Psalm 116 (NIV)
Paying the Vow of Gratitude
I have much to be thankful for! I was raised in a secure home by believing parents. I attended church regularly and learned to love Jesus and the Word of God. I graduated from Wheaton College. I have lived in interesting places in the USA, Europe, the Near East (Jerusalem!), and the Far East. I have three wonderful children and three even more wonderful grandchildren, plus dear ones on my husband’s side. I am happier in my marriage with David than I can express. I am part of a church that takes God seriously, on a beautiful island in the Atlantic Ocean. I have beloved friends around the world.
But today I must say there is another great thing for which I am thankful: early in 2009 Sue Awes asked me to consider writing a Bible reading blog, a chapter of the Bible a day, named “DWELLING in the Word.” The idea was very appealing! My first post was Genesis 1 on May 4, 2009. Little did I think that nine and a half years later I would be putting up post number 2,500!
How can I begin to say what it has meant to my heart and my mind to be DWELLING in God’s Word every day? The joy of finding the right commentary, the best pictures, helpful accompanying material to round out our understanding of each passage, good songs! The joy of being reminded each day of God’s power, God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s patience, God’s forgiveness, God’s majesty, God’s faithfulness, God’s goodness.
Thank you, Sue! Thank you, readers! Thank you, my dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
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.
“My resolve is to trust God exclusively and worship him explicitly.”
–Derek Kidner (British OT scholar, 1913-2008)
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!”
The Lord does not stand at a distance when his people suffer. His salvation is close at hand.
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.
“Not only is God gracious, he is also gracious to the little people, to the plain, to commoners, to the everyday person on the bus or in the shop—to people like the psalmist. That is one of the great glories of our God. When Jesus called his disciples, he called fishermen and tax collectors. When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they appeared to shepherds.”
–James Montgomery Boice (author and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for more than 30 years, 1938-2000)
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.
Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”
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.
“They shall not die prematurely; they shall be immortal till their work is done; and when their time shall come to die, then their deaths shall be precious. The Lord watches over their dying beds, smooths their pillows, sustains their hearts, and receives their souls.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon (English author and the “Prince of Preachers” from London, 1834-1892)
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
(missionary to India who served 55 years without a furlough, 1867-1951)
Psalm 116:15-17 — Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Thy servant . . . Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Sometimes even Christians write of death in a sad way. “We regret to announce,” they say. The Salvation Army people are right in the way they put it: “Promoted to Glory.”
Just after “Precious in the sight of the Lord” comes “Thou hast loosed my bonds.” Think what a loosening that loosening is! No wonder the next words are, “I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.”
But those words first refer to the loosening of all bonds of sin. If anyone is conscious of any such bond, ask for it to be loosened now. Live as God’s loosed ones.
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 known as “Egyptian Hallel” psalms (Hallel simply means “Praise Yahweh!”), thus they were written as praises that were sung in connection with the Passover meal and other Hebrew festivals and reflect upon God’s redemption of his people, particularly from their bondage in Egypt. In the context of the Passover celebration, Psalms 113 and 114 typically would have been sung before the Passover meal and Psalms 115-118 would have been sung afterward. It is most likely these were the psalms that Jesus and his disciples sang after the Last Supper.
Every Christian should read this Psalm with the atonement of Jesus in mind. Christians cannot help but praise God for such a wonderful gift—the gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus. Will you look upon the Psalmist and emulate His cry: “I love you LORD”? Are you willing to commit yourself to Him without reservations?
Paying the vow of gratitude — “How can I say thanks / For the things You have done for me?” HERE is “My Tribute,” written by Andrae Crouch and sung here by the Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebo.