I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant. Let Your tender mercies come to me that I may live; for Your law is my delight. (Psalm 119:75–77—NIV)

The Christian is given such divine and eternal promises at his conversion that one would wonder if there will ever again be a bad day for the new believer. All too soon experience proves otherwise. Problems with sin, people, and events start to unfold in such a way that the believer’s faith is soon sorely tested. Be assured that testing is not some experiment on the part of God to provide proof to Him that this believer is genuinely in the fold and a recipient of eternal life. God needs no proof that His work has been effective. What He has begun He will complete.

Afflictions of life tend to prove the metal of the faith of a convert for the benefit of the convert’s trust in God, and he gains assurance that God did indeed include him among the redeemed. Right response to afflictions lends ready assent to the genuine faith already in residence in his heart. It attests that the faith is ever growing in its strength and bravery.

Our passage is a prayer putting into words this process of strengthening faith in David. As trials come his heart grasps some simple principles which help carry him through and comfort floods his soul. It is striking that David does not focus on Satan’s testing and grievous works. I believe Christians today give far too much credit to our Adversary. It may help us feel like a warrior to give Satan credit, but let God fight that battle. Our focus should be akin to David’s, namely, He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. God is still Sovereign and so let us wrestle with the issues of life in concert with the superceding plan of the Almighty God. Sure, we have an enemy of our soul, but Scripture is plain, Satan can do nothing without a release from God and only to the extent God allows. The faithful believer is never outside of the protective custody of God.

David first reminds us that God calls the shots, and they are always on the mark of His plan. Whatever events wash over the believer, the afflictions are from the loving-kind hand of his heavenly Father. God is ever faithful—David’s faith fixes on this simple point. He trusts Jehovah (the Covenant-keeping God), in all His omni-sapience, to rightly direct the circumstances of David’s life exclusively in fidelity to His faithfulness. Matthew Henry tells us, "the surest token of God’s good will toward us is His good work in us."

In verse 76, David asks that God see too it that His faithful work not go unnoticed as he searches for comfort in the middle of the trial. After all, this is what God has promised throughout His Word. His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness! David’s conviction of God’s faithfulness is so strong that he does not ask to be released from the affliction, instead he asks for the palpable comfort which God has promised. There is often more personal value in the comfort from God rather than the release from God.

His third thought builds on these two concepts (that God is faithful in affliction and that He is faithful in love). He requests that God’s sincere, unfaltering love reach its object. He desires that the evidences of God’s compassion not pass him by. In anticipation of the reception of God’s tokens of His love David reiterates that he is obeying God’s Word. No one can navigate the afflictions of life without saturation in the Word and faithful adherence to God’s precepts. What can you do today to be better equipped to trust and obey when the next trial arrives on your doorstep?