The psalm we are looking at is written by David in the context of his near death escape at the hands of a Philistine king. David is humbled by the affliction as he contemplates it, and his instructions for us are in view of the Lord’s mercy and deliverance. Verses 11-22 speak of the path of those who walk with the Lord.

Verse 11 reads, “Come, O children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” David then proceeds to teach that fear of the Lord is characterized by turning from evil to doing good. David isn’t specific, but the point is that that affliction or trouble should draw us closer to the Lord and prompt us to turn from sin.

Affliction is common to all men, but that which brings instruction with it is a mark of God’s fatherly love. It is the truth of Scripture that God’s rod and God’s love may stand together. It is good to be thankful for deliverance from affliction, but it is dangerous to the soul to be contented with it without added instruction.

Thomas Case writes, “If you can be assured in your own soul that God has taught you as well as chastened you, you are a blessed man.” It is a sad thing when men come out of affliction the same as they went in; when they continue to be worldly, proud, ignorant, impatient, bitter, as much strangers to Christ as before.

Christians, of course, are still sinners, and conviction of sin drives us to Christ and leads us to humble prayer, beseeching the Holy Spirit for wisdom and aid. A thorn in the flesh has its purpose, and teaching-affliction is part of God’s grace. The humble pray, ‘Lord keep down my sins, and keep up my heart to honor you in all circumstances.’

Another thing common to the path of the righteous is the great contrast between those who belong to the Lord and those who do not. Verse 15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.” Verse 18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

On the other hand, verse 16 warns, “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth,” and verse 21, “Those who hate the righteous will be condemned.” We are shown here two different paths that lead to two different destinies. This is a common theme of Scripture (see the Sermon on the Mount).

It does the soul good to face the just judgment of God. What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Scripture speaks plainly concerning the unrighteousness of man. Sinners are not simply imperfect or broken. Sinners are characterized by language such as wicked, chaff, vipers, stubble, wolves, and such.

Paul teaches Christians, “We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another (Titus 3:3).” Christians believe they justly deserve God’s displeasure and judgment. The gospel is good news because Christ saved them; thus they don’t receive what their sins deserve.

Those outside of Christ will receive what their sins deserve. To “cut off their memory from the earth,” means they have no part in the inheritance of the righteous.  “Depart from me you workers of iniquity” will be a common reframe in judgment. There is no peace for the wicked. The misery that will attend the unrighteous is far greater than any affliction in this world.

There is a vast gulf between those in Christ and those outside of grace.  Verse 20 reads: “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken,” John 19:36 quotes this at the time of Jesus death.  When the Romans were going to break his leg to speed up death, he had already given up his life. He was divine, so he chose his own timing.

He also was a servant of God.  God preserves his people in life and death. Christians are called by God to be conformed to Christ, to become servants of God like Christ. Verse 22 reads, “The Lord redeems the life of his servants, none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”