A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 2)

A NERDY INTRODUCTION

In our last post we began to examine Psalm 119:50. We used the ESV translation, which states, ” “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

The ESV chose an interesting way to translate the word אמרתך. The word is translated promise. However, in the NASB and the NKJV, is is translated word.

According to Logos, the word  אמרתך (or its derivatives) is translated one of three ways: word(s), speech, and command.

Psalm 119_50_Word Graphic
The results from a word search on Logos 8, gathered from the NASB95. The graph represents the occurrences of each translation of the Hebrew word. The total amounts of translation are: word(s): 32; speech: 4; and command: 1.

Generally, then, the אמרתך is used to describe word, speech, or a command. In the case of Psalm 119, we can safely presume it refers to God’s Word. Almost every verse of Psalm 119 (176 in total) refer to God’s Word in one form or another. The next question is, How does God’s Word (or promise, as the ESV renders it), provide comfort in affliction?

A PROFOUND TRUTH

Books can be written to answer that question. To limit our discussion (and the length of this post), I want to focus on a few verses from this Psalm in particular.

To begin with, there is a specific happiness that accompanies biblical obedience. The psalmist begins the wonderful chapter with these words, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk int he law of the LORD.” (Psalm 119:1, NASB) During times of affliction, whether spiritual or physical, comfort is gained from the joy of obedience (compare this with Hebrews 12:2).

Or take another verse, Psalm 119:6, “Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.” (NASB) When we look at God’s commands. Of course the word entails more than simply looking with one’s eyes. It involves observation, intent attentionprolonged and purposeful examination. Even during affliction, observance of God’s Word frees one from shame.

SO WHAT?

So what does this mean for you? Well, it depends upon the affliction facing you. What are you going through? What troubles are attacking your body or soul? What family members are experience tumultuous times?

Do you turn to the only place that can provide true help? As Dr. Berg bluntly states, “It is, rather, mutinous for created beings to turn to themselves for solutions when they were created to depend upon God Himself.” [Jim Berg, God Is More Than Enough: Foundations For a Quiet Soul (Greenville, SC: Journey Forth, 2010), 6.] We are so prone to turn to everything but God, and He has graciously provided His Word to help us during times of affliction. When dealing with anxiety, we can turn to the God Who holds everything together. When struggling with sexual temptation, we can find satisfaction in the wonders of Jesus Christ. The afflictions will vary in kind and intensity, but the answer is always the same: God’s Word.

As we continue to journey through these verses in Psalm 119, I hope that you realize that God’s Word is such a treasure-trove of comfort and delight.

 

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

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A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 1)

In a previous post, we begin a brief overview of affliction as it appears in Psalm 119. The subject of affliction appears seven times in the mammoth psalm. We begin with the first appearance of affliction in Psalm 119:50.

David pens these words,

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” (ESV)

A BRIEF DEFINITION

Affliction is translated from the Hebrew word עני, which, according to one lexicon, means “affliction, poverty.” Another possible definition is “misery.” No matter which one you choose, the picture is not pleasant.

The connection with affliction and the trials we face are obvious. We are all afflicted with a variety of problems. They vary in significance and intensity, but they afflict us all. This broad understanding helps us in every situation, and is another evidence of the complete sufficiency of God’s Word for all our problems.

CAN THERE BE COMFORT IN AFFLICTION?

If you are like me, you may find yourself asking the question, “Can there be comfort in affliction?” It would appear to be an oxymoron to many of us. Imagine finding comfort while mourning the loss of a spouse. Try to find comfort when the doctor informs you that you have six months to live. Look for comfort when your bills are more than your income.

These are all severe cases, but what about the “little things”? Can you find comfort when you are late to work? Is there comfort for your car breaking down once again? Does a severed relationship with a friend at school make room for comfort?

Can comfort be present in affliction, severe or little?

David’s answer is a resounding yes. Contrary to the marred thinking of sinful human beings (see Ephesians 4:17-18), Christians can find comfort during times of affliction.

A LIFE CHANGING TRUTH

Is this not wonderful news? Regardless of the scenario of affliction, the believer can receive comfort. Though the trials will vary in intensity and timing, we can find comfort, true and life-infusing comfort.

The idea is consolation. We all need to be comforted, to feel that everything will be alright. God’s Word comforts us. Like feasting on chicken noodle soup after a bout with sickness, God’s Word provides healing down to the very depths of our souls.

LIFE GIVING PROMISE

How does David find comfort during times of affliction? David says, “your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50, ESV). The promise found in the sacred Scriptures provide life-infusing comfort during those times of adversity.

The question remains, what promise?

For that, you will have to wait until the next post.

God’s Mercy and Our Daily Bread

Thomas Manton’s An Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer has been a remarkable work. My soul has been filled, my heart has been challenged, and my joy has been stirred. The depth to which the Lord’s Prayer can be plumbed is, in my estimation, unimaginable.

Yet Thomas Manton has performed a wonderful work by presenting one more beautiful facet of the Lord’s Prayer. It comes on the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11, NASB)

Though his treatment of this verse spans seventeen pages, I found one point particular spectacular. Manton writes,

Ps. cxxxvi. 25, you have there the story of the notable effects of God’s mercy, and he concludes it thus: ‘Who giveth food to all flesh; for his mercy endureth forever.’ Mark, the psalmist doth not only ascribe those mighty victories, those glorious instances of his love and power, to his unchangeable mercy, but our daily bread. In eminent deliverances of the church we will acknowledge mercy; yea, but we should do it in every bit of meat we eat, for the same reason is rendered all along.

….It is not only mercy which gives us Christ, and slavation by Christ, and all those glorious deliverances and triumphs over the enemies of the church; but it is mercy which furnisheth our tables, it is mercy that we taste with our mouths and wear at our backs.

(Thomas Manton, Works, Volume 1, 154-155)

I just read that Psalm this morning in my private reading. What powerful thoughts! Every time we pray for God’s provision for our daily sustenance, it is because His mercy endures forever.

What a glorious thought! Have you contemplated this truth today? Do you realize that everything you have been gifted is all because of God’s mercy and provision? Imagine how different our lives would be if we, like Jesus instructed us to, prayed “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

Disciple: 5 Lectures for the Help of the Church

In July-August of 2018 I was allowed to lead one of our Life Seminars (a Bible study). I chose the topic of discipleship, as, in my humble opinion, churches can improve in this area.

I broke the subject down into five lectures. Below are my own lecture notes and accompanying study notes. If they are helpful, praise God! All mistakes are my own, and any glory belongs to our gracious and sovereign Heavenly Father.

WHO IS A DISCIPLE?

Who Is a Disciple? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 1

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE BELIEVE?

What Does a Disciple Believe? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 2

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, GENERALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Generally? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 3

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, SPECIFICALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Specifically? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 4

HOW DO I MAKE DISCIPLES?

How Do I Make Disciples? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 5

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

Recently I have experienced some incredible times of God’s presence. I have been reminded of His powerful sovereignty. I am revived by the sufficiency of God’s Word for all of our problems.

What is the cause of these sweet times with my Father? I can answer that question with one word: affliction. I will not go into details, but the last few months have been incredibly difficult for our family. Now, I do not mean that every day has been a struggle. Quite the opposite, we have enjoyed many joyful times in our private and ministerial life. However, we have experienced an increase in affliction.

Shortly before these afflictions began, I started reading Psalm 119. The psalm is packed with references to God’s Word, and I desired to see how intricate His Word is for the life of the believer. This personal study has produced an incredible yield of fruit in my own life, and consequently, in the life of others. My hope and prayer is that this brief series would encourage you with the sufficiency of God’s Word, the sweetness of God’s sovereignty, and the all-sufficient supremacy of God above everything.

In my personal study, I focused on Psalm 119:92. David writes, “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.” (NASB) One afternoon I had some additional personal study time in which I jotted down just a few thoughts.

  • God’s Word must be meditated on because
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of God
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of ourselves
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of our successes and failures
  • God’s Word must be meditated on constantly
    • Because we often forget about God and ourselves
    • Because we are constantly beset with sin
    • Because our problems are new every day

After reading these thoughts to my wife, she asked if I was preparing a sermon. Though I usually am, it was meant simply for personal edification. However, it turned out that I was given an opportunity to preach, and so I set to work developing these points further.

After the sermon, I realized that there was much more contained in this psalm, and so I spent more time studying.  One goal I had was to develop the idea of affliction as it is used in Psalm 119.

I found seven uses of the English word affliction in the NASB. These are Psalm 119:50, 67, 71, 75, 92, 107, and 153. In my research I found that the word translated as affliction comes from two Hebrew words.

In the following posts, I hope to provide an overview of affliction as presented in Psalm 119. I am amazed at how God’s Word is always the answer to our afflictions. I hope that these tools will find their way in your tool box, for past, present, and future afflictions. I pray that you and I will, like David, cry out “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.”