“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me,; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul.’ Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, He saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. “
(Psalm 116:1-7 ESV)
This was part of a passage of Scripture we looked into the other night with our Young Adult Group. I asked something like, “what words could we use to describe this passage?”, and someone said, “Gratitude and dependence.” Those words really resonated with me. They are still resonating with me, and the more I re-read the passage, the more they resonate.
The psalmist apparently found himself near death and cried out to God for help. He suffered, and called and was delivered from the suffering. The balance of the psalm is a testimony to God’s goodness, and the psalmists attempts to give praise back to God for the favor he has experienced. He depended on God to save him, and now that he has known that salvation, he is grateful, and appreciative.
Shouldn’t that be our story too? Haven’t we been given hope when our case was hopeless, and spared from a death that was rightfully ours? God is gracious, righteous and merciful. He has dealt bountifully with us, so much more so than we deserve.
He was under no obligation to save us. It adds nothing to His glory and majesty to save a sinful soul, and yet He does. He doesn’t need us to make Himself complete, it settles no owed debt to spare us, and yet He does. We are more dependent on Him than we realize, and certainly more than we could ever begin to express proper appreciation for.
The psalmist writes, and actually repeats the verse: ‘I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.’ (v.14 and 18) While it was somewhat common for a person to take a vow for a period of time, and consecrate themselves to God for that period, I think because of the context of this, and what precedes and follows, I suspect this is more about offering unrestrained praise and glory to God in the place of worship, (tabernacle, temple, etc.). For us, this would be to truly pour out our hearts in worship to God without restraint.
Do we really reflect on our dependence on and gratitude to God as we offer back our praises to Him? Do we really stop to consider what it is we are singing (the lyrics) as we sing, regardless of the style of music? Does the degree of our gratitude affect the energy with which we express our worship to God? Think about that while you are watching the game on Sunday, or whenever you next watch a sports team play, or a fine musician play. Does the degree of your appreciation for the performance you just witnessed influence your response?
I hope that worshipping with the kindred saints on Sunday morning isn’t just a habit you practice, or something you do because you think that you’re supposed to. I hope that worship with the gathered body of Christ is a true expression of your worship to God, and that it brings richness and vitality to your life each week.
“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live….I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!” (Ps. 116:1, 18-19 ESV)
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen