Storms can be disorienting. This is true for ships out at sea and it’s true for us in the trials we face. We’re bewildered, surrounded by darkness, and don’t know where to turn next. The Lord does not want this feeling of hopelessness to characterize our lives. Paul calls us to “continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast” (Colossians 1:23). But how do we achieve such stability? We see in answer in the next section of Psalm 119.
In previous verses, the Psalmist has testified of facing both affliction and persecution. Some of that affliction seems to have been for the purpose of discipline (vv. 65-72). Yet in verse 92, the Psalmist says the following—
“If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.”
This affliction wasn’t discipline. It was some sort of trial or difficulty he was facing. Some surrounding verses seem to indicate it was intense persecution, whether physical or verbal (vv. 87, 95). Maybe this was the affliction he was facing. We are not completely sure.
What we do know is that the Psalmist was facing some sort of trial and affliction that almost drove him to despair of life. He said, “I would have perished in my affliction” (92), “You have revived me” (93), and “I am Yours, save me” (94). This is the immediate context of what we are looking at. Whatever the trial was specifically, it was intense, overwhelming, and almost seemed to destroy him.
Yet even in the midst of that, the Psalmist did not despair. He did not turn from the Lord. He did not give up. He speaks of delighting in God’s “law” (92), promises to “never forget Your precepts” (93), and acknowledges that he belongs to the Lord (94). How could he do that in the midst of such a trial? What gave such strength and steadfastness to his faith? The answer was not found in himself.
What enabled the Psalmist to endure the trial was his firm and complete trust in the Lord. That trust came from recognizing the Lord’s Word, and thus the Lord Himself, do not change. The Psalmist says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (v. 89). The Psalmist considered and acknowledged that God’s “faithfulness continues throughout all generations” (v. 90). He looked at how God sustains the world and the marvel of God’s power seen in creation (vv. 90, 91). And he confessed, “All things are Your servants” (v. 91). The Psalmist was not trying to cling to marshmallow fluff. He gripped the solid rock of the Lord as He presents Himself in Scripture. Yes, the trial seemed overwhelming, and it certainly was intense. Yet the Psalmist looks at God’s unchanging, enduring, steadfast care for creation throughout time. If God can create the world and sustain it, then of course He can sustain us in the midst of our trials.
That is the hope the Psalmist had. The trial may have been disorienting, but he ran to the Lord and His Word. Actually, he was already clinging to the Word before the trial came. Notice that in verse 92, he says, “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.” He was already delighting in God and His Word. It was that relationship which enabled him to hold on and endure through the trial.
We can have that same assurance in the midst of our own storms. Hebrews describes the hope we have in Christ as “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). We know Christ has saved us, and He will never let us go (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:35, 39). No matter what we may face, no matter what storm we have to go through, we are His and He holds us. He sustains us through His Word, for it is in the Bible that we learn and are assured of His unchanging character.
The storm may still be hard. Clinging to Christ does not remove the trial. But as we draw closer to Him now through the Word, we will have the strength to endure whatever may come our way. We’re not depending on ourselves. We’re clinging to the firm Rock of Christ.