“Remember, O Lord, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured.” – Psalm 132:1
Afflictions on the godly make them better, but afflictions on the wicked make them worse. In times of afflictions, the godly pray more–“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord” (Psalm 130:1), but the wicked blaspheme more–“Men were scorched with great heat and blasphemed the name of God” (Rev. 16:9).
The affliction of the godly is like bruising spices, which are most sweet and fragrant, but the affliction of the wicked is like pounding weeds, which makes them more unsavory.
When affliction or death comes to a wicked man, it takes away his soul. When affliction comes to a godly man, it only takes away his sin–“We are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32).
Affliction works out sin and works in grace.
It is a heart-quieting consideration, that in all the afflictions that befall us, God has a special hand in them—“The Almighty has afflicted me!” (Ruth 1:21).
Instruments can no more stir until God gives them a commission than the axe can cut of itself without a hand.
Job eyed God in his hardships–he does not say, “The Lord gave and the devil has taken”, but “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” Whoever brings an affliction to us, it is God who sends it.
Afflictions work for our good. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” (Psalm 119:71). Joseph’s brethren threw him into a pit and afterwards they sell him. Then he is cast into prison, yet all this worked for his good–“You thought evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
King Manasseh was bound in chains, which was sad to see–a crown of gold exchanged for fetters. But it was used for his good, for “So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!” (2 Chron. 33:11-13). Manasseh was more indebted to his iron chain than to his golden crown because the one made him proud, but the other made him humble.
– Thomas Watson