PSALM 116 - Messiah: The Servant of the Lord, obedient unto death.
Before proceeding with this study, read through this wonderful Psalm.
All of us can identify to some degree with the Psalmist's trouble, and with his cry for deliverance, and the upswelling of love for the Lord when deliverance is granted.
This is especially true of v.1-5, which Outline the experience of Salvation:
  1. Sorrow under the weight of sin's penalty (death)...
  2. Inability to extricate oneself...
  3. Calling upon the Lord...
  4. His merciful response.
This Psalm is among the "Hallel Psalms" (Psa 113 - 118) which were incorporated in the celebration of the Passover and other feasts of Israel. As such, this psalm was probably sung during the Last Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ (cp. Mat 26:30).
In its fullest sense, it applies to Him. This is Jesus' song. We can blend our voices, in harmony with His, in praise for God's salvation, because in many ways the salvation experience of the believer is parallel to His deliverance from out of death. We follow where He has led.
To understand that this Psalm applies first to Him, we need to start at the center of the Psalm before we look at the whole.
116:10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
This verse is quoted in "2Cor 4:13".
The context of that passage (2Cor 4:8-18) is a discussion of the suffering which believers experience in this life.
  • We are troubled... yet not distressed.
    We are perplexed... but not in despair.
    We are persecuted... but not forsaken.
    We are cast down... but not destroyed. (2Cor 4:8,9)
  • Our sufferings are designed to reveal the life of the Lord Jesus, within us (2Cor 4:10,11).
  • We endure by "the same spirit of faith" by which Jesus endured His sufferings ("2Cor 4:13").
    That faith assures us of future resurrection & joyful life in His presence (2Cor 4:14-18).
Our sufferings are to reveal Jesus' life... as we live by the same spirit of faith that He lived by.
"He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver Him..." (Psa 22:8)
Even in the taunt of His enemies, His strength was revealed.
The words of this Psalm are His words: "I believed, therefore have I spoken..."
This Psalm, sung on the night before His crucifixion, is Jesus looking into the future.-
  • Seeing tomorrow's anguish & trusting Himself to the Father's keeping...
    -- He spoke of the bread and of the cup. (Mark 14:22-25)
    -- He foretold His death & resurrection. (Mark 14:27,28)
    -- He went out into the great affliction of Gethsemane. (Mark 14:32-36)
  • Seeing His disciples' anguish, He prepared them.
    In this song, He restated what He had already told them in John 16:16-22.
  • Seeing the sufferings of those who would follow Him later, He teaches us by His own example how to walk in troubled times (cp. John 17:13-16,20).
Lord Jesus, this is your song. Tune our hearts to hear your voice. Amen.
116:1 I love the LORD,
because he hath heard my voice [and] my supplications.
116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me,
therefore will I call upon [him] as long as I live.
The Father always hears His voice (John 11:41,42)
even in the impossibly heavy times, even at Lazarus' grave.
More than once during the evening of the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that
because of what He was about to do, the Father would hear their voices also. John 16:23
Thank God for the assurance that His ear turns toward me, because I am in Jesus Christ.
But why would Jesus need to pray:
116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me,
and the pains of hell gat hold upon me:
I found trouble and sorrow.
"The cords of death were around me,
the terrors of the grave had laid hold of me,
I suffered anguish and grief." [Berkely translation]
116:4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD;
O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
In anticipation of the cross, Jesus called upon His Father, from the garden of Gethsemane.
The appointed time was rushing in upon Him. The terror of entrapment gripped Him. John 12:27
116:5 Gracious [is] the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God [is] merciful.
The Lord is...
-- Gracious, ie., kind, ready to extend favor.
-- Righteous, ie., the standard of right, with no tolerance for evil in His presence.
-- Merciful, ie., compassionate, ready to forgive... desiring reconciliation.
Because of the very nature of God, Jesus was facing the cross...
to enable God to forgive our sins, without compromising His righteousness.
Jesus took our sin upon Himself (2Cor 5:21) so that the Holy, Righteous God
-- could destroy evil without destroying us, and
-- could forgive us without being untrue to Himself. (Rom 3:23-26)
116:6 The LORD preserveth the simple:
the 'simple'- ie., those people who are-
  • insufficient in themselves-
    They realize that they cannot make it on their own.
