Psalm 116 is attributed to David and is a psalm of praise for the Lord’s deliverance. One can readily see these words escaping from David’s pen as he hides in the wilderness from Saul or as he flees for his life from his son Absalom.
Verses 1-2 are a plea for help as well as the assurance that God has heard David’s cry. “I love the Lord, because He has heard…” (1). As Christians, we need to rest assured that we serve a God that hears our cry when we are in trouble. We do not serve a god made by the hands of men as Paul spoke before the Athenians. We have a God who is acutely interested in the welfare of His children.
In these two verses, David mentions two responses that should come from the Lord’s care: Love and devotion. Verse one again states, ““I love the Lord, because He has heard…”. Verse two concludes by saying, “I will call upon Him as long as I live”. Seeing that we have a God that inclines His ear to us, do we serve Him with love and devotion? Or are we fair-weather friends to our Lord and Savior?
David’s plea for deliverance is found in verses 3-4. Notice that the phrase “I called upon the name of the Lord” is found four times in this psalm (vs. 2, 4, 13, 17). As Christians, we need to appreciate the fact that our God answers calls. The sentiment of the word “implore” is akin to the idea of begging for deliverance. David is not specific about the trouble that has come upon him. How many of us could interject our own troubles here? Though we may not be running for our lives as David, relationships with others, financial burdens, health problems and our own struggles with sin seek to grind us to powder. How many of us can identify with David’s pleading with the Lord?
In verses 5-9, David extolls the attributes of a hearing God. First, David says, “Gracious is the Lord” (5). We need to appreciate that across the covenants we have a God that is full of grace. God could easily deliver us up to what we deserve but instead He chooses to act out of love on our behalf just as a father would toward his own children. Second, not only is the Lord gracious but He is “righteous” (5). Since God’s character is right, His actions towards us are always right. Third, David states that, “our God is merciful” (5). “Merciful” is defined as “to love, love deeply… be compassionate…” (Blue Letter Bible). Matthew states that “when (Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (9:36). I appreciate greatly the fact that when I am in need I have a God whose heart is moved within Him to act on my behalf.
Fourth, the Lord is a preserver. Verse 6 says, “The Lord preserves the simple.” “Preserve” carries the meaning of “to keep, guard, to keep watch” (BLB). The idea is that of God setting a guard around those who are weak and frail to keep them from being overcome by the enemy. Though Job was beaten down, the Lord’s eyes were always on His servant. Though Jesus wept in sweat like blood, the Father send His angel to minister to Him. We too can have confidence that in the midst of trials, God’s promise holds true as the Hebrew writer penned, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (13:5).
Finally, the Lord is our Savior — “He saved me” (6) — and Deliverer — “You have delivered my soul from death” (8). The word “save” means “to liberate” as a city that has been under siege by the enemy has been set free. “Deliver” means “to remove” or “draw out” (BLB), as perhaps from the jaws of a hungry lion. How often do we feel on the cusp if being consumed by our problems, our lions? How many times has the Lord delivered us from them? Do we have the confidence that He will deliver His children from others to come?
Instead of taking such a gracious Lord for granted, David sets His life in order to fully serve Him. First, David stated, “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (9). David committed himself to following the ways of the Lord and fully consented to have his life inspected by the all-seeing eye of the Lord for blessings and corrections.
Second, David said that “in the presence of all His people” (14), “I will take up the cup of salvation” (13). This is the idea of showing one’s appreciation for the salvation the Lord has provided him. Do we make it known to others of our appreciation for the Lord’s deliverance in our lives whether physically or spiritually? Do you think God takes pleasure in a silent Christian?
Third, the psalmist affirmed that he would “call upon the name of the Lord” (13). Can people both within the Body and in the world see how we rely upon the Lord? Where better to “call upon the Lord” than in the assembly of the saints? Yet, how often do we neglect to gather for this purpose?
Fourth, David said, “I will pay my vows to the Lord” (14). Though Scripture warns us against making vows but to “let our ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’, ‘no’” (James 5:12), let us recall our confession of faith and submission to baptism and examine ourselves as to whether we are truly fulfilling our commitment to Him.
Fifth, notice that though verses 13-14 and 17-18 are parallel, verse 17 differs in that David adds, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Thankfulness ought to be the appropriate result of receiving God’s grace. Yet, how often are the halls of heaven silent and devoid of the ringing of thankfulness even in the face of answered prayers? Christians ought to be the most thankful of all the peoples of the earth.
David concludes his psalm with three words that should be etched forever in the mind of the child of God: “Praise the Lord!” (19). Praise the Lord for His deliverance! Praise the Lord for His salvation! Praise the Lord forevermore!