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The Scriptorium

Antidote to Straying

It's how God loves us back to His way. Psalm 119.67

Psalm 119.65-72 (3)

Pray Psalm 119.67.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.65-67.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
You have dealt well with me, O Lord, just as You promised in Your Word.
Teach me good judgment, help me to know all that I need to love You so.
Let Your commandments light my way. Send sweet affliction when I stray,
that I may walk Your holy way and keep Your Word.

Read Psalm 119.65-72; meditate on verse 67.


Preparation
1. Where was the psalmist before he was afflicted?

2. What was the result of his being afflicted?

Meditation
Christians today do not like the idea that God might discipline us for one reason or another. God loves us, they insist. He knows we are frail. He doesn’t chasten or afflict us, but His patience and kindness bear with us in our frailties. He accepts us as we are, warts and all.

Yeah. No.

Here’s how the writer of Hebrews phrased the idea conveyed in today’s text: “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons… Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12.7, 8, 11).

Our psalmist testifies that he was straying from God’s path, but now he keeps the Word of God. What happened to cause that change? Affliction. Good, good, good, good affliction. The storm of proud men’s slander, libel, and lies (v. 69). Oh yes, this psalmist had lost his way, and his detractors took advantage of his straying to “perfect-storm” his reputation with their greasy gossip (v. 70).

And that got his attention. He was trained by his affliction and made his way back to the Lord. People may slander and libel us, but we must not give them reasons to do so. The psalmist’s affliction shook him to his soul and brought him back to the Lord and His Word. The workings of grace can sometimes be painful. But in the end, they’re always amazing. Expect that to be the case whenever you stray from the Lord.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Monstrous. That is how John Calvin speaks today in our quote about our recalcitrant spirit. How many of us really see our disobedience to God in that way? But in fact, if we do a little study of discipline, we will see that is exactly how we should view ourselves.

The remedy, though, is all of God’s grace. And He is more than willing to forgive us, after we have learned what He is trying to teach us.

Here are a few verses about parent/child relationships and the need for discipline in that arena:
“He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray” (Prov. 10.17).
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Prov. 12.1).
“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Prov. 13.1).
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13. 24).
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Prov. 22.15).
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29.15).
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to our soul” (Prov. 29.17).

If we are truly honest, how many of us enjoy a demonstrably disobedient child? Should God enjoy us any better? I think not.

“You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you” (Deut. 8.5).
“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole” (Job 5.17, 18).
“Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law…” (Ps. 94.12).
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves
He corrects…” (Prov. 3.11, 12).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3.19).

The motive behind a parent’s discipline is first love, and then training for safety. We all want our children to listen to us when we warn them of danger.

In the very same way, God, first of all, loves us. Then He wants us to hear His voice as it guides us safely and obediently through life. And if we should falter? He swiftly and carefully brings us back from going astray.

We wouldn’t want it any other way, for now we keep His Word.

For reflection
1. Why is it reasonable to think that God would lead us into afflictions from time to time?

2. How should you respond to Him at those times?

3. What should we be looking for during our times of affliction?

It is indeed a monstrous thing obstinately to refuse to submit ourselves to Him; and yet experience demonstrates, that so long as He deals gently with us, we are always breaking forth into insolence. Since even a prophet of God required to have his rebellion corrected by forcible means, this kind of discipline is assuredly most needful for us. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.67

Pray Psalm 119.68-70.
Thank God for the times He has used affliction to draw you closer to Him and more into line with His Word.

Sing Psalm 119.68-70.

(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
Lord, You are good, and good You do; teach me that I may do good, too.
Wicked men my true pathway distort: I keep Your Word with all my heart.
Their heart is dark with sin’s cruel blight, but in Your Law is my delight.
Let me not turn from Your sweet Light, nor from Your Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

The winds of false doctrine are exceedingly strong in our day. If we don’t recognize them, we may become swept up in them and blown off course in our walk with Lord. Our ReVision study on “Winds of Doctrine” can help you keep the sails of your soul in the wind of God’s Spirit. You can download all the studies in this series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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