Psalm 119:67
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(67) That there is allusion here to the Babylonian exile, and its moral and religious effect on the nation, there can be little doubt.

Psalm 119:67-68. Before I was afflicted I went astray — As men too generally do in their prosperity. Thou art good — Gracious and bountiful in thy nature; and dost good — To all men, both good and bad, (Matthew 5:45,) and in all things, yea, even when thou afflictest. Teach me thy statutes — Which is the good I chiefly desire.

119:65-72 However God has dealt with us, he has dealt with us better than we deserve; and all in love, and for our good. Many have knowledge, but little judgment; those who have both, are fortified against the snares of Satan, and furnished for the service of God. We are most apt to wander from God, when we are easy in the world. We should leave our concerns to the disposal of God, seeing we know not what is good for us. Lord, thou art our bountiful Benefactor; incline our hearts to faith and obedience. The psalmist will go on in his duty with constancy and resolution. The proud are full of the world, and its wealth and pleasures; these make them senseless, secure, and stupid. God visits his people with affliction, that they may learn his statutes. Not only God's promises, but even his law, his percepts, though hard to ungodly men, are desirable, and profitable, because they lead us with safety and delight unto eternal life.Before I was afflicted - The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, "Before I was humbled." The Hebrew word has the general sense of being afflicted, and may refer to any kind of trial.

I went astray - The Hebrew word means to wander; to err; to do wrong; to transgress. Numbers 15:28; Job 12:16. It here means that he forgot his duty; that he fell into sin; that he departed from what was right; that he embraced erroneous views; that he lived in the neglect of his soul, the neglect of duty, and the neglect of God. Prosperity had not led him to fulfill duty; to seek salvation; to trust in God. This was, in his case, as it is in thousands of others, the experience of his life. Hence, affliction often becomes so necessary to check us when we are going astray, and so useful in recalling us to the ways of duty and of truth.

But now have I kept thy word - Since I was afflicted. The effect has been to recall me from my wanderings, and to turn me to paths of duty and holiness. This is an effect often - very often - experienced; this is language which can be used by many a child of God. Of those who are the children of God it may be said that they are "always" benefited "sooner" or "later" by afflictions. It may not be at the time of the affliction (compare Hebrews 12:11), but the "ultimate" effect is in all cases to benefit them. Some error is corrected; some evil habit changed; some mode of life not consistent with religion is forsaken; pride is humbled; the heart is quickened in duty; habits of prayer are resumed or formed; the affections are fixed on a better world; the soul is made more gentle, calm, humble, spiritual, pure. Afflictions are among the most precious means of grace. They are entirely under the direction of God. They may be endlessly varied, and adapted to the case of every individual.

God knows every heart, and the best way to reach any heart. By sickness; by disappointment; by loss of property; by bereavement; by blighted hopes; by the ingratitude of others; by the unkindness of professed friends, and the malice of enemies; by domestic troubles; by the misconduct of children - perhaps the most severe of all human ills, and the hardest to bear; in ten thousand ways God can reach the heart, and break and crush it, and make it ready for the entrance of truth - as the farmer breaks and pulverizes the soil by the plow and the harrow, so that it shall be prepared to receive the seed. Compare the notes at Isaiah 28:24-29. Among those things for which good men have most occasion for thankfulness are afflictions; and when we lie down on the bed of death, and look over life and the divine dealings with us through life, as the glories of heaven are about to open upon us, we shall feel that among the chiefest mercies of God are those dealings of his holy hand, trying at the time, which kept us from going astray, or which recalled us when we had wandered from him - and "that in our life, now closing, there has not been one trial too much."

67. Referred by Hengstenberg to the chastening effect produced on the Jews' minds by the captivity (Jer 31:18, 19). The truth is a general one (Job 5:6; Joh 15:2; Heb 12:11). I went astray, as men generally do in their prosperity. See Deu 32:15 Psalm 73:4-6, &c.; Proverbs 1:32 Jeremiah 22:21.

