The Pastor's Brief

Feeding the Sheep from a Pastoral Perspective

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:3-5

 

Recommended Resources

Black and White Star in Circle

I am blessed to serve as the the pastor of Calvary Baptist. If you have any questions regarding my theology or various doctrinal positions, you can find your answers by visiting our website: www.calvaryburley.org

Black and White Star in Circle

Like many Christians, I have been blessed by the teaching and preaching of John MacArthur. He has preached his way through the entire New Testament, and all of that precious material can be found here: www.gty.org

Black and White Star in Circle

As far as I'm concerned, straight-line exposition was perfected by S. Lewis Johnson. Much of his preaching ministry can be accessed here: www.sljinstitute.net

 
 
  • Andy de Ganahl

Blessed Affliction – Psalm 119:65-72 (ט)

You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.

Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.

The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.

Their heart is covered with fat, But I delight in Your law.

It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”


God’s complete sovereignty over the preaching calendar never ceases to amaze me. This is a text that the church needs to know, to understand, and to embrace. As we glance over this text, you’ll notice that the word good appears several times (vv. 66, 68 (2x), and 71). But there are actually two more than you realize. Both the words “well” in v. 65 and “better” in v. 72 are really the same Hebrew words for good. This stanza contains six references to what is good.


All of those references reflect the Hebrew טוב(tove), which is the same word used in the creation account. In Genesis chapter one it was Almighty God who looked at His creation and called it good. The word indicates a high quality that is complete, sound, whole, appropriate, and correct. He does this six times, once at the end of each day. At the end of creation, God looked at the totality of everything that He had made and called it all very good, the seventh time. The psalmist is writing about the goodness of God, His plan, His Word, and how it intersects with us. What is his assessment?


You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.


As we’ve already said, the psalmist is literally saying, “You have done good to Your servant.” That’s an interesting statement. Not many of us would be so willing to say that. Do we honestly believe that God has done good with us? Are we in the situation that we feel like we ought to be? But notice that this is not an open-ended statement. The psalmist qualifies it – according to Your word.


This is not a subjective standard based on our happiness or our desires. The psalmist is saying that God has done to him as is appropriate, correct, and right by God’s own standard. The psalmist is recognizing that God is currently and has always dealt with him perfectly and appropriately. Our psalmist has an excellent understanding of God’s goodness and that understanding moves him to do three things: Pray, Persevere, and Praise.


Prayer: Praying for God’s character to be reflected in our conduct (vv. 66-68)

Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes


Once again, we see the psalmist requesting God to teach him. Just a quick comment here, this psalmist constantly displays his humility. How often do we actually come before the Father and ask Him to teach us? We always want His help, His power, His ability to make our problems disappear. But do we humbly come before Him and beg Him to teach us what we need to learn? But look at what he wants God to teach him.


This is not necessarily a request for information, but the ability to apply information. Good discernment is literally good taste. He is asking for the ability to use correct and appropriate discretion and discrimination in his life. This is the ability to choose between what is better and what is best. And note what he immediately backs this request up with: For I believe in Your commandments.


Most of us never pray the way this psalmist is praying because we honestly do not believe in God’s commandments. Sure, we give them lip service on Sunday, but we never actually use them as the foundation of our lives. We treat them as guidelines to be referenced rather than commandments to be obeyed. The psalmist begins with the Word of God and accepts it as true, right, and correct. Then he prays for the ability to apply it in the most precise way. Lord, I know that Your ways are the best ways. I believe that what You have said is for my good as one of Your creatures. Give me the ability to choose the best approach to every decision that I make so that it conforms perfectly to Your Word. That’s what he’s praying.


You may be thinking that is all well and good. But what about when times get tough? Does God still do good to us when we get sick, when we lose our jobs, when the country is at a standstill? Just keep reading, friend.


Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.


That word afflicted means to be oppressed or humiliated. In case you missed it, the psalmist is writing from the context of affliction. He is here referencing a time before this affliction began and he says that he was in sin. To go astray is the same term used in Lev. 5:18 and Num. 15:28 of unintentional or unknown sin. What the psalmist is saying is that he was living a life of sin and was not even aware of it. But does that make it acceptable? What does the last half of the verse say?


But now I keep Your word.


We’ve been given a before and after picture of the psalmist’s life. Before affliction came, he was walking a path that was not in conformity to our Lord. But then affliction came and the result was obedience. Understand where he’s going with this. When he began by stating that God has done good to him, he is specifically referring to his present humiliation and affliction. He is stating that his present condition of affliction is a gift from God and that it is good. It was this adverse condition that revealed his wandering heart and allowed him the opportunity to repent. Now, after affliction showed up, he keeps God’s word! He holds fast to God’s promise tighter than ever before, all because God has done good to him.


You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.


God can do nothing against His nature and what He does reflects His nature. If God is good, then all that He does is also God. In this light our psalmist repeats his prayer: Teach me Your rules and regulations, for they are also good!


Perseverance: Contrast between the fraudulent and the faithful (vv. 69-70)

The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.

Their heart is covered with fat, But I delight in Your law.


These two verses reveal a stark contrast between the faithful psalmist and his fraudulent enemies. These are the same arrogant and wicked men that we have already seen (vv. 21, 42, 51, 53, and 61). They are collectively against our psalmist and have undertaken a smear campaign to slander him. Their hearts are united as one (note the singular) but are completely callous. The Hebrew literally says fatty like the fat. The idea is that their heart is completely insulated to the point that nothing will get through.


The psalmist is a different story altogether. His heart is wholly engaged in obedience and worship. He takes no notice of his enemies, because their unjust and unrighteous deeds are of no consequence. Difficulty never dictates our obedience. The God-hating world must never determine our faithfulness. God is good and He does good. Part of that includes allowing evil men to do evil things in order to purify His church.


Praise: Convinced of God’s goodness in affliction (vv. 71-72)

It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”


Look at what this psalmist is saying. It is good for me that I was afflicted? Who speaks like this? A man who understands that God is good and all that comes from Him is good. This is exactly what Paul was referring to in Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.


That does not mean that things will work out the way that you want them to. It means that God uses affliction and adversity in our lives with precision for our good. When James wrote that we should consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, he was speaking along these same lines. Affliction robs us of all our confidence in ourselves and pushes us to Christ. Charles Spurgeon summed up what the psalmist is saying, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”


The psalmist looks back and recognizes that God used affliction to reveal sin in his life. This is good!


He looks back and understands that God used affliction to push him toward a deeper understanding of His Word. This is good!


Now he recognizes that God’s own instruction, which comes directly from His own mouth, is better (good) than all the wealth of the earth. This too is good!


Conclusion


We are living in a world gone mad. Are you able to say with the psalmist that this is good? Not because the curse from sin so obviously on display is good, but because this adversity and affliction reveals our own sin and our own self-reliance. If this revelation crashes us upon the Rock of Ages, let us learn to kiss it, thank God for it, and call it good.

 

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