It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. – Psalm 119:71
Meaning of Psalm 119:71
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the books of Psalms, with many profound verses. The verse Psalm 119:71, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ means a Christian must value experiencing adversity in life as it can lead to spiritual growth and wisdom. Here, the psalmist understands that facing hardship and challenges in daily life can be a difficult experience. However, it is also an opportunity for learning and growth. The psalmist intends to express that by going through difficult times, Christians can learn to rely on God’s wisdom and guidance while gaining a deeper understanding of His ways. Hence, affliction means physical or emotional pain may be beneficial, even if it is painful. Bad experiences can teach a person to be humble, compassionate, and understanding toward others who are going through struggles. Also, Psalm 119:71 reminds Christians to find meaning and purpose in difficult experiences and turn to God for help and wisdom.
Interpretations of Psalm 119:71
Psalm 119:71 is one of the most profound verses in Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the book. A few interpretations in Psalm 119:71 are given below.
Interpretation #1 God tests people for spiritual growth
In this version, the reader believes that God sends adversity on purpose so the believer has an opportunity for spiritual growth. In the book of James, it is mentioned that God doesn’t tempt His children. However, the reader may not be able to distinguish between a test or temptation. Hence, he or she believes that God allows affliction and hardship so they can grow spiritually, which means learning life lessons, growth in understanding the purpose of life, and also continue learning the Bible. This interpretation of the verse ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ means he or she develops a deeper understanding of God’s ways through the tests given by God. They do not blame Satan or demons for the challenges they face.
Interpretation #2 God wants His followers to change their perspective
In this interpretation, the reader assumes that the psalmist is asking us to change the readers’ perspective on affliction. Here, he or she must recognize that suffering can be a source of growth and good change in their life. They must also believe that prior to suffering, a person must have had issues such as an addiction, animosity towards a person, and depending on others. Hence the verse, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ means that through challenges, a Christian can look for opportunities for growth by believing that God has chosen them to go through certain trouble. Hence, they have the possibility of learning how to survive during difficult circumstances.
Interpretation #3 Afflictions are meant to teach humility
Here, the reader understands that God chooses believers to go through life challenges to teach them a lesson, especially humility, and surrender. Hence, affliction gives the perfect opportunity for Christians to surrender their pride and self-reliance. This interpretation of Psalm 119:71 ‘The readers also recognize the importance of depending on God’s wisdom and guidance by embracing humility and surrender. So, the verse ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ encourages a believer to grow a deeper relationship with God and have a complete trust in His goodness, which in turn will help her or him to be humble in all circumstances.
Interpretation #4 God is sovereign in suffering
A possible context of the verse is likely related to the Jewish who were captive under Babylonians. Hence the Psalmist is telling the readers that the Israelites didn’t understand or accept the sovereignty or authority of God until they were suffering in captivity. Hence the verse ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ means a Christian can experience or witness God’s sovereignty during their suffering. Additionally, the psalmist also reminds the believers that even when he or she is going through hard times, God is still in control. Thus, by trusting in God’s sovereignty and goodness, a Christian can find peace and comfort amidst the most difficult circumstances.
Historical background of Psalm 119:71
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the book of Psalms, with total 176 verses. The psalm is written an acrostic style, and each section begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Also, each verse within that section also starts with the same letter. While most of the Psalms were written by King David, some scholars suggest that Psalm 119 must have been written by Daniel between 620–538 B.C. during the Israelites’ exile in Babylon. If the psalm is written by David, it can be dated between 990 B.C and 960 B.C. Psalm 119 emphasizes the importance of obedience to God, obeying the law, the value of studying scriptures, and meditating on God’s word.
Literary Devices of Psalm 119:71
Psalm 119:71 is one of the reminders that not all suffering is bad. A few literary devices used in the verse are as follows.
Theme – The major themes of Psalm 119:71 are repentance, humility, and growth. The minor themes include obedience and patience.
Assonance – The verse has good use of vowel sounds in repetition, and few are in quick succession. For example, the sound of /i/, the sound of /a/, the sound of /ee/, and the sound of /ai/ in ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’.
Consonance – The verse also has one repeated consonant sound, and few are in quick succession. For example, the sound of /t/ in ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’.
Alliteration – The verse also has one repeated consonant at the start of the word without quick succession. For example, the sound of /th/ in ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’.
Paradox – The verse is also a good example of a paradox, as the psalmist mentions ‘good’ and ‘affliction’ in a single sentence to make it appear like a contradiction, but when understood, it makes perfect sense and also creates irony.