Before I was afflicted, I went astray,.... From God; from his word, his ways and worship; like a lost sheep from the shepherd, the fold, the flock, and the footsteps of it; see Psalm 119:176; Not that he wilfully, wickedly, maliciously, and through contempt, departed from his God; this he denies, Psalm 18:21; but through the weakness of the flesh, the prevalence of corruption, and force of temptation, and very much through a careless, heedless, and negligent frame of spirit, he got out of the right way, and wandered from it before he was well aware. The word is used of erring through ignorance, Leviticus 5:18; this was in a time of prosperity, when, though he might not, like Jeshurun, wax fat and kick, and forsake and lightly esteem the Rock of his salvation; or fall into temptations and harmful lusts, and err from the faith, and be pierced with many sorrows, as too much love of the world brings men into; yet he might become inattentive to the duties of religion, and be negligent of them, which is a common case;

but now have I kept thy word: having been afflicted with outward and inward afflictions, afflictions of body and mind; afflictions in person, in family and estate; afflictions in soul, through indwelling sin, the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of God's face: all this brought him back again to God, to his word, ways, and worship; he betook himself to reading and hearing the word, if he might find any thing to relieve and comfort him under his trials; he observed the doctrines of grace in it, and kept the precepts of it, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of it, being restored by afflictions.

Before I was {b} afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

(b) So Jeremiah says, that before the Lord touched him, he was like a calf untamed so that the use of God's rod is to call us home to God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
67. I went astray] I did err; the word used in Leviticus 5:18; Numbers 15:28. The verse is equally applicable to Israel as a nation, taught by the discipline of exile, or to the Psalmist as an individual. Cp. Psalm 119:71; Psalm 119:75; Psalm 118:18; Job 5:17.

Verse 67. - Before I was afflicted I went astray. "Sweet are the uses of adversity." The psalmist feels end confesses that the afflictions, which he has suffered (see comment on ver. 65), have been good for him. They have made him less apt to "go astray" than he was (comp. ver. 71). But now have I kept thy Word (comp. vers. 51, 56, 87, etc.). Psalm 119:67The eightfold Teth. The good word of the gracious God is the fountain of all good; and it is learned in the way of lowliness. He reviews his life, and sees in everything that has befallen him the good and well-meaning appointment of the God of salvation in accordance with the plan and order of salvation of His word. The form עבדּך, which is the form out of pause, is retained in Psalm 119:65 beside Athnach, although not preceded by Olewejored (cf. Psalm 35:19; Psalm 48:11; Proverbs 30:21). Clinging believingly to the commandments of God, he is able confidently to pray that He would teach him "good discernment" and "knowledge." טעם is ethically the capacity of distinguishing between good and evil, and of discovering the latter as it were by touch; טוּב טעם, good discernment, is a coupling of words like טוּב לב, a happy disposition, cheerfulness. God has brought him into this relationship to His word by humbling him, and thus setting him right out of his having gone astray. אמרה in Psalm 119:67, as in Psalm 119:11, is not God's utterance conveying a promise, but imposing a duty. God is called טּוב as He who is graciously disposed towards man, and מתיב as He who acts out this disposition; this loving and gracious God he implores to become his Teacher. In his fidelity to God's word he does not allow himself to be led astray by any of the lies which the proud try to impose upon him (Bttcher), or better absolutely (cf. Job 13:4): to patch together over him, making the true nature unrecognisable as it were by means of false plaster or whitewash (טפל, to smear over, bedaub, as the Targumic, Talmudic, and Syriac show). If the heart of these men, who by slander make him into a caricature of himself, is covered as it were with thick fat (a figure of insensibility and obduracy, Psalm 17:10; Psalm 73:7; Isaiah 6:10, lxx ἐτυρώθη, Aquila ἐλιπάνθη, Symmachus ἐμυαλώθη) against all the impressions of the word of God, he, on the other hand, has his delight in the law of God (שׁעשׁע with an accusative of the object, not of that which is delighted, Psalm 94:19, but of that which delights). How beneficial has the school of affliction through which he has attained to this, been to him! The word proceeding from the mouth of God is now more precious to him than the greatest earthly riches.
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