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The Righteous Will Suffer?

December 29, 2009

Psa 34:19 NASB
(19)  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

I looked up the word “delivers” because this verse seems contradictory. On the one hand, it is saying that the righteous will have many afflictions. On the other hand, it says that they will be delivered from those afflictions.

I don’t know about you, but I have heard the idea of being delivered as being “preserved from”. In other words, we are delivered from having to go through afflictions. Or, that they afflictions may come, but they are very quickly dispatched with. But is that really what this verse is saying?

The word used there for “delivers” has several meanings. Brown-Driver-Briggs says this:

H5337

nâtsal
BDB Definition:
1) to snatch away, deliver, rescue, save, strip, plunder
1a) (Niphal)
1a1) to tear oneself away, deliver oneself
1a2) to be torn out or away, be delivered
1b) (Piel)
1b1) to strip off, spoil
1b2) to deliver
1c) (Hiphil)
1c1) to take away, snatch away
1c2) to rescue, recover
1c3) to deliver (from enemies or troubles or death)
1c4) to deliver from sin and guilt
1d) (Hophal) to be plucked out
1e) (Hithpael) to strip oneself
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Same Word by TWOT Number: 14
04 נצל

We are clearly IN the afflictions…especially that one that mentions “sin and guilt”! I look at words like “rescue”, “snatch away”, “recover”, “to be plucked out”.  All of these do indicate a removal  of us from the problem, while not eliminating the possibility of the problem being removed from us.  (I think of how our Abba might move us away from a contentious neighbor…or He might move the contentious neighbor away from us.) Either way, it is clear that we do go through at least some part of the many afflictions.

It also seems to indicate that the deliverance may come from outside of ourselves or might be something we do. After all…some afflictions are things we can do something about…like changing jobs when the work environment is unsafe. What it does NOT say is how quickly this will be accomplished. So, I looked further.

Strong’s has this to say:

H5337
נצל
nâtsal
naw-tsal’
A primitive root; to snatch away, whether in a good or a bad sense: –  X at all, defend, deliver (self), escape, X without fail, part, pluck, preserve, recover, rescue, rid, save, spoil, strip, X surely, take (out).

Notice that word in there…”preserve”? That means that, no matter how long it does take for delivering to happen, we will be preserved through it. Preserving is another aspect of delivers…but it is one that I think we all would rather not think about. It is much nicer to think of being delivered right away and not having to go through much affliction.

What about that word “many”? That word does not sound very encouraging. Looking again at B-D-B:

H7227
רב
rab
BDB Definition:
1) much, many, great (adjective)
1a) much
1b) many
1c) abounding in
1d) more numerous than
1e) abundant, enough
1f) great
1g) strong
1h) greater than
1i) much, exceedingly
2) captain, chief (noun masculine)
Part of Speech: see above in Definition
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: contracted from H7231
Same Word by TWOT Number: 2099a, 2099b

Yikes! There is no question about the meaning of that word. You see that related word…H723. Well, here is Strong’s definition of that word:

H7231
רבב
râbab
raw-bab’
A primitive root; properly to cast together (compare H7241), that is, increase, especially in number; also (as denominative from H7233) to multiply by the myriad: – increase, be many (-ifold), be more, multiply, ten thousands.

Did you catch that? “Multiply”, “increase”, etc.? No doubt about it…the righteous WILL suffer MANY afflictions! And we see it all around us. Most likely, you have gone through them yourself…or are even now. Take heart! Always remember that word “preserve”!

I did a search on the Hebrew word used for “afflictions”.  Interestingly, it only mentions things like “mischief” and evil and wickedness…all things that people do to one another. A quick look through the verses that use that word confirms that. So…these “afflictions” talked about in this verse are things that others do against us.

So…the righteous WILL suffer many afflictions from other people (and dare I say…our spiritual adversary, too). However, our heavenly Abba/Father WILL snatch us out of them. And, until He does, He WILL preserve us through them. We need to take heart and trust in our heavenly Abba. Nothing happens that He does not either allow or cause.

We also have this promise:

Rom 8:28 NASB
(28)  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

I strongly encourage you to read that whole chapter. Of course, the whole book of Romans is good…as is the whole of the Holy Scriptures it comes from. You can read that chapter here:  Romans 8

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