My God is My Shield, and Defender (Psalm 115; Psalm 116)

Scripture reading – Psalm 115; Psalm 116

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms that are calls to worship. Leaving no doubt whom the God of Israel is, the psalmist invites people of faith to boast in Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the Sovereign of all!

Psalm 115

The psalmist began his psalm as a prayer, and appealed to God to defend His name and honor (115:1). The heathen had scorned the God of creation, and dared to mock Him, asking, “Where is now their God?” (115:2) Offