Psalm 119:67
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept your word.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(67) That there is allusion here to the Babylonian exile, and its moral and religious effect on the nation, there can be little doubt.

Psalm 119:67-68. Before I was afflicted I went astray — As men too generally do in their prosperity. Thou art good — Gracious and bountiful in thy nature; and dost good — To all men, both good and bad, (Matthew 5:45,) and in all things, yea, even when thou afflictest. Teach me thy statutes — Which is the good I chiefly desire. 119:65-72 However God has dealt with us, he has dealt with us better than we deserve; and all in love, and for our good. Many have knowledge, but little judgment; those who have both, are fortified against the snares of Satan, and furnished for the service of God. We are most apt to wander from God, when we are easy in the world. We should leave our concerns to the disposal of God, seeing we know not what is good for us. Lord, thou art our bountiful Benefactor; incline our hearts to faith and obedience. The psalmist will go on in his duty with constancy and resolution. The proud are full of the world, and its wealth and pleasures; these make them senseless, secure, and stupid. God visits his people with affliction, that they may learn his statutes. Not only God's promises, but even his law, his percepts, though hard to ungodly men, are desirable, and profitable, because they lead us with safety and delight unto eternal life.Before I was afflicted - The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, "Before I was humbled." The Hebrew word has the general sense of being afflicted, and may refer to any kind of trial.

I went astray - The Hebrew word means to wander; to err; to do wrong; to transgress. Numbers 15:28; Job 12:16. It here means that he forgot his duty; that he fell into sin; that he departed from what was right; that he embraced erroneous views; that he lived in the neglect of his soul, the neglect of duty, and the neglect of God. Prosperity had not led him to fulfill duty; to seek salvation; to trust in God. This was, in his case, as it is in thousands of others, the experience of his life. Hence, affliction often becomes so necessary to check us when we are going astray, and so useful in recalling us to the ways of duty and of truth.

But now have I kept thy word - Since I was afflicted. The effect has been to recall me from my wanderings, and to turn me to paths of duty and holiness. This is an effect often - very often - experienced; this is language which can be used by many a child of God. Of those who are the children of God it may be said that they are "always" benefited "sooner" or "later" by afflictions. It may not be at the time of the affliction (compare Hebrews 12:11), but the "ultimate" effect is in all cases to benefit them. Some error is corrected; some evil habit changed; some mode of life not consistent with religion is forsaken; pride is humbled; the heart is quickened in duty; habits of prayer are resumed or formed; the affections are fixed on a better world; the soul is made more gentle, calm, humble, spiritual, pure. Afflictions are among the most precious means of grace. They are entirely under the direction of God. They may be endlessly varied, and adapted to the case of every individual.

God knows every heart, and the best way to reach any heart. By sickness; by disappointment; by loss of property; by bereavement; by blighted hopes; by the ingratitude of others; by the unkindness of professed friends, and the malice of enemies; by domestic troubles; by the misconduct of children - perhaps the most severe of all human ills, and the hardest to bear; in ten thousand ways God can reach the heart, and break and crush it, and make it ready for the entrance of truth - as the farmer breaks and pulverizes the soil by the plow and the harrow, so that it shall be prepared to receive the seed. Compare the notes at Isaiah 28:24-29. Among those things for which good men have most occasion for thankfulness are afflictions; and when we lie down on the bed of death, and look over life and the divine dealings with us through life, as the glories of heaven are about to open upon us, we shall feel that among the chiefest mercies of God are those dealings of his holy hand, trying at the time, which kept us from going astray, or which recalled us when we had wandered from him - and "that in our life, now closing, there has not been one trial too much."

67. Referred by Hengstenberg to the chastening effect produced on the Jews' minds by the captivity (Jer 31:18, 19). The truth is a general one (Job 5:6; Joh 15:2; Heb 12:11). I went astray, as men generally do in their prosperity. See Deu 32:15 Psalm 73:4-6, &c.; Proverbs 1:32 Jeremiah 22:21. Before I was afflicted, I went astray,.... From God; from his word, his ways and worship; like a lost sheep from the shepherd, the fold, the flock, and the footsteps of it; see Psalm 119:176; Not that he wilfully, wickedly, maliciously, and through contempt, departed from his God; this he denies, Psalm 18:21; but through the weakness of the flesh, the prevalence of corruption, and force of temptation, and very much through a careless, heedless, and negligent frame of spirit, he got out of the right way, and wandered from it before he was well aware. The word is used of erring through ignorance, Leviticus 5:18; this was in a time of prosperity, when, though he might not, like Jeshurun, wax fat and kick, and forsake and lightly esteem the Rock of his salvation; or fall into temptations and harmful lusts, and err from the faith, and be pierced with many sorrows, as too much love of the world brings men into; yet he might become inattentive to the duties of religion, and be negligent of them, which is a common case;

but now have I kept thy word: having been afflicted with outward and inward afflictions, afflictions of body and mind; afflictions in person, in family and estate; afflictions in soul, through indwelling sin, the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of God's face: all this brought him back again to God, to his word, ways, and worship; he betook himself to reading and hearing the word, if he might find any thing to relieve and comfort him under his trials; he observed the doctrines of grace in it, and kept the precepts of it, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of it, being restored by afflictions.

Before I was {b} afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

(b) So Jeremiah says, that before the Lord touched him, he was like a calf untamed so that the use of God's rod is to call us home to God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
67. I went astray] I did err; the word used in Leviticus 5:18; Numbers 15:28. The verse is equally applicable to Israel as a nation, taught by the discipline of exile, or to the Psalmist as an individual. Cp. Psalm 119:71; Psalm 119:75; Psalm 118:18; Job 5:17.Verse 67. - Before I was afflicted I went astray. "Sweet are the uses of adversity." The psalmist feels end confesses that the afflictions, which he has suffered (see comment on ver. 65), have been good for him. They have made him less apt to "go astray" than he was (comp. ver. 71). But now have I kept thy Word (comp. vers. 51, 56, 87, etc.). The eightfold Heth. To understand and to keep God's word is his portion, the object of his incessant praying and thanksgiving, the highest grace or favour that can come to him. According to Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26, the words חלקי ה belong together. Psalm 119:57 is an inference drawn from it (אמר ל as in Exodus 2:14, and frequently), and the existing division of the verse is verified. חלּה פּני, as in Psalm 45:13, is an expression of caressing, flattering entreaty; in Latin, caput mulcere (demulcere). His turning to the word of God the poet describes in Psalm 119:59 as a result of a careful trying of his actions. After that he quickly and cheerfully, Psalm 119:60, determined to keep it without any long deliberation with flesh and blood, although the snares of wicked men surround him. The meaning of חבלי is determined according to Psalm 119:110 : the pointing does not distinguish so sharply as one might have expected between חבלי, ὠδῖνας, and חבלי, snares, bonds (vid., Psalm 18:5.); but the plural nowhere, according to the usage of the language as we now have it, signifies bands (companies), from the singular in 1 Samuel 10:5 (Bttcher, 800). Thankfulness urges him to get up at midnight (acc. temp. as in Job 34:20) to prostrate himself before God and to pray. Accordingly he is on friendly terms with, he is closely connected with (Proverbs 28:24), all who fear God. Out of the fulness of the loving-kindness of God, which is nowhere unattested upon earth (Psalm 119:64 equals Psalm 33:5), he implores for himself the inward teaching concerning His word as the highest and most cherished of mercies.
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