Psalm 119:71~It was Good for Me to be Afflicted


One of the primary values of our age is that suffering is bad. Physical pain and suffering must be eliminated at all costs. If it cannot be eliminated then we should have the right to end our lives. Children born with diseases should not have been born at all. Boys and girls are not taught to “fight through pain” anymore. They are taught to look for a way out. Pain, affliction, and suffering are enemies to be vanquished. Emotional pain is approached the same way. We avoid close relationships because they will create deeper scars when they are ruptured. We rarely commit to anything of substance because we could be criticized for it or it could go bad and we would look foolish. We guard ourselves against emotional pain.

There is some truth in our gut reaction to pain and suffering. It is not the way it was supposed to be. Without sin there would not be pain, at least as we know it. But in this fallen world pain and suffering don’t just exist. They are good for us. In the world, as it is now, suffering plays a central role in the life of the Christian. We might say that God has redeemed suffering and pain. In a few short verses the Psalmists tells us three times the value of affliction.

Psalm 119:67, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.
Psalm 119:71, It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
Psalm 119: 75, I know, O Lord , that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted.

The word translated “afflicted” in all three verses means to hurt, humiliate, cause to suffer, or cause pain. It is used in Psalm 105:18 where it says that Joseph’s feet were “hurt” when they were put in irons. It is used in Psalm 89:22 where it says that David will not be afflicted by the wicked. Perhaps most striking is Isaiah 53:4 where it says that Christ was “smitten by God and afflicted.” These three verses in Psalm 119 give us a rich theology of suffering. Continue reading