ZAYIN - Comfort in Affliction
(49) Remember your word to your servant, because you have caused me to hope. (50) My comfort in affliction is this: your word revives me. (51) The arrogant incessantly mock me, but I do not deviate from your law (Torah). (52) I remember your judgments which are from ancient times, Yahweh, and comfort myself. (53) Burning anger grips me because of the wicked who have forsaken your law (Torah). (54) Your decrees are the theme of my song in the house of sojourning. (55) I remember your name in the night, Yahweh, and I will keep your law (Torah). (56) This has become a habit pattern of mine: I obey your precepts.
Four repeated words in these verses point us to the emphasis of the stanza. “Remember” occurs three times (vss. 49, 52, & 55). “Comfort” appears twice (vss. 50 & 52). “Law” (Torah) is used three times (vss. 51, 53, & 55) as well as “word” twice (vss. 49 & 50). In the key verse of the stanza, “comfort” and “remember” are brought together in one pivotal thought: “I remember...and comfort myself” (vs. 52).
These eight verses communicate one essential truth: in the midst of affliction (vs. 50), whether due to the wicked (vss. 51 & 53) or to trying circumstances (vss. 54 & 55), remembering God (vs. 55) and his Word (vs. 52), the God who remembers me (vs. 49), gives me great hope (vs. 49) and comfort (vss. 50 & 52). This represents a response which I need to develop as a habit pattern of my life (vs. 56).
I. God’s remembering me gives me hope. (49)
II. I am comforted in affliction when I call God’s Word to mind. (50-55)
III. Obeying God’s Word has now become my pattern of life. (56)
Comfort in affliction results when we discipline ourselves to remember God’s Word.
Developing patterns of godliness is an essential part of the believer’s growth in spiritual maturity. One way God builds such patterns into our lives is through adversity. How we respond to problems, to difficult people, to sufferings we inevitably encounter will in large measure determine our maturity level. Will we remember to turn to Yahweh, to his Word, and be comforted as we trust him to work in us, or will we complain, grow frustrated and bitter, and wonder where God is in the midst of adversity?
James began his epistle with the following admonition: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jas. 1:2-4). We should train ourselves to manifest this kind of response whenever we “face trials of many kinds.” If we discipline ourselves to “consider it joy” rather than to complain and feel sorry for ourselves, we will be far better prepared to face whatever life brings our way.
Often we need to ask ourselves, “How is God working right now in my life through adversity? What is he seeking to accomplish?” Psalm 119 has much more to teach us about this crucial subject in the coming stanzas. We need to remind ourselves frequently of this truth because we have such short memories, a good reason why the word “remember” occurs three times in this stanza. As we discipline ourselves to recall God’s purposes to mind in the midst of our difficulties, we will find his Holy Spirit strengthening and comforting us so that we can triumph in any situation we may encounter.