Five verses in the section begin with the Hebrew word for “good.” (In the page layout, these words appear in bold print. The three verses that do not begin with “good” are indented.) The message is clear: God is good, his word is good, the life he gives me is good.
This is true even though that life includes affliction, as shown in verse 67 (which speaks of the corrective benefit of affliction) and 69-70 (which describe a specific affliction faced by the psalmist). Verse 71, finally, states outright what verse 67 hints, that it’s not just that the good in life outweighs the affliction, but that the affliction itself is part of the good. For the servant of God, affliction is a blessing, since it turns him to God’s word. The psalmist never says that affliction is pleasant or unpainful; he doesn’t even go so far as to say that it is sent by God. He does affirm, though, that it works for his good (compare Rom. 8:28).
It’s not easy to attain the attitude of verse 71, even in the face of life’s minor disappointments. How many of us have have ever spoken from this perspective?
It’s good for me that I was cut from the basketball team.
It’s good for me that my ears are too big.
It’s good for me that I got a B- in a class where I deserved an A.
It’s good for me that my manuscript was rejected
. . .that I didn’t get that promotion
. . .that my co-workers are gossiping about me.
It is a good thing–it really is–that life doesn’t always go our way. All these things work to push us closer to him. For the servant of God, it’s all good. Believe it.
Hebrew scholars tell us that the “good judgment” the psalmist requests in verse 66 is, literally, “taste.” He’s asking for the ability to sense right and wrong immediately–as we judge food by its taste–so he can shape his actions accordingly.
And the commentators agree that though the simile of a heart “as fat as grease” does not occur elsewhere in the Bible, it probably refers to a lack of sensibility or a hardness of heart. These are just people that it’s hard to get through to, people who do not understand and do not care kind what of damage their actions cause to others.
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