercy. As Psalm 30 says, "But when You hid Your face from me, THEN I was dismayed. To You LORD I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy." He wants us to know, in our deeps, that any good thing that we have came from Him as a gift.

You are good and what You do is good... When the rich young ruler called Jesus "good teacher," Jesus asked, "Why do you call me good? None but God is good." There is no middle ground of a goodness independent of God's own life working in you. If we are identified with His death and His resurrection, we can say in truth, "It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives within me," and "the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me."

Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies... Claiming the life of God in Christ would seem to be presumption, but it is actually the humility of agreement with God. The moment we venture out into these waters, the threats and lies of God's enemies become directed at us. Jesus was accused of healing and casting out demons by the power of the Satan. He was accused of blasphemy by calling Himself the Son of God, but He would have been lying to say that He wasn't. ... I keep Your precepts with all my heart. Will you hold fast to your testimony when it begins to draw the ire of the powers that be?

Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in Your law. Persecution arises from our identification with the life of God, but then it actually causes us to discover His life in depths that otherwise we would not have known.

It was GOOD for me to be afflicted that I might learn Your decrees. Even as Christ was rejected by the chief priests and elders, and abandoned by His closest friends, He was demonstrating the fullness of the depths of the love of God that had previously been hidden (though hinted at in the types and shadows of the "Old" Testament).

The Law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. Jesus is the only One who has given God the reverence and honor that is His due. He reckoned His Father's will to be more valuable than anything, even His own precious life. This is the attitude that He gives us when we receive the gift of His Holy Spirit.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

If this is not our attitude then it is not the life of Jesus working within us.


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