Reading the Word
Psalm 34:17–22 (ESV)
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 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.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Reading these verses in isolation, we may think that they teach something that they do not. An incorrect understanding would be to think that these verses are saying that bad things do not happen to righteous people. After all, “the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” But this is not the message of Scripture.
To understand these verses requires a BIG picture understanding of the Bible. God’s word teaches us that we are living in a fallen word and, as a result, we all face pain and suffering and troubles of various kinds. It is the reality of the world we live in. However, God is redeeming this fallen world through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus died as a payment for the sins of mankind and all who acknowledge their sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness will be saved.
Saved from what? Condemnation. God’s word tells us that one day all will stand before God and give an account. Those who have not trusted in Christ and are still in their sin will face eternal condemnation. Those who have trusted will be with Christ forever in a new creation with no more sin or suffering or pain or death. God saves the brokenhearted who call out for refuge in him.
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