Tuesday, April 02, 2024

2024.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 116:10–19

Read Psalm 116:10–19

Questions from the from the Scripture text: Why did the psalmist speak (Psalm 116:10a)? What did he say in his faith (verse 10b)? And how else did he speak (Psalm 116:11a)? And what did he say in his haste (verse 11b)? What does the psalmist want to do (Psalm 116:12a)? Why (verse 12b)? What (seemingly odd?) two part answer does he give in Psalm 116:13a, verse 13b? When does he intend to fulfill this resolve before God (Psalm 116:14)? Among whom does he do those two things (verse 14b)? What is precious, in Whose sight (Psalm 116:15)? So, how does this particular saint see his life (Psalm 116:16)? What new vows does he make in Psalm 116:17, in light of the Lord’s taking him as slave and delivering him from all other bondage? When will he pay these new vows (Psalm 116:18)? To Whom? Among whom? In what house (Psalm 116:19a)? And what city (verse 19b)? What concluding exhortation shapes the Psalm as a whole (verse 19c)?

What can a saint give to God? Psalm 116:10–18 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that saints “give” God the worship in which it is God Who blesses them. 

Crying out to God is an expression of faith, not unbeliefPsalm 116:10-11. There is a wrong-headed, man-centered idea that real faith stoically grits its teeth rather than crying out under affliction. But it is the Object of our crying out (cf. Psalm 116:2Psalm 116:4) that makes the opposite true. The psalmist says that the reason that he spoke is that he believed (Psalm 116:10a)! He cried out to God, because he was certain that God is there, that God hears, that God cares, that God knows what to do, and that God can answer. 

Prayer lays hold of so many divine attributes at once; it embraces God as God. Prayer is the essence of worship; worship as a whole, in Scripture, often goes by the title, “called upon the Name of the Lord.” This is one reason that it is a great wickedness to pray to any saint or any other creature whatsoever. 

And it is also the reason that real faith doesn’t agonize in stoic silence but cries out in its affliction (Psalm 116:10). Real faith is sometimes quite urgent in its crying out to the only One Whom we know will be true (Psalm 116:11, cf. Romans 3:4).

The true and living God is so Self-sufficient and generous that He is “repaid” by blessing His servants even more, Psalm 116:12-14. When I was a child, there were ads that asked, “what do you get for the man who has everything?” For the grateful worshiper, this is a very telling question (Psalm 116:12). If we could add anything to God, supply any need, improve His position or His glory, then He wouldn’t be God (cf. Psalm 50:10–12; Luke 17:10). 

The wealth of our God finds expression in His generosity. He is “repaid” in Psalm 116:13 by the delivered saint taking up the cup of salvation and calling upon YHWH’s Name. How glorious are the greatness and the goodness of the true God (cf. Romans 11:35–36)!

Let us remember this, when we make vows to Him. They are not vows such as we end up doing great things for Him, but such that He sustains us in what we do, and gives us an infinitely great thing (Himself!) in the midst of our doing them and in response to our doing them. True religion can never be burdensome, for what it “carries” (literally, in the original) is the “cup of salvation.” It is like a child who asks his father what he can help with, and his father says, “here, carry this,” as he hands the child a great treasure that is the child’s own inheritance.

God willingly lays out great riches to redeem His saints from deathPsalm 116:15-16Psalm 116:15 is one of those verses that gets cheapened (literally) by so frequently being considered apart from context. Truly, God’s saints are dear to Him at the time of His death, and He watches over them ever so tenderly in it. But there is a much greater preciousness here.

The word “precious” denotes costliness and is identifying what YHWH lays out in order to deliver His saints from death and the pains of Sheol (Psalm 116:3a–b, Psalm 116:8a). Here is a mystery propounded in Psalm 116:15 and unveiled at the cross: “What price could be so high, for the saints’ deliverance from death, that even unto YHWH it is costly!” 

How glad the saint ought to be to have been purchased at such a price! How he rejoices to declare himself the slave of the LORD (Psalm 116:16a–b), Who has purchased him out from under all other slavery. The Matthew 6:24 principle that you cannot serve two masters means that if the Son has set you free by purchasing you as His slave, then by that purchase, He has redeemed you from all other slaveries (cf. John 8:36)!

Though His saints are His servants, the great sacrifice they offer is thanksgiving and prayer, especially in the public worship of GodPsalm 116:17-19. For the second time, in quick succession, the psalmist is so overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness to him that he makes vows unto the Lord. And the vows are of the same nature. The “sacrifice” that he offers is thanksgiving (Psalm 116:17a). Whatever was brought unto God materially, physically the heart of drawing near to God by sacrifice was always spiritual sacrifice (cf. 1 Peter 2:5). 

Now that the old sacrifices and feasts have been obsoleted and superseded by Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice and weekly feast, the spiritual offering of the soul to God is even more emphasized (cf. Hebrews 13:10–16). But, even as we see here, the religion that God gave His people was always to be a religion of the heart, a religion of the soul’s direct interaction with its Creator.

But this does not mean a prioritizing of individual worship. On the contrary, Christ is the great Worshipper. All of our worship (secret, family, public) is offered in Him and led by Him. And He prioritizes the public worship even over the others. So, both in Psalm 116:14b, and again here in the second vow in Psalm 116:18b, the keeping of these vows is especially “in the presence of all His people.” We wish to be “in the courts of YHWH’s house,” that great worship assembly first at Sinai, then the tabernacle, then the temple, and now in heaven itself (cf. Hebrews 12:18–24). We wish to be in the midst of the true Jerusalem.

Above all things, and especially for His costly delivering us from death, YHWH is to be praised (Psalm 116:19c). And this Psalm sets forth His designated manner of doing so. God grant to you, dear reader, to know God as the gloriously great and good God that this psalm declares. And God grant to you to respond to Him in the manner that it directs.

How has God ultimately delivered you from death and Hell? From what else has He delivered you? What vows does this psalm teach you to make in response? Where/when should you keep them? What does this teach you about the Lord? How can you improve/grow in prioritizing the public worship the way that this psalm teaches you to do? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, what shall we give to You for all of Your benefits toward us? Help us now by Your Spirit, as we come to You through Your Son, to call upon Your Name. Grant that we would take up the cup of salvation, offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon Your Name, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP116B “I Still Believed” or TPH116A “I Love the LORD, for He Has Heard Our Voice” 

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