Psalm 119 is the longest and one of the most remarkable chapters in the Bible. The theme of Scripture occurs over and over again. As a matter of fact, the Bible is mentioned in at least 171 of the 176 verses. The author, probably David, used 8 basic words to describe the Bible: the Law, the Word, the Judgments, the Testimonies, the Commandments, the Statutes, the Precepts, and the Word (Here, it is “Imrah” in Hebrew; the other word for Word is “dabar”).
According to David Guzek, “Psalm 119 is arranged in an acrostic pattern. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this Psalm contains 22 units of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 sections is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line in that section begins with that letter.”
One of the themes of the Psalm 119 is the relationship between affliction (adversity, trials) and the Word of GOD. Let’s take a look.
Psalm 119:50: “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has given me life.” Affliction can produce worry, stress, fear, and so many other spiritually harmful emotions. Yet, the author says he experienced comfort in his affliction. How? “You Word has given me life.” Yes, the Word of GOD gives life. As one reads the Word in the midst of affliction, he/she experiences comfort. Affliction produces discouragement. The Word of GOD breathes life into the heart of the afflicted believer.
Psalm 119:67: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I keep Your Word.” Sometimes we learn the lessons of life the hard way. Let’s view this verse in chronological order. The author says, “he went astray.” That is, he rebelled against GOD and His Word. Then he declares, “I was afflicted.” After he sinned, GOD administered divine discipline. The author was afflicted. Then he wrote,
“But now I keep Your Word.” He sinned. GOD disciplined him. As a result, he repented of his sin and turned back to GOD and His Word. Notice past tense: “I was…I went. Notice present tense: “But now I keep.”
Psalm 119:71: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted. That I may learn your statutes.” The psalmist looks at the positive aspect of his affliction: It worked good in his life. As a result of the adversity, He learned more about GOD’s Word. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Very little is learned without affliction. If we would be scholars, we must be sufferers…GOD’s commands are best read by eyes wet with tears.”
Psalm 119:107: “I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.” The psalmist was not just afflicted – he was afflicted “very much.” As a result, this affliction adversely affected his life. He was discouraged and disheartened. He cries out to GOD to revive his soul. Just how does GOD revive the soul? “According to Your word.” Reading, studying, and hearing the Word of GOD produces a spiritual vitality in our lives. The Word of GOD revives us when life is at its worst!
Psalm 119:153: “Consider my affliction and deliver me. For I do not forget Your law.” Believers are not immune from adversity. Through experience, we know that adversity can hurt us physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. In the midst of his painful adversity, the psalmist prays to GOD: “Consider my affliction and deliver me.” For what reason should GOD consider his affliction and deliver him? “For I do not forget Your law.” With some believers, they turn away from GOD and His Word when adversity strikes. Yet, the psalmist declared the adversity drove him closer to the Word of GOD. GOD’s Word comforted and encouraged him.
Psalm 119 helps us in our lives in so many ways. When one’s life is turned upside down as a result of a severe trial, the believer can rest assured the Word of GOD is the answer. In each of these verses, GOD’s Word was the comfort and help in the psalmist’s time of need.