Today: [Psalm 116] God Hears Your Voice and Responds. Psalm 116 is unique in that is may have been written as late as 250 years before Christ. It is the testimony of a man who was in deep trouble but God came through for him. He writes throughout the psalm and make reference to himself and his situation 37 times. He professes that God came through for him in a difficult situation and what his commitment to God was because of answers to prayer he receives.
[Psa 116:1-19 KJV] 1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice [and] my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon [him] as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious [is] the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God [is] merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Some scholars date the addition of Psalm 116 to the scripture as late as 250 years before Jesus’ birth. It is without a title in the Hebrew language and it contains a language structure that suggested it was crafted by Hellenized Jews living in Egypt just a few centuries before Christ. Also it contains many partial references and passages from other psalms leading one commentator to term it “the patched up psalm”. The occasion of the writing of the psalm according to one ancient commentator is the persecution of the Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes during the intertestamental times of the Maccabbees.
Does the possible late date of the psalm indicate it is not inspired? The Apostle Paul quotes from it in 2 Corinthians 4:13 – therefore securing its place securely in the canon. The psalm is very personal from the position of the writer. The author refers to himself 37 times in just 19 verses. Therefore we can see it as much as a personal testimony as anything else. Verse 1 begins with the simple yet eloquent profession “I love the Lord!” Now if someone asks you if you love the Lord your response might be reflexive “why of course I love the Lord…”. This statement by the author in verse 1 is much more than this. His love is more than a religious sentiment. God has impacted this man’s life and he is attempting to distinguish his love for God by contrast from the dry, emotionless protestations of love made by those who merely profess religious fidelity to God.
Why does the man love the Lord? Because God heard his prayers! He goes on to describe the very sorrows of death and going through hell in a circumstance that God came through for him in the midst of. Have you ever been through so much pressure that you didn’t want to go on living? Have you ever felt that trouble and sorrow were the only thing waiting upon you when you opened your eyes to go about your day? Sometimes this type of pressure may not be accompanied by any particular event in your life. Depression and anxiety can haunt someone without any evident justification in their situation. Friends look at them and say “what’s wrong with you? Just get over it!” God never disdains you when you are down, even if you are feeling sorry for yourself. He sees your pain and like a good Dad He offers the consolation of Christ to help you through and see you upheld by His Spirit.
Verse 6 observes that God preserves the simple. The writer found himself brought low and God helped him. Have you ever been in the midst of a trial and tried to get super spiritual so that God would hear your prayer? The Christian book market is full of books that bait this kind of wrong thinking. They offer convoluted and sophisticated suggestions as to how to approach God in such a way as to assure your prayers will be answered and your situation will change. None of that matters. God will help the simple person. You do not have to use complex formulas in prayer or adopt ritualized, stilted language in order to get His attention. He knows your every thought. The simplicity of prayer is:
1. Know God’s will regarding your situation (based on the scripture).
2. Return God’s will to Him in prayer.
3. See God perform His will in response to your determination to humble yourself in supplication to Him.
Verse 7 tells us what to do after we prayer. Return to your rest. There is a place and a time to pray out something going on in your life. There is also a time that you rest your case in God. This is what the old timers call “praying through to the assurance”. It isn’t necessary once you have prayed to continue on in anxiety and fear of the circumstance. Rest your case in God. If you are still worrying, then you aren’t done praying. It isn’t that God is not connecting with you but you need the assurance of knowing that you have gotten through. Prayer is the activity of one who needs to “get hold of God” and rest their case in Him. Then you exercise the patience whereby you possess your soul and receive your answer in due season.
10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: 11 I said in my haste, All men [are] liars. 12 What shall I render unto the LORD [for] all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. 14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD [is] the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, truly I [am] thy servant; I [am] thy servant, [and] the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 10 says “I have believed, therefore have I spoken”. There is a connection in this psalm with the passage in Romans 10 that constitutes the verses we base the sinner’s prayer on:
[Rom 10:6-10 KJV] 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down [from above]:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
It is important to verbalize prayer. I have believed and therefore have I spoken. Modern culture has suggested that prayer is to be so private as to suggest we are never verbal in our faith or allow any profession at all to come out of our mouth. The enemy wants to silence you. It has been said that prayer that is never verbalized is not prayer but mere wishful thinking. Let your mouth prayer. Rest your case in God. Profess your trust in God. Let others see that before anything changes you were living your life in anticipation that God was coming through for you.
Verse 11 makes a unchaste accusation that all men are liars. The writer admits that he spoke too quickly. The fact of the matter is that all men are not liars. You may be surrounded by people who disappoint you on every turn but that doesn’t mean there is no godly witness. Elijah thought that and felt sorry for himself. He thought he was the only one left to serve God but the Father showed him that there were many thousands who had not bowed their knee to Baal. There is power in agreement. They may be few and far between but there are fellow believers you can communicate with who will stand by you and strengthen your faith till your answer comes.
Verse 16 says that the writer will serve God because the Father loosed the chains of bondage to his life. In other words God looses us from the chains of sin and condemnation so that we can become his bond servant. This gets lost in the seeker sensitive model of evangelism. People go through the motions of giving their life to Christ as savior but no emphasis is placed on His Lordship. Paul called himself a bond servant to Christ. When you come to Christ they don’t hand you a little bobble head Jesus to put on your dashboard. You were sold under sin but now you have been bought with the price of the shed blood of Calvary. Serve the Lord in your spirit, your soul and your body.
Verse 18 speaks of paying your vows to God. Giving your life to Christ is a vow like the vow you took when you got married. When you get married that is a vow that will have implications in your life for the rest of your life – even if the marriage ends in divorce or in death. Solomon understood something about the spiritual impact of a vow in our lives:
[Ecc 5:4 KJV] 4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for [he hath] no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
James tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. That word resist means that He sets His forces in array against the proud. Let us remember who we are serving. God is a gracious and a patient God but He will not always strive with an individual, or group, or a nation. Many times when trouble comes and crisis looms for one person or a nation it is because God says “that will be enough of that…” Be sure when these times come that you are on the right side of history (either the history of a nation or your personal history) but bowing your life to the will and purposes of God our savior.
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