    They need God to intervene if they are to stand.
  • unsophisticated by worldy thinking-
    They believe God's Word to them.
    They confess (speak in agreement with Him) their need to Him.
    Compare Psa 115:
    The people of the world are too sophisticated to entrust themselves to God.
    They trust in a pantheon of false gods such as-
    -- technology, and the economy - the work of man's hands, or
    -- philosophy, and politics - the work of man's mind.
The simple sing: "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling."
They cling to the 'simple gospel.'- Joh 3:16; 17:3; Rom 1:16; 1Cor 1:22-31
I was brought low, and he helped me.
How 'low' are you today? Jesus was brought lower. Php 2:5-8
He left His glory as God to become a servant, a man, a man humiliated and led out to die a criminal's death. But it was the shame of my sin upon "Him, who knew no sin," that made Him "not able to look up." (Psa 40:12)
He who was above all, placed Himself beneath my lowness, to lift me up and out.
But He is no longer in that lowly position. For His work of redemption is finished.
116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul;
for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
rest- When you and I come to Him for rest, we turn from our old way to find something new...
something we never had before. (Mat 11:28-30)
But He, when His work was done, returned to His rightful place. (John 17:4,5)
As He sung this Psalm in the upper room, He stood at the very brink of the abyss.
Each passing second pressed Him toward the bottomless pit of separation from God.
But by faith, He could see the other side of the chasm. He claimed His rest by faith.
116:8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling.
116:9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
'my eyes... my feet...' - cp. Luke 24:39
Jesus expected to rise in His physical body, not just in some spiritual sense.
'my soul from death... I will walk... living.'- cp. Acts 1:11
The very same Jesus, who died, arose and ascended, will come again to earth.
His role will not be superseded by some new spokesman from God.
We should not look for a modern 'christ' or guru for a new generation.
116:10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
What was it that He believed and declared, in the midst of His affliction?
In v.8,9, He spoke prophetically of His resurrection,
believing that the LORD would deliver Him, in answer to His prayer (v.3-7).
From Gethsemane, His resurrection was more than three days in the future.
Faith claims it as present fact.
Faith is as good as the One trusted.
The Father is totally faithful. Men are not...
116:11 I said in my haste, All men [are] liars.
haste - HB= chaphaz, hurry, alarm, fear.
Jesus did not entrust Himself to men. He knew what was in man. (Joh 2:24,25)
He knew that in His time of distress...
  • Judas would betray Him,
  • Peter would deny Him,
  • the Pharisees would falsely accuse Him,
  • Pilate would declare Him innocent, yet allow His execution, while musing "What is truth?"
all men are liars- but God is true and faithful. His word is sure. Rom 3:4
Natural man is more like Satan than like God. Joh 8:44
Jesus, knowing what we are, would not give Himself to us,
-- yet, He gave Himself for us, to save us from what we are.
116:12 What shall I render unto the LORD [for] all his benefits toward me?
116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
116:14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.
render- ie., give back, repay.
You and I cannot repay the Lord for His benefits toward us.
Jesus, entrusting Himself to the Father, paid our debt: 'the wages of sin' which every man owes, but no man can pay. Rom 6:23
I will take the cup of salvation...-
The cup which Jesus gave to His disciples was a symbol of salvation's payment. Mat 26:27-29
The cup which Jesus drank was not symbolic. It was the real thing.
  • His cup was "my blood... shed for many for the remission of sins."
    He drank the cup filled with the wrath of God (cp. Psa 11:5,6).
    He was the grape, crushed and torn in the winepress of God's wrath.
  • The disciples drank of "the fruit of the vine."
    They became partakers of the salvation which He accomplished, and entered into eternal life in union with Him who is the true Vine. (cp. Joh 15:1-5)
I will take the cup... and call- (as in v.4) "O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul."
Or, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit..." Luke 23:46
I will pay my vows unto the LORD...- When a Jew paid his vows,
he brought the sacrifices & offerings that he previously promised to God.
So, Jesus was fulfilling His promise to the Father. See Heb 10:5-7,10; Psa 40:7
now... - His hour had come. Mark 14:41; John 12:23,24
in the presence of all His people - 'people' is singular, referring to His people, Israel.
Jesus offered Himself outside the gates of Jerusalem,
where all Israel was gathered for Passover.
116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD [is] the death of his saints.
saints {HB= chacid, holy ones, faithful ones, godly ones}-
cp. 1Sam 2:8-10; Psa 16:10; 50:5; 86:2
This word is distinct from HB= qadosh, holy, set apart. In the KJV, both words are translated as 'holy, saints, sanctified.' However, when the scriptures refer to God's people as 'saints,' we understand that their 'holiness' is not intrinsic to their nature, but rather is imparted through their relationship with the One who is truly Holy. See Psa 89:18-20 where 'holy' is 'qadosh' in the first and third occurrences, and the second occurrence is 'chacid.' David was 'holy' because of his relationship with the LORD.
precious- ie., valuable, costly, rare, weighty, influential.
  • God's people are of great value to Him. cp. Mat 10:29-33
    Consider the great price, which Jesus paid, in His death,
    to purchase a holy people for His own possession (Titus 2:14),
    and to preserve us from death's power when its sorrows close in upon us.
  • God's Son is of great value to Him.
    Jesus is the Holy One of God.
    Among men, He alone was entirely 'faithful and true' to the LORD.
    In this verse, the word 'saints' may refer to Him, in the 'plural of majesty.'
    His death was of inestimable value, in the eyes of God.
  • What value would you place on His death for you?
In v.16-19, Jesus looks beyond His sorrows to "the joy set before Him." Heb 12:2
-- His resurrection & return to heaven. Joh 17:4,5
-- His spiritual offspring. Isa 53:11
116:16 O LORD, truly I [am] thy servant; I [am] thy servant,
[and] the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.
thou hast loosed my bonds.- This speaks of His resurrection.
The 'cords of death' (v.3), which once bound Him, have been forever broken.
I am thy servant, I am thy servant- The repetition sounds like He is leaping for joy.
thy servant- ie., the One anointed by God to accomplish His purposes. cp. Isa 49:1-9.
By His resurrection -
- - Jesus was declared to be the Holy One of God. Rom 1:3,4
- - His work of salvation is shown to be complete. 1Cor 15:20-23
the son of thine handmaid - ie., Mary (cp. Luke 1:38)
By His resurrection, Mary's story of His virgin birth is vindicated.
In v.17-19, Jesus looks forward to the joy of His future kingdom.
116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and will call upon the name of the LORD.
116:18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD
now in the presence of all his people,
116:19 In the courts of the LORD'S house,
in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
the sacrifice of thanksgiving- for victory over sin & death. cp. Psa 107:21,22
The Lord Jesus Himself will lead the saved in praise for salvation. Psa 22:22-26; Heb 13:15
my vows- ie., things that He promised to the Father. eg. John 17:26
now... - This word probably looks forward to that future day,
when our salvation is complete and Jesus' prayer of John 17:24 has become reality.
However, the HB word for 'now' can also be translated 'O may it be.'
Faith is confident that the prophesied future is factual, and
until then, prays for that day when 'the faith shall be sight.' Rom 8:24,25; Rev 22:12,20
now in the presence of all His people.-
Here, 'people' is plural, referring to the saved of every 'people and nation.'
In v.14, Jesus paid His vows (by the sacrifice of His life) in the midst of God's people (singular), Israel.
Here, He pays His vows of thanksgiving, in the midst of all redeemed peoples John 10:16; Rev 5:9
in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee O Jerusalem.-
At His first coming, He was rejected by His people, and crucified outside the city. Heb 13:12-14
When He comes again, His people will receive Him... and He, as their King, will lead them in worship, from the center of His Kingdom, in Jerusalem. Psa 110:2,3
In Psalm 116, the Lord Jesus Christ expresses the expense which He has borne to provide Mercy & Truth for God's people. Because the Father delivered His Son, who suffered, died and arose on my behalf, I know that He has also 'heard my voice' crying out for deliverance from sin and its consequences. The redeemed heart responds in Psalm 117.

This Concludes the study in Psalm 116.
Click here to begin the study in Psalm 118
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