Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous,
lest the righteous put forth their hand unto iniquity.”
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
It is undeniable that the wicked can afflict the righteous. It happens all the time, and it has happened throughout history. The Bible is full of stories of the righteous being maltreated by the wicked. The promise that God has made is not that the rod of the wicked will never touch the righteous but that it will never rest upon the righteous. In other words, the rod of the wicked will not afflict the righteous perpetually until it drives him beyond his power to endure, but it will be removed when our heavenly Father has accomplished His wise purpose for it being there. It makes me tremble to know what God can choose to do, using the rod of the wicked. When Job lamented, “The thing I greatly feared has come upon me,” he was lamenting the fact that God had chosen to use the rod of the wicked against him.
God’s rod comforts us, but it takes some humility to confess, when we are being persecuted, or even chastened, that God is using the wicked as His rod. How could we ever be comforted by the rod of the wicked unless we commit ourselves completely to the Lord, trusting Him to be the one who determines when we suffer, how we suffer, and how long the suffering must last?
Solomon said, “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” In other words, God uses humans to try other humans, Solomon’s point being that God will use evil men to try the faith of righteous men. But David’s point in Psalm 125:3 is that those wicked men are not in charge of what happens to the righteous. They may want to do us the damage they attempt to do, but nothing can be done unless our loving heavenly Father determines it shall be. And it will end when He determines it will end, and not before. Many times, wicked men wanted to kill Jesus, but they could not because “his time was not yet come.” But when God determined it was time for His Son to die, a wicked man, such as Pontius Pilate, could not prevent Jesus’ crucifixion, even though he wanted to. It was God’s appointed time for Jesus’ crucifixion, and as Christ said to the Father through David, “All my times are in your hand.”
God has tried no one beyond his power to overcome. No one among the saints has ever suffered more than he has been able to bear. God knows our limitations, and He designs our sufferings so that if we stand fast in faith, our sufferings will only make us stronger and wiser; they have no power to destroy us; God never sends that degree of affliction into our lives. Every soul who has fallen into sin and unbelief during times of trial has done so because he rebelled against the hand of God and chose the wrong path; he was not pressed by God beyond his ability to bear the pressure.
When the upright suffer, it is only for a season, and it is always for a good, healing purpose. And if we stay humble and do the will of God even when we are hurting, the time will come when we will be thankful for the pain that God used to perfect our hearts. God may choose to use the wicked to afflict the righteous, but after the trial is over, He will destroy the wicked and take the righteous up into His comforting bosom, closer to them than ever, and they will be satisfied.