No Need to Perish
Life will hit us hard at times with all types of adversity: illness, financial woes, death, etc. Such troubles can also shake our faith and turn us away from God. In Psalm 119, the psalmist found himself in some severe difficulties, and his response to them provides valuable insight for us when we experience the turmoils of life.
As we read through the psalm, it becomes apparent that the psalmist is in the midst of adversity. Numerous times he uses the word affliction/afflicted. His soul “cleaves to the dust” (v 25), and it “weeps because of grief” (v 28). “Trouble and anguish” have come upon him (v 143), and he rises before dawn to “cry for help” (v 147).
The nature of this trouble does not appear to be an illness or personal problem but an oppression by enemies. He speaks of princes who talk against him (v 23), being reproached (v 42), and of the arrogant (v 51) and the wicked being against him (v 61). He has oppressors (v 121), persecutors and adversaries (v 157). We are not informed of the specifics about these enemies, but he sees himself in dire straits because of them
This brings us to the psalmist’s understanding of his situation. He recognizes that the Lord has been behind his affliction (v 75), and that He has done it out of faithfulness to him. How could this be? What could be God’s purpose in allowing such troubles? The writer readily confesses (v 67) that this current situation has brought him back to serving the Lord. He admits that this has been good for him (v 71) so that he might learn the statutes of God. This is likely the learning of how to live by the word and trust one’s life to God rather than mere “head” knowledge. In fact, he fully asserts that if God’s word had not been his delight, he would have perished (vv 92-93).
Lesson for us? When disappointment and adversity strike, get out God’s book! Read His promises and assurances. Listen to His voice. Read how others persevered in the face of trials. Delight in God’s word so that you, too, will live and not perish.