Psalm 116 (1) I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. (2) Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. (3) The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. (4) Then I called on the name of the LORD: "LORD, save me!" (5) The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. (6) the LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. (7) Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. (8) For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, (9) that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (10) I trusted in the LORD when I said, "I am greatly afflicted"' (11) in my alarm I said, "Everyone is a liar." (12) What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? (13) I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. (14) I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. (15) Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. (16) Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. (17) I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. (18) I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, (19) in the courts of the house of the LORD- in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.
Psalms 113-118 are called the Egyptian Hallel psalms and are sung during Passover as a time to remember God’s mercies and power when He saved His children from the bonds of slavery in Egypt, went before them and provided for them as they wandered in the wilderness, and then finally brought them home into the Promised Land. Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the Passover meal, and Psalms 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. Hallel is the Hebrew word for Praise.
Psalm 116 is titled I Love the LORD (ESV), Thanksgiving for Escaping Death (ICB), Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death (NKJV), Thanks to God for Deliverance (HCSB), among others. The theme is the psalmist’s personal deliverance from suffering and death. As the song was sung during the Passover, the personal suffering of the psalmist became a way to remember God’s providence and deliverance for all.
The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was the culminating story of God’s faithfulness throughout the Old Testament. As time when on from there, the people needed reminders to remember God’s mercy, love, and great power. We all need to reminders to remember God’s faithfulness to us. When we feel He isn’t listening or He isn’t responding, we need to remember how He was faithful.
If He was faithful, He will be faithful. Doubt has a way of creeping into our hearts, but God calls us to have faith in His faithfulness.
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the culminating story of God’s faithfulness in the New Testament- and from the beginning to the end of the Bible. Jesus is the beginning and the end. He was there in the beginning, during Creation; He will return for a great battle in the end when God redeems His children and Jesus ultimately destroys the hold that evil has on the world.
The Alpha and Omega.
"Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Revelation 22:12-13 NLT
When we study the Egyptian Hallel, we also remember that Jesus sung these songs the night He was betrayed. During the Last Super- also the Passover meal- Jesus taught His disciples to break bread in Holy Communion and they sang these songs together.
It is well that we remember the voice of Jesus in these psalms.
I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:1-2 NLT
The psalmist has a relationship with God. God knows him. God hears him. God bends down to listen to him. Like a loving Father, God takes a knee to hear His child speak and to wipe away tears. God answers our prayers, and we love Him for it. But more than anything, we need Him to listen. And He does.
Praise the Lord. Hallel.
Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "Please, LORD, save me!" How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the LORD's presence as I live here on earth! Psalm 116:3-9 NLT
One Bible scholar explained Psalm 116 this way: imagine this one man or woman who has come to the temple with tears in his eyes and a story on his lips. He speaks of a terrible encounter with death. He speaks of fear and a cry for help. The crowds gather around to hear his story. He stops to speak of God’s kindness and goodness and mercy; how God heard his cries for help. He was at the end of his strength, his faith that of a child calling to his father for help, and God saved him! As the people listened to his story of salvation, he proclaimed God’s love and faithfulness. God saved him, provided for, and protected him; and now he would sing of God’s mercy.
Psalm 116 is one man or woman’s story. But it became the story of a nation.
Because of the Lord’s provision, the psalmist made this declaration: “And so, I will walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!”
Why has he chosen to walk in the presence of the Lord? The “and so” sends us back a verse. The psalmist will walk with the Lord because the Lord “saved him from death,” “his eyes from tears,” and “his feet from stumbling.” Whatever happened, the Lord not only healed him, but also walked beside him, so closely that His presence was felt with a touch.
Likewise, Jesus sang these words on the night He was betrayed. The night that He knew would lead to suffering and death. Yet He still sang these words.
Once again we are moved that Jesus sang these words with His disciples on the night of His betrayal and arrest. Knowing all the suffering set before Him, Jesus sang with confidence of His deliverance from His coming death, His coming tears, and falling under the weight of the cross soon to come.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
I believed in you, so I said, "I am deeply troubled, LORD." In my anxiety I cried out to you, "These people are all liars!" Psalm 116:10-11 NLT I believed, therefore I spoke, "I am greatly afflicted." I said in my haste, "All men are liars." NKJV I believed, so I said, "I am completely ruined." In my distress I said, "All people are liars." ICB I kept on believing, even when I said, "I am completely crushed," even when I was afraid and said, "No one can be trusted." GNBDC
Psalm 116:10-11 are hard to understand, but reading the different translations helps. The Apostle Paul spoke of these verses in his letter to the church in Corinth:
It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 2 Corinthians 4:13-14 NIV
Even in the midst of suffering and fear, the children of God must believe. And not only that, but they must speak. We must speak of our struggles and of our faith in God’s deliverance. Even when God does not deliver, we hold fast to faith, and we speak of it.
I believed therefore I spoke: Full of faith, the psalmist trusted God in the depth of his distress. He was a shadowy preview of the greatest faith, demonstrated by Jesus among His disciples before the cross.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
What can I offer the LORD for all he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the LORD's name for saving me. I will keep my promises to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Psalm 116:12-14 NLT
All we have to give God is our praise. We praise the Lord for His faithfulness and His love. We praise the Lord in the presence of others. This is what the psalmist was doing when he or she could not contain themselves and just had to tell the story of God’s grace. Which is what the Israelites did- and do- every Passover at the end of the meal, they sing this song and remember God’s faithfulness.
But we all ask this question, don’t we? What do I have that is worthy of God? God has given me so much. What can I give Him so that He knows I love Him, and that I am thankful?
The psalmist pledges praise in the presence of God’s people, maybe in the temple, maybe at home, or when he walks the streets, or wherever he can get an audience. He promises to sing of the Lord’s provision.
When Jesus sang this song, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord,” He gave His will over to the Father. That “cup of salvation” was for us.
The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die. O LORD, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people- in the house of the LORD in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the LORD! Psalm 116:15-19 NLT
Though death is a curse and an enemy, it is still precious because it removes the remaining barriers between God and His saints, and is the doorway to an eternity of perfect fellowship.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
The psalmist has told his story of God’s faithfulness, now he reclaims a commitment to God. “I am your servant.” Verse 16 is also a powerful reminder and encouragement for parents:
Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. Psalm 116:16 NIV
The psalmist remembers where he learned his faith; his mother taught him. Other versions say; “the son of Thy handmaid” or “the son of your maidservant.” The reminder? Speak and teach of the Lord every day, everywhere, as often as we can, because we have the honor, the privilege, and the great responsibility of teaching the next generation. And God is watching.
The psalmist repeats his promise to praise and speak about God’s faithfulness. He will continue to tell the story, and, wow, did he ever. His song became a national song of deliverance and sung for generations during the Passover meal. As sung by Jesus the night He was betrayed.
Praise the LORD.
Father in heaven, thank you for the story of your redemption for one man or woman that became a national story and reminder of your deliverance of the people from Egypt. Thank you for your faithfulness throughout time, for the promises in your word, and for Jesus’s death and resurrection that made a relationship directly with you possible. Give us strength and hope and joy today. Amen.