God’s Painful Exegetical Help

In this week’s Taste & See Article, I pointed out from Psalm 119:67 and Psalm 119:71 that God sends affliction to help us learn his word.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. . . . It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

I didn't ask how affliction helps us understand God’s word and keep it. There are innumerable answers, as there are innumerable experiences. But here are five:

1. Affliction takes the glibness of life away and makes us more serious so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s word.

2. Affliction knocks worldly props from under us and forces us to rely more on God which brings us more in tune with the aim of the word.

3. Affliction makes us search the scriptures with greater desperation for help rather than treating it as marginal to life.

4. Affliction brings us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through his eyes.

5. Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame which fits God’s word more.

I pray that we will not begrudge the pedagogy of God.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.