After the study someone asked me to then help them understand Psalm 34:19.
Psalm 34:19 (KJV) Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
My quick answer was that the righteous are certainly not promised a life free of afflictions, or adversity, but God promises never to leave or forsake us.
Hebrews 13:5 (HCSB)5 Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.
Meaning that Christians, the righteous, are to derive their comfort from God's own presence and provision, for he neither leaves them nor fails them.
However after thinking about that quick answer, I thought “well the psalmist, David, did say that the Lord “delivers him from them all”, so maybe I need give more of an more of an answer to the question.”
This post is that answer.
Let’s start with some definitions and then we’ll try to put them in the context that David wrote the psalm. Remember David wrote the Psalm in the Hebrew language.
Affliction - noun - something that causes pain or suffering.
Righteous - adjective - morally right or justifiable; virtuous.
Deliver - transitive verb - to set free
Affliction - Transliteration: raʿ - from <H7489> (ra`a`); bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral) :- adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease (-ure), distress, evil ([-favouredness], man, thing), + exceedingly, × great, grief (-vous), harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, + not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st), wretchedness, wrong. [Incling feminine ra`ah; as adjective or noun.]
English Words :evil, wickedness, wicked, mischief ,hurt, bad, trouble, sore, affliction, ill, adversity, favoured , harm ,naught, noisome, grievous, sad
Righteous - Transliteration: ṣaddîq - from <H6663> (tsadaq); just :- just, lawful, righteous (man).
English Words:righteous, just, righteous man, lawful - Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
Deliver - Transliteration: nāṣal - a primitive root; to snatch away, whether in a good or a bad sense :- × at all, defend, deliver (self), escape, × without fail, part, pluck, preserve, recover, rescue, rid, save, spoil, strip, × surely, take (out).
English Words :deliver, recover, rid, escape, rescue, spoil, at all, take out
Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
First let’s look at the context of the statement in the Psalm. In the first six verses David praises God for His goodness, then in verses 7-10 he encourages people to seek God and trust Him. In verses 11-14 he counsels against sin. Beginning at verse 17 David discusses the way that God deals with the righteous in his adversities.
Back to our definitions. The righteous refers to those individuals who are in right standing with God. That right standing comes through God’s grace given by faith and Jesus’ work of salvation through His death on the cross. Those who acknowledge this sacrifice as payment for their sins are then declared righteous.
Romans 5:1-5 (KJV)1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Now that we know who the righteous are let’s look at the first part of the statement that is that the righteous have many afflictions. Jesus Himself said this;
Mark 8:34 (HCSB)34 Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
John 16:31-33 (KJV)31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Now to the part of the statement that says that the Lord delivers the righteous from all their afflictions. What about the believer who dies of cancer without being healed; what about the believer who has financial difficulty after losing a job; what about David whose family was a catastrophe; what about Paul who was martyred; what about Peter who it is said was crucified upside down; what about you and me; what about Jesus?
Let’s take a look at Jesus. This is the next verse is Psalm 34.
Psalm 34:20 (KJV)20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
This verse speaks directly about Jesus and is prophetic;
John 19:33-36 (KJV)33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
Jesus was and is “the righteous”. Jesus certainly had many afflictions, certainly more than you or me, from men, from Satan, and even God.
Matthew 27:46 (KJV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
When was Jesus delivered from all His afflictions? He, in fact was killed. That, in my opinion was a big affliction. He was not delivered until after His death when He was resurrected and then ascended to sit at and God’s right hand.
We too face afflictions. Ours may be different from Jesus’. Ours may be sickness, loss of material things, friends, dishonor, and persecution. At times we don’t think that we will be able to bare them. But the Lord will give us the strength to handle them if we let Him. He never allows anything to come upon us greater than we can bear
1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV)13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
He gives us the strength to do it all through Christ.
Philippians 4:11-13 (KJV)11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Yes the Lord does deliver the righteous from all their afflictions but, like our brother Jesus, that complete deliverance may not happen until we are with Him.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (KJV)6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
I now have to revise my earlier statement that we are not promised to be released or delivered from everything because God does ultimately deliver the righteous from all our adversities. We aren’t promised release but we are promised deliverance. Just maybe not how or when we want it, but it will come.
Revelation 21:1-4 (KJV)1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.