Conviction and encouragement seem nearly inseparable in God’s Word. Where there is one, the other cannot be far away. In reading Psalm 119:143-144, I was struck by this truth yet again.
“Trouble and anguish have come upon me, yet Your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live,” writes the Psalmist. I find this passage convicting largely because my sin nature finds no pleasure in reading the Bible. I confess, I often read the Scriptures daily because I should, rather than because I love to. Granted, I do turn to my Bible for comfort when I am troubled or discouraged. But how often do I truly delight in it – rejoicing in the very breath of God (2 Tim. 3:16)? How often, when the hard times come, do I exult in the God of my salvation (Hab. 3:17-19)?
I am convicted also on account of my pride. The psalmist records truly that only God can grant understanding, and thus life; my sinful soul desperately wants to believe that I can save myself.
Yet, in the very words which reprove me I find such blessed encouragement! The Word of God is something to glory in. Even when “trouble and anguish…come upon me,” I may delight in the sweet testimonies of my God. In the midst of my greatest difficulty, the Word of my Lord comforts me and lifts me.
In the same way, I would be spiritually dead if God had not granted me understanding. That is not terrible in the least – it is a beautiful manifestation of God’s grace towards me, a sinner. I can and should truly rejoice that He is the only one who can save me from myself, rather than bemoan the fact that I am helpless apart from Him.