Learning from Temptation and PainThe ninth stanza's lines all start with the Hebrew letter "teth" which looks like a coiling and twisting serpent. One can't help but wonder if the Psalmist had Adam and Eve and the tempting serpent in mind when he wrote this stanza...
For Adam and Eve, the results of giving into temptation were banishment from the Garden of Eden and the brokenness that was unleashed in the world.
This stanza has has two references to the theme of affliction and it appears that the psalmist sees the painful times in his life as opportunities to bring him back to God's Word. It could very well be that the psalmist drifted into a sinful lifestyle which had negative outcomes for him. These consequences and outcomes showed him that God's Word and the warnings it gives were valid and important.
But... now that he is "back on track", he finds himself in a situation where he is being attacked by the arrogant (even though he's walked blamelessly) and it seems he is being tempted to give up the "good fight". He leans heavily on God's word to carry him through this time. To him God's Word is more precious than silver or gold.
As he faces the coiling serpent of temptation, God's Word teaches the Psalmist two things:
- Going astray can lead to negative consequences.
Scripture has numerous warnings about this.
- God's Word can "school" us when we face temptation so that we can stay on track.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Psalms119:67-72)