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Summary: What causes the psalmist to break out in his expression of love? The salvation of the Lord. Close to death, the Lord delivered him.

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Psalm 116:1-19 The Cup of Salvation

4/20/00

Introduction

Some of you may have picked up in the order of service that we are going through the six psalms of ascent sung by pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. As would have been traditional, Jesus and his disciples most likely sang these psalms during the Last Supper as part of the Passover meal.

I love the LORD! What a great way to begin a psalm. What a refreshing statement: I love the LORD! Do you know how many times that phrase reappears in the scriptures? Once. In Psalm 18:1, David says, I love you, O Lord.. That’s it.

The idea of loving God appears many times, to be sure. Oftentimes we are commanded to love the Lord. Many times the biblical writers and people in the Bible express their delight in the Lord. But this verse and Psalm 18:1 are the only times someone just outright says, “I love the Lord.”

What causes the psalmist to break out in his expression of love? The salvation of the Lord. Close to death, the Lord delivered him.

3 The cords of death entangled me,

the anguish of the grave came upon me;

I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling,

9 that I may walk before the LORD

in the land of the living.

It would seem that the cause was illness rather than peril from enemies. But whatever the case, he has been restored to well-being.

Consider his reflections on the Lord in light of his deliverance from death. The Lord is one who hears.

for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me,

God listens because, though he is holy and dwells in a high and holy place, yet he is merciful and gracious. Verse 5:

5 The LORD is gracious…

our God is full of compassion.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD

is the death of his saints.

But the Lord is not just a good listener. He is not simply a good-hearted God. He takes action.

6 The LORD protects the simplehearted;

when I was in great need, he saved me…

8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,

This is an important point. It is nice to have another person’s sympathetic ear. But sympathy can only do so much. And actually, in some cases sympathy can make one’s discouragement only worse. If you appeal to someone whom you expect to have the power to make your condition better and all you receive is sympathy, then you have greater reason to be discouraged. Either that person is too weak or not moved enough to act. To know that God looks upon us with kindness, but cannot help, will lead us to resent the Lord, not love him. But the Lord is able and he will act according to what is right and good. Note verse 5: The LORD is gracious and righteous.

Consider the psalmist’s reflections about himself. He was weak and discouraged.

the anguish of the grave came upon me;

I was overcome by trouble and sorrow (3).

He was in tears and as one stumbling in weakness and confusion (8). He identified himself as being simplehearted (6), that is, with being a small person with no merit. He was afflicted and dismayed (10,11).

In other words, he was helpless. He could not help himself, nor could he look to others. Indeed, in his suffering he had despaired of the help of men: 11 And in my dismay I said,

“All men are liars.”

But there was one thing he possessed, and that was faith in the Lord to save.

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:

“O LORD, save me!”

Through that faith, salvation came.

What do we see in the psalmist’s reflections about him? We see the true love and faith he possessed. We saw it in his troubles, and we see it in his deliverance. He does not forget the Lord in his good health and in his secure feelings. He knows that the peace he now has is of the Lord.

7 Be at rest once more, O my soul,

for the LORD has been good to you.

This also is an important point to make. We can fail in our faith in two ways. One is to lack faith in our troubles, turning from the Lord instead of to him. Another is to drop faith when it doesn’t seem to be needed, forgetting that we are always under his care. But the psalmist remembers his Lord both in his bad times and his good times.

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