It’s All For Our Own Good
Read Psalm 119:57-80
Ps 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 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.
Today’s thoughts will not be a continuation of yesterday’s, but it could be. Chapter 119 is a tribute to God’s word, a love letter written by the author to his Lord. We would be well served to develop our love for the word of our Lord so that the writer’s thoughts could be equally as applicable to us as to him. But today we are going to look at something different from the writer’s hand. In this short section, he mentions ‘affliction’ twice. What did the Psalmist mean?
I can’t say with total assurance that I have it figured out, but I can say that I can find application in my life and in the lives of some other men I know. In verse 67 the writer states that before he was afflicted, he went astray. I personally know three men who were merrily rolling along, living gay lives, when something very destructive happened to them. They discovered they were HIV positive. All three of them were believers, or at least had professed belief in Christ, even before that time. When this devastating news came to them, they knew that their only hope was to turn to the Lord.
All three of them drew close to God, began being more faithful in church attendance and joined a Christian SSA support group. They believed that God had done something (or allowed something, if you prefer) to gain their attention. As we studied in an earlier devotion, God often does something drastic to bring His children back into His fold. Subsequently, these men became heavily involved in bible study and seemed to have found their way back into complete submission to God’s will. Disagree with me if you wish, but I believe these three men had been ‘afflicted’ by the Lord.
After my last venture into the homosexual conduct, the Lord got my attention also. He completely took away my peace and left me with an emptiness of heart that was severely unbearable. I was ‘afflicted’ by my Savior. This affliction did not relent until I had completely turned around and went back to my Father in heart-felt humility and complete submission. It was then that I realized (hopefully permanently) that I could no longer stray away from Him. Peace and harmony with my Savior is much more to be desired than the devastation of being outside His will.
The Psalmist stated his return to the Lord this way: “But now I obey Your word.” And, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.” There is a lesson to be learned when God goes out of His way to bring us back to Him. We must pay attention to what just happened to us, and our resolve to stay close to Him should be concretely embedded in our minds and hearts. The Psalmist obviously learned his lesson, based on the way he expressed his love for God’s word.
There is one sad thing to add to today’s thoughts. Two of the three men mentioned earlier have returned to their gay life. Even worse, both of them are now embracing the ‘new’ theology that God doesn’t have a problem with their gay lifestyle. They falsely believe that they are in full fellowship and good standing with Christ. If they are true believers, God will bring something into their lives that will be even worse that HIV. I don’t even want to think about the alternative.
The true believer will understand that he cannot willfully live contrary to God’s word and continue to be blessed by our Lord. There is no biblical basis to believe otherwise. We see all throughout the bible that God’s people do not get away with living in continual sin. Both the Old and New Testament reveal instances when God chastened and disciplined those who belong to Him.
Our ‘afflictions’ are designed specifically for the purpose of forcing us back to our Lord. We must not ignore such warnings.
Ps 32:9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Prayer: Why does it take such things for us to finally get our act together? Lord, we must be the most stubborn of all Your children. Forgive me for making You chasten me. I should have come back to You on my own, rather than have to suffer Your afflictions. I pray for the two men who have not heeded Your warning, and all others who are like them. I don’t know how to pray for them, so I will simply ask that Your will be done in their lives.