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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Psalm 116

Psalm 116

Praying to God

Psa 116:1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
When I was in the hospital waiting for the birth of my son I did not realize it but there were a great number of things that I would learn in the process of raising that little fellow. One of the most appreciate things I ever received from him was when he would just pop up with, “Dad, I love you.” In that line of thought I can't imagine that our Heavenly Father appreciates our proclamation of love for Him any less than I did from my son. The Psalmist appears to understand this and then goes on to explain that there are not only reasons for his love but that they are beneficial.

Psa 116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
God sent His own Son to pay the debt that was owed by everyone of us and His personal attention has been focused on each human I the world since before Adam stood there and watched Eve sin and then chose to follow her in that sin. On the personal level, because I have realized that God cares that much about me, like the Psalmist, I take all my troubles, my plans and my praises to God. The very thing that God desires, personal relationship, I am determined to give to Him as long as I live.

Psa 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Here the Psalmist explains that he felt, very much, the same as a young soldier in the jungles of SE Asia in the 1960's. As a young man I watched my best friends die and become maimed by mortars, rockets and all manor of improvised devises of death and there was an immobilizing fear that could have made me useless to myself and my fallow soldiers. It is my belief that this is the type of circumstance the Psalmist is portraying here.

Psa 116:4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
It is a popular opinion that the writer called out to the LORD for Him to save his life but I did a quick check of nine translations only two say my life, both are newer versions and the rest agree with the KJV and the ASV that he went straight to the heart of the situation and asked the LORD to preserve his eternal soul. It is our eternal self, our soul, that God is most concerned with and we also should concentrate on that. That is not an easy adjustment to make, we live, right now, in this world and it's pressures are forever on our backs, demanding our attention.
However it is not impossible to refocus and direct our lives toward things that matter much more than the momentary problems that face us. When I was in the jungle I learned what it was that caused the “Thousand Yard Stare.” After so much death and killing I came to think of myself as dead meat walking. That sounds terrible until you understand that I was a servant and my specialty was insertion and extraction. Those 18 and 19 year old kids did not need a trigger happy machine gunner that might shoot one or more of them because he jerked at the wrong time, they were in need of Cool Had Luke. Once I got it into my head that there was something, so much, more important than my fragile existence I could calmly pick my targets and at the same time pay attention to the damage being inflicted on my baby, read the instruments that the pilots had no time for and watch the tail and main rotors as we lifted out of the jungle to keep the pilots from striking a tree and killing us all. My mission was life saving and required that I look at the big picture and to ignore the single frame I was focused on.

Resting In God

Psa 116:5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
When we begin to understand the LORD the way that our author did we will have learned to trust Him in an even greater manor than I had learned to trust to two 19 year old Warrant Officers that saw me into and safely out of so much trouble. God is so righteous, gracious and merciful that there is nothing we cannot trust Him with.

Psa 116:6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
We've all heard it preached from the pulpit how God uses the foolish to confound the wise. The first sentence of this verse affirms that truth about God. The second is my life story in eight words. In the past I have had folks accuse me of being a Bible Scholar when the truth is that I carry a GED because I failed Eighth Grade English and joined the US Army the next year. Any knowledge and any wisdom that I carry is the direct result of my reading and rereading the scriptures so that God could pour His blessings out on me.

Psa 116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
Because the LORD has dealt with me I can live in the middle of a world gone insane and still be at rest and not worry. Just as the author of the song It Is Well could, with tears in his eyes, stand on the deck of a ship passing over the watery grave of his daughters and write those words, each of us can posses that same truth for ourselves by trusting God.

Walking With God

Psa 116:8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
Just as I stepped onto an airplane in November of 1969 ad out the bowls of a nightmare, every one of us can be delivered from the certainty of the destruction we richly deserve. Just as God delivered the author from his destruction and me from the certain death of Close Combat Support in a chopper, He will deliver you.

Psa 116:9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
The land of the living is a thought worth meditation. This can easily be thought of as Heaven but I believe our song writer is thinking of his life before Heaven. I see that he has decided to realize that God will see his every action ad he has determined to live a life that will honor God.

Psa 116:10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
Psa 116:11 I said in my haste, All men are liars.
Without having to consider it he declares that there no man that is trust worthy, implying that only God is.

Worshiping the LORD

Psa 116:12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?
Is there anything that we posses that God has not give to us? What can we possibly repay Him with for His kindness?

Psa 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
Some will disagree but in line with the thoughts already expressed I see our worshiper accepting the salvation of his LORD and determining to follow Him.

Psa 116:14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.
When an Israeli made a vow to God he was legally bound to fulfill it but the Psalmist has gone a step further. As a holy example he will not only pay his vows but he will do for all the people to see as an example to be followed.

Psa 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
This might seem out of place but it isn't. When a man or a woman has lived a life, set apart to the LORD, such as the Psalmist has determined to do God has a place for him in Heaven.

Psa 116:16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.
Here our author proclaims the heritage of his loyalty. Just as his mother had served God, so would he.

Psa 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
We do not live under the Law today and the sacrifice mentioned here is likely the sacrifice offering but that does not mean we should ignore or to gloss over the idea. Aside from the strict code of the Law that demonstrates the holiness of God, if we will take time to study the law there are a set of Godly principals for all of us to use in living our lives for God.

Psa 116:18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,
Here he is emphasizing his commitment in a manor that is similar to our use of highlighters today.

Psa 116:19 In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
Here he is encouraging everyone to go into the House of the LORD and to praise Him.