“I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psa 119:75)
This is the Christian’s acknowledgment-fully satisfied with the dispensation of God. This is his confidence; so invigorating to his own soul; so cheering to the church. The Lord’s dealings are called his judgments, not as having judicial curses, but as the acts of his justice in the chastening of sin. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). Perhaps also; as the administration of his wise judgments in their measure and application. “O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (Jer 10:24).
But here is not only the confession of the Lord’s general judgment, but of his especial faithfulness to himself. And this he knew; not from the dictates of the flesh (which would have given a contrary verdict), but from the testimony of the word, and the witness of his own experience. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut 32:4). “Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments” (Psa 119:137). “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psa 145:17). It could not be doubted-much less denied.
The Christian says again, ‘I know, O Lord, that thy rules of proceeding are agreeable to thy perfect justice and wisdom; and I am equally satisfied, that the afflictions that thou hast laid upon me from time to time, are only to fulfil thy gracious and faithful promise of making me eternally happy in thyself.’ Blessed fruit of affliction! when we can thus “see the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy,” that his “thoughts towards us are thoughts of peace, and not of evil!” (James 5:11; Jer 29:11). “The patience and faith of the saints” teach this difficult but most consoling lesson, in deciphering the mysterious lines in God’s providence and faithfulness.
The child of God under the severest chastisement must acknowledge justice. Our gracious reward is always more: our “punishment always less, than our iniquities deserve.” (Ezra 9:13. Comp. Job 11:6). “Wherefore should a living man complain?” (Lam 3:39). In trouble he is indeed! but not in hell. If he complain, let it be of none but himself, and his own wayward choice. I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and who can doubt the wisdom? Who would charge the operator with cruelty, in cutting out the proud flesh, that was bringing death upon the man? Who would not acknowledge the right judgment of his piercing work? Thus, when the Lord’s painful work separates us from our sin, weans us from the world, and brings us nearer to himself, what remains for us, but thankfully to acknowledge his righteousness and truth? Unbelief is put to rebuke; and we, if we have indulged suspicion “that God hath forgotten to be gracious,” must confess, “This is our infirmity.” (Psa 77:7-10).
This assurance of the Lord’s perfect justice, wisdom, and intimate knowledge of our respective cases, leads us to yield to his appointments in dutiful silence. Thus Aaron, under his most afflictive domestic calamity, “held his peace” (Lev 10:1-3). Job under a similar dispensation was enabled to say-“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21. Comp. 2:10). Eli’s language in the same trial was, “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Sam 3:18). David hushed his impatient spirit-“I was dumb; I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” And when Shimei cursed him, he said, “Let him alone; let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him” (Psa 39:9; 2 Sam 16:11,12). The Shunamite, in the meek resignation of faith, acknowledged-“It is well” (2 Kings 4:26). Hezekiah kissed the rod, while it was smiting him to the dust: Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken” (Isa 39:8). Thus uniform is the language of the Lord’s people under chastisement. I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right.