Jesus–Righteous, Afflicted, Deliverer (Psalm 34:19-22)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. –Psalm 34:19-22
One of the great tensions, both in the Bible and in life, is the suffering of the righteous. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Of course, theologically, we might respond to that question by saying, “Well, there are no good people.” Romans 3:10 tells us “None is righteous, no, not one…” And while that might work to help explain a lot of the suffering in this world, it doesn’t help us understand Psalm 34:19 which says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous…”
There was one Person who was truly good, completely righteous; yet He suffered greatly. The Bible calls Him “A man of sorrows” and one who was “acquainted with grief.” In Isaiah 53:9-10, we see that “…he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him…”
Today I want to consider how these verses in Psalm 34 would have been a tremendous comfort to Him. We know that Jesus memorized Scripture, and this passage in particular would have been comforting to Him. Time and again, as Jesus endured unjust suffering, He may have run to these verses to remind Himself that, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19).
Jesus understood that He was the true Passover lamb and, because of that, He knew that he would suffer, yet He also knew that God would “Keep all his bones…” so that “not one of them is broken” (John 19:31-36). As the Passover lamb, Jesus came to “redeem the life of his servants” so that “None of those who take refuge in him would be condemned.”
In John 3:17, Jesus says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” And who exactly is Jesus talking about when He says He came “So that the world might be saved through him?”
He is talking about sinners. He is talking about the wicked. Paul, who once hated the righteous and gave himself to persecuting the church, says it like this: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
The Passover lamb was slain so that the wicked might be forgiven. The Son of God was condemned so that in Him those who “once hated the righteous” might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
But Jesus didn’t stay dead. No, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” That is why, three days later, God raised His Passover lamb from the dead and Jesus walked out of the tomb on bones that had not been broken. And now He ever lives to “redeem the life of his servants (so that) none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” Jesus says it like this in John 6:40: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
It’s true, “many are the afflictions of the righteous” but you can know for certain that the Passover lamb of God was slain so that He could deliver His people from them all. The Son of God died and rose again to ensure that “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
How do you think that these verses may have brought comfort to Jesus particularly as He was suffering at the end of His life?
In what ways do we see the promises of these verses fulfilled in Jesus’ life?
How would your approach to suffering change if you truly believed that God had a plan to deliver you just like He delivered Jesus?
Practically, what would it look like for you to take refuge in God in whatever affliction you are currently going through?