65 You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
69 The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70 their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.ESV
Five lines in this stanza begin with the word good (ṭôb). In verse 65 the psalmist remembers how the Lord has dealt well (ṭôb) with him in the past. “As he reviews how the Lord has dealt with him in the past, he recognizes that the Lord has treated him well. What the Lord has done has lined up with what he has said, as he has been true to his promises” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 416). The Lord will never deal with us in a manner that violates His Character, Word and Covenant.
After remembering what the Lord has done in the past, the psalmist in verse 66 commands/petitions the Lord to teach (piel, imperative 2ms with 1 cs suffix) him good judgment and discernment. The Lord’s judgment is always best; hence why the psalmist is an eager student of the Lord, believing in His commandments. What the psalmist is asking here “is a practical prayer for spiritual growth and not just the best information” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 523).
The psalmist reflects on his past commitment to the Lord and reveals that before he was afflicted he went astray (v 67). Estes notes the Hebrew word for astray “šgg likely speak[s] of inadvertent sin. He then was afflicted by God, a process that had led to his repentance and restoration…The Lord used the pain of adversity to purge the psalmist of his waywardness, and he has now returned to keep the Lord’s word” (Estes, p. 417).
The Lord is good and He does good (v 68a). The Lord doing good is a hiphil, participle whereby the Lord is always doing good. The psalmist again petitions to be taught (piel, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) His statutes (68b). “This teaching could come through the ministry of priests who were to teach the laws of God (Deut. 33:10); but it could also include the LORD’s impressing the reality and significance of his word on the heart of the psalmist in times of meditation (see Ps. 16:6–7)” (Ross, p. 524).
In verses 69-70 the psalmist contrasts the insolent smearing him with lies to his keeping the Lord’s precepts with his whole heart. “The hostility of the arrogant people who have afflicted the psalmist creates a contrast to the Lord’s goodness” (Estes, p. 417). The psalmist also compares the heart of the insolent as unfeeling or gross with fat but that he delights in the Lord’s torah (law/instruction). The psalmist’s “value system is totally antithetical to theirs…They are diseased, but he is robust and well. They are insensitive, not feeling or caring about what matters to God; but the psalmist delights in God’s instruction” (p. 417).
And here in verse 71 the psalmist has his Job moment (see 42:1-6), proclaiming how it was good for him to be afflicted so that he could learn the Lord’s statutes. Affliction often keeps pride away, it humbles and teaches us how to depend on the Lord. We learn how sufficient His Word is in times of trials and hardships. Robert Alter states, “Suffering impels reflection, which in turn leads the sufferer to embrace God’s teaching as the guide to turning his life around” (The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, 2007, p. 425). Estes continues this stating, “[The psalmist’s] painful route through the school of hard knocks likely took a significant amount of time, but the psalmist has come to rejoice in the precious results in his life produced through adversity (cf. Jas 1:2–4)” (p. 417).
The psalmist ends this stanza with language similar to Proverbs where wisdom/torah has infinitely more value than riches (v 72 see Proverbs 3:14; 8:10; 16:16). The psalmist knows firsthand how nothing is better than the Lord and His Word. Gold and silver do not do good, only Yahweh Himself is good and does good. “[T]he Lord is implicitly viewed here as the teacher of wisdom and the psalmist as the student who has chosen to value the words of the Lord his teacher above all the material riches craved by the world” (Estes, pp. 417-418).
Lord God, may we say along with Job and the psalmist that it was/is good for us to be afflicted so that we might know Your Word. Lord God, may we crave Your Word more than riches. Lord, while affliction is never pleasant nor easy may we never forget how Jesus suffered. Lord God, may we not make light of others suffering, may we be quick to listen and hear about the sufferings of others. Lord God, may we not dwell on our sufferings but glorify You through them. As You know Lord this world is becoming more and more hostile and insolent to Your people. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are Good, You do Good and that You will never cease being who You are. Lord God, may the person reading this who does not know Christ seek Him today while there is still time. For the reader who is in Christ, Lord God may they remember how You dealt well with them in the past and may they seek to be Your student and servant in the present. Lord God, thank You and praise You for this reader. Lord may we love and honor You well. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.