Study 5 GOD’S DEALINGS WITH HIS OWN PEOPLE
TEN STUDIES IN PSALM 119
by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75)
The subject of affliction is not an easy one for the believer to understand, but it is dealt with very fully in God’s Word. The psalmist has much to say about it, and in our key-verse he tells of something which he had experienced himself; he knew that God was working out His glorious and gracious purpose in his life, and that is something really worth knowing! Looking at this verse carefully you may feel that the word “afflicted” is a hard one, but this is not so, because it speaks of God’s loving and merciful dealings with His own people. It tells us of the Lord’s discipline (Deuteronomy 8:2-6), and this word discipline is not a hard word; it has to do with a father’s loving dealings with his child. The psalmist knew this and that is why he could break forth with this wonderful testimony in Psalm 119:75. We must study it, and the sequence of teaching which it shows us about God’s dealings with His own people.
1. Psalm 119:75 - “Yes, that is true of me: I am afflicted!”
Notice the little word ”me” in the verse. It refers to you, to me, and to every Christian. God is dealing with His own people, fashioning them, disciplining them, sanctifying them, afflicting them (to use David’s word). If this is not true of us we are not Christians at all - look up Hebrews 12:5-8 and compare Psalm 34:19. It may be that you are experiencing affliction now - some sorrow is overwhelming you, or some loss or disappointment has come into your life. You recognise that you are “afflicted”.
2. Psalm 119:75 – “I am afflicted, and God has done it!”
Notice how David is careful to say, “in faithfulness you have afflicted me”, and notice the significance of the two pronouns “you… me.” Perhaps you say, “I can’t believe it; I can’t believe that God has afflicted me!” Who has done it, then? Was it the Devil, was it some friend, or an enemy (as for example in Psalm 119:78), was it chance or fate? No, none of these! It was the Lord – “This is my doing” - look up 1 Kings 12:24, and compare 1 Samuel 3:18. God is sovereign in His dealings with His people. Our affliction may be due to the work of the Devil, or to the failure of friends, or to the wickedness of enemies; but nothing happens in the life of the child of God without God’s loving permission. It you want to bring Romans 8:28 in at this point please do so, but remember to read the verse within its context (verses 28-30), and remember also to quote the verse at all times, not only when things seem to be going well (Psalm 34:1). So, whatever your affliction, just now or on some future occasion, God is over it, working out His will and perfecting His work in you (Philippians 1:6).
3. Psalm 119:75 – “The Lord has afflicted me in faithfulness!”
This is what David says, and it means that the Lord has been at work in our lives with the sincere intention of doing us good, and that He is just and righteous in all His dealings with us. He is faithful to us and therefore deals with us as He sees best, and because we are all different He deals with us in different ways. He afflicts us, disciplines us, for our good always, because He loves us and wants the best for us. He is not only kind but He is mercifully kind, as we learn from verse 76 (KJV); and His mercies are tender, as we learn from verse 77 (KJV). So our faith must lay hold of the fact that God is faithful and we must “have faith in God” (Mark 11:22); or, as the missionary Hudson Taylor used to say, ”We must lean on the faithfulness of God”.
4. Psalm 119:75 - “What the Lord does is right!”
David said, ”I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous.” When affliction comes upon us, because the Lord is our Lord and we are His children, we should be able to say, “It’s all right, Lord!” God can only do what is right. He cannot do wrong. So, the psalmist says, “Whatever there be - losses, tears, bereavements, disappointments, pain, sickness, blindness, deafness, dumbness… if God permits them, they are right. They are for His glory and they are for our good.”
5. Psalm 119:75 – “I know that all this is true!”
Notice that David does not say, “I think so!”, or “I suppose so!”, or “I want to believe it!”, or “I hope so!” Nor does he say, ”I can see it to be so!”, because the fact is that usually we cannot see what God is doing - look up John 13:7. What the psalmist says is, “I know it… !” This is the language of faith, faith that is operative in personal experience. Is this your language, or are you questioning, fretting, resentful and rebellious?
6. Psalm 119:75 – “I gladly acknowledge it!”
David said, “I know, O Lord…” , and in saying that he was praising the Lord, submitting to Him and recognising His sovereignty in his life. This is real victory. This is the way to experience Isaiah 26:3; this is the quiet rest of faith, it is the humble acceptance of the Lord’s purpose and of all that He is doing in our lives; it is entering into the experience of 1 Samuel 3:18 (second part).
7. Psalm 119:75 - What is the secret of all this?
What is the secret of this quiet, restful, submissive reaction to the Lord’s dealings with us? The secret is found in:-
- 1. A readiness to learn - see verse 73, and compare Philippians 4:11.
- 2. A desire to be used - see verse 74, and compare Philippians 1:12.
- 3. A hunger for God’s Word - see verses 73, 74, 76, 77, 78 and 79, and compare verse 107 (KJV).