The Word of God in Times of Trouble
“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (v. 50).- Psalm 119:49–56
Where should we go in times of trouble? For the Christian, the answer is easy—we should go to Jesus Christ. If we are weary and heavy laden, we can go to Him and find rest for our souls, as His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matt. 11:28–30). He is the One in whom we find strength to do all things (Phil. 4:13).
We find Christ in the heavenly places, where we may enter boldly, not arrogantly, if we are in Him (Heb. 10:19–22). There He speaks to us, not through esoteric visions but through His Word. In His Word, He gives us what we need to find sustenance in the day of adversity.
This has been the confession of God’s people throughout the ages. Even the old covenant people of Christ found sustenance in the Word of Christ even though they lived long before His advent and did not know Him with the same clarity that we do as new covenant believers. After all, if Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1–18) and the Old Testament is God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16–17), then the old covenant Scriptures are no less the Word of Christ than are the new covenant Scriptures. Thus we find the psalmist in today’s passage finding comfort from the promises of God that he possessed in the Old Testament. In like manner, we find comfort in the fuller revelation of Jesus, who fulfills the old covenant Scriptures.
As is true of the rest of Psalm 119, today’s passage has the law of God as its primary concern, although what the psalmist says can be extended to all of the Lord’s inspired Word (vv. 52–55). This Word, the author tells us, has been the source of his comfort in his affliction. In fact, he says that God’s promises give him life (v. 50). The only means of access that the psalmist had to the Lord’s promises was the Old Testament; thus, there is in Psalm 119:50 a strong affirmation of the power and efficacy of God’s Word. By means of His Word, the Lord brings life to His people—first in conversion, when the Holy Spirit makes the “word of truth” real to us and enables us to trust in His revelation (James 1:18), and then throughout the Christian life as we who are regenerate continue to receive His promises in faith (v. 21).
God’s Word assures and sustains the psalmist through its confirmation of the Lord’s sovereign, undefeatable will to save His people and by reminding him of the Creator’s faithfulness to His covenant people. It reminds him that God blesses those who are faithful to Him, so those who walk before Him in integrity can be confident that He will see them through any adversity (vv. 55–56).
John Calvin writes, “If we meditate carefully on [God’s] word, we shall live even in the midst of death, nor will we meet with any sorrow so heavy for which it will not furnish us with a remedy.” God’s Word assures us that if we are faithful to Him, He will bless us (Deut. 28:1–14), but it also gives us the good news that though we are incapable of being perfectly faithful to Him, He is faithful to us. He has given us Christ, in whom all blessings are guaranteed for those who rest in Him alone.
Passages for Further Study