Greatly Have They Afflicted Me

David Bast

Read: Psalm 129

May all who hate Zion be put to shame. (v. 5)

Picture yourself at the temple along with a congregation of pilgrims. The worship leader begins a song with a call and response, a solo voice singing, “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,” then the congregation responds, “Let Israel now say,” and repeats the refrain. So the song is really about the story of the people of God, not just the psalmist’s individual suffering. For almost its whole history, Israel has been mistreated and abused, going all the way back to its “youth” in Egypt. But her enemies have not prevailed (v. 2). The Lord is righteous (v. 4). He remembers his covenant promises. He cuts the cords that bind his people and delivers them from their enemies.

The people of God are still persecuted in many places today. I have a picture of a young Christian man that shows the furrows ploughed on his back by the whips of the Iranian secret police. His crime was giving Bibles to those who asked for them. Why are some people so hostile toward believers? What have the Christians of Egypt or Pakistan done that makes some want to blow them up or shoot them in their churches? Why such hatred?

Perhaps the only explanation is the one Jesus gave: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you . . . because you are not of the world . . . therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). —David Bast 

As you pray, remember your fellow believers who are suffering for their faith today.