65 You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word*.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
The word of God has a purpose we often miss. And the reason we miss it is we have made an incorrect assumption for why God provided a written testament of his will. The purpose we miss is that God wants to shape our characters by the words he has given to us. When we begin to look at the word of God as the instrument God uses to conform our thoughts and wills to his heart, we may very well begin to see the growth we long for.
The underlying assumption for why we miss this purpose is much simpler than we may want to conceed. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do!
We think that heeding God’s word and obeying God’s commands will amount to a repressive restriction upon our person. The problem with thinking this way is it says a great deal about what we believe about God’s intentions toward us. God is “good and [does] good.”
To fail to trust in God’s eternal goodness is to reject everything else we think we know about God. The more we fight against God’s goodness the harder our ability to grow. If God restricts our access to something, we should rejoice. It means God has our best interests at heart. He knows more than we will ever understand. To trust God, even when we do not fully understand his plan, is the best decision we can ever make.
Verse 65: God will deal with all of us according to the same standard, his word. What this means is God does not show any favoritism toward any one person. The commonly used word in the scriptures to describe this is “impartiality.” God applies the same standard to all people. That is comforting. It means that we are no better or no worse off before God. God will deal with us without comparing us to anyone else.
Verse 66: Having “good judgment and knowledge” should be something every believer seeks. But, how are we to acquire it? How do we maximize our chances of attaining these good qualities? Interestingly, the writer of Psalm 119 says they come through our believing in God’s commandments. What makes this an odd relationship is we are often told to understand so that we can believe. However, what if, in God’s economy of things, when we believe we come to know? While we may intuitively seek to know first, it may well be worth our energy to believe first and see how that improves our knowing.
Verse 67: We have to recognize the connection between our disobedience to God’s word and our going astray. If we don’t we will wonder why our choices never seem to satisfy our longing. Going astray from God is the preceding action to being afflicted. We are not afflicted because we go astray. When we go astray from God is when affliction can come. And if we are afflicted when we are away from God, we don’t have God to lean on. When we keep God’s word, we are setting ourselves up to be comforted by God because we know what God expects of and desires for us.
Verse 68: The testimony of the Psalmist is that God is both good and a doer of good. This description of God is helpful because it reminds us that God’s character does not change. We can expect God to do good because of who he is. He is a good God. It is in the context of that goodness that we can call upon God to teach us his statutes. If we desire to be good like God, then we must learn to think and live like God as well.