Psalms 116:1–4, 12–19: I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, save my life!” 12 What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 14 I will pay 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 ones. 16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay 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, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
Summary – Psalm 116 is a deliverance Psalm which is cited in the New Testament in several places (2Cor. 4; Rom. 3). It pictures the righteous man who loves the Covenant Lord and calls out to Him. This man is trapped, snared in death, but He calls for God to save him and deliverance comes. The writers asks, how can I repay the Lord? The answer is lifting up the cup of salvation and paying vows in the presence of the people. This Psalm includes a beautiful verse regarding the death of believers: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.” The psalmist uses this to note, “O LORD, I am your servant.” In other words, my death is very precious. The writer will offer sacrifices of thanksgiving in the House of the Lord. The shape of this Psalm is very Messianic. God delivers Jesus from the cords of death (after death) and Jesus lifts up the cup of salvation with His disciples on the day of resurrection.
Insight – Many people today use credit cards and so get something we want and then pay for it later (not always a good way to do it). We may have to pay in installments over months (or years) to “pay off” what we have received. The idea of “repayment” is one of the strong themes in this Psalm. It is the response of the psalmist to the Lord’s rescue and deliverance. “What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me?” God’s goodness and mercy is so overwhelming, how can I repay Him? But of course there is no repayment of grace or else it is not grace at all, it is “works.” The answer of the psalmist shows the true nature of delighting in the Lord. The psalmist will delight in the cup of salvation. He will give thanks with joy in the presence of the people of God. Paying vows with a thanksgiving sacrifice meant a sacrificial meal which was a way to give thanks to God for His goodness. Since in the is rite, the sacrificial animal must be eaten on the same day (Lev. 7:15), this implies (given the amount of food) that it required family, friends, and even the poor, to participate in this celebratory meal. When we realize the salvation-deliverance that we have in Christ, we too can only respond with joy and thanksgiving at the Table of the Lord. Our “repayment” in joy in Christ and a heart of thanks.
Child’s Catechism – How do we repay the Lord for our salvation? We cannot repay Him; we can only rejoice and give thanks in His presence.
Discussion – What are some celebratory meals that your family enjoys? Do they have a mood of thanksgiving? If not, plan one.
Prayer – Collect for Third Sunday of Easter – O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.