49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. 50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. 51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law. 52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them. 53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law. 54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge. 55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law. 56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts. 57 You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. 58 I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. 59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. 60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. 61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law. 62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws. 63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. 64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees. 65 Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord. 66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. 68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. 69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. 70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. 71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. 72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. 73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. 74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. 75 I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. 77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. 78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts. 79 May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes. 80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame. 81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. 82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?” 83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees. 84 How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors? 85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law. 86 All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause. 87 They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. 88 In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
One day I wondered what was at the halfway point of the Bible, so I separated the pages evenly putting my finger in what I thought was the centre and opened to Ps 119. It was unlike any other psalm, it was about our relationship with God’s Word. I know all Bibles are printed differently but for me Ps 119 is the centre and heart of the Bible.
This portion of the Ps 119 text contains multiple themes, but I was struck by the notion behind v67
“Before I went through suffering, I went down the wrong path.
But now I obey your word.”
This idea is carried several times in this passage but is most notably echoed in Heb 5:8-9
“Jesus was God’s Son. But by suffering he learned what it means to obey. In this way he was made perfect.”
For me this carries two quite comforting ideas. First is that hardship and suffering is an acknowledged part of life. It is inherent in the ‘fall of creation’ and experienced by all people. Second, suffering can have meaning and value if you allow it to transform you in a positive way through faith and prayer. I didn’t say it was easy, I said it can have value if you allow it.
In fact, it is worth spending five minutes today in prayerful meditation asking what value suffering has played in making you a better person. The answer might surprise you!
Written by David Newton