I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Psalm 119:75 ESV
The psalmist is speaking with a Job-like spirit in this verse. Of course, the premise of the book of Job is set up in the first two chapters. Satan appears with all the heavenly hosts before Yahweh and asserts that he could afflict God’s prized servant into cursing the face of his Maker. The devil is first permitted to decimate Job’s children and possessions and then is allowed to strike at his health, only being commanded to spare Job’s life. Job’s response to this great and sudden affliction at the hand of Satan is first to bow his head in worship, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed by the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Then in response to having his body afflict and being told by his wife to curse God and die, he said, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil” (Job 2:10)?
Although the book of Job is about wrestling with the suffering and affliction that we are all sure to meet in this life, it does not resolve that wrestling. Why God permitted Satan to afflict Job is never fully explained. But the fact that God did indeed allow Satan to afflict Job is not swept under the rug. In fact, Satan is not even mentioned again after chapter two. In His mysterious and divine providence, the LORD orchestrated the affliction of Job. And for all of Job’s lamentation, he did learn to see the LORD’s faithfulness in affliction. Indeed, Job did not sin because like the psalmist he knew that God’s rules are righteous. Though he wrestled to understand what God was doing, he ultimately upheld the purity of God’s nature and ways.
Again, the psalmist sounds very Job-like. Like Job, he roots his faith in his knowledge that God’s rules are righteous. Also, like Job, he openly and painfully acknowledges that God has every right to afflict him and is still faithful in doing so.
A restoration of this truth would help us today to properly mourn and lament as we walk through seasons of affliction. As it stands, we are typically quick to ascribe our suffering to anyone and anything other than God in order to defend our own idea of His goodness. But God’s sovereignty is lost as a result, with God being reduced to nothing more than a spiritual shoulder-to-cry-on. It would be far better to take the biblical approach of both this psalmist and of Job, praying something along these lines, “I know that You have afflicted me in faithfulness. Lord, nothing happens to me outside of Your sovereign hand, so this suffering is by Your design. I also know that You are good. Though I cannot understand, help me walk with faith down this path that You have prepared for me.”
Brothers and sisters, we know (at least intellectually) that suffering is unavoidable in this life. Therefore, we ought to prepare ourselves to endure the tempests of life by anchoring ourselves with these two steadfast truths: that God’s rules are righteous and that He always afflicts His children in faithfulness.