Scriptures

Psalm 116

Introduction

Psalms 113-118 are often referred to as the Hallel psalms, these were sung on festive occasions, such as at Pentecost, the feast of Tabernacles, and the feast of Dedication. These were psalms of adoration to the Lord which commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Psalms 113-114 were sung before the meal and Psalm 115-118 were sung after the meal. This was probably the hymn which our Saviour and His disciples sung at the conclusion of the Passover supper, Matthew 26:30 / Mark 14:26.

This is a psalm which is very personal to the psalmist and he just pours out his heart to God. It appears that God delivered him from some disease and so, he gives thanks to God for delivering him.

Heading

‘The psalmist professes his love and duty to God for his deliverance.’

The NIV doesn’t offer a heading for this psalm, but the KJV does. Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us this psalm was written in order that the psalmist can profess his love and duty to God for delivering him.

‘I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!” Psalm 116:1-4

The psalmist begins by declaring his love for God because God heard his prayer and his cry for mercy, Psalm 5:1 / 1 John 4:19. As a result of God answering his prayer, he is determined to call upon God all the days of his life.

The psalmist looks back at where he was when he was sick, he felt close to death, he felt he was about to die, Psalm 16:10 / Job 10:21-22 / Isaiah 14:9 / Acts 2:24. In his distress and sorrow, he called on the Name of the LORD in faith and asks the LORD to save him.

‘The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I trusted in the LORD when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.’ Psalm 116:5-14

It appears that God not only heard his prayers and his cries for mercy, but also healed him. as a result, he now praises God because of His graciousness, righteousness and compassion. All these attributes were poured out on the psalmist because of his prayer for help, Hebrews 11:6.

He declares that the LORD protects the unwary, God protected him when he was brought low. In other words, he did nothing to heal himself, it was all God’s doing, it was God who saved him, Proverbs 1:22.

God has removed his distress and sorrow and now his soul has rest because the LORD was good to him in healing him. He felt he was about to die from his sickness, but God saved him from death.

In his sorrow and distress he wept and he had no strength in his feet, he couldn’t walk before the LORD like those who were still alive in the land. But now because God has delivered him from death, he can confidently walk again along the living, Isaiah 38:20.

As a result of his healing, despite his afflictions, he has complete trust in God, 2 Corinthians 4:13-14. When he was distressed and filled with sorrow, he said that ‘everyone is a liar’, in other words, he felt that no human being was reliable to help him, Psalm 41:5-9 / Psalm 88:18 / Job 19:13-17.

He now wonders what he can give to God in return for His goodness, Luke 17:12-19. He says he will lift up the ‘cup of salvation’. The cup of salvation could be referring to the drink offering, which has given as a thanksgiving offering, Exodus 29:40 / Leviticus 23:37 / Deuteronomy 32:38 / Ezekiel 20:28.

We also think of the cup of salvation which Jesus instituted in the New Testament, Luke 22:20 / 1 Corinthians 10:16.

The Lord had saved him from death, brought joy again to his life and kept him from falling and as a result, he stood faithful in fulfilling his vows to the Lord, Psalm 79:8.

He wouldn’t only carry out his vows that he made in sickness, he would do so publicly in order to proclaim that God had restored him, Isaiah 38:15 / Isaiah 38:20.

‘Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD—in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.’ Psalm 116:15-19

The psalmist, despite being delivered from death, declares that all of God’s faithful servants, when they die, are precious in God’s eyes. God is the one who gives people life and when one of His own dies, He notices. The psalmist also declares that he truly is one of God’s servants, Exodus 21:5-6.

It appears because he has been given a second chance in life, that is, freed from his deathly sickness, he is determined to rededicate his life to the LORD.

He is determined to offer a thanksgiving offering to the God and in His Name. He is also determined to fulfil his vows publicly, in the courts of the Lord’s house, Psalm 65:4 / Psalm 84:2 / Psalm 92:13 / Psalm 96:8 / Psalm 100:4 / Psalm 135:2, and in Jerusalem where the tabernacle was located.

Because God had delivered him from the hands of death by healing him of his life threatening disease, it’s no wonder he ends with the words ‘praise the LORD’, that is, Hallelujah.

Conclusion

The psalmist declared his thankfulness to God for saving him from his life threatening illness.

As Christians we often have to go through many trials and difficulties in our lives, but how often do we stop to praise God whilst we’re going through those difficult times? How often do we actually praise God afterwards for delivering us from those times?

When we praise God in the midst of our difficulties, our praise actually brings many spiritual benefits for us.

1. When we praise God, it helps us to focus on God and not out difficulties, Psalm 35:28.

2. When we praise God, it helps us remember that those difficulties will help become stronger, James 1:2-4.

3. When we praise God, it helps us to remain humble, Psalm 35:18.

4. When we praise God, it prevents us from moaning about out difficulties, Hebrews 13:15.

5. When we praise God, it helps us recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Psalm 22:3.

Go To Psalm 117

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:6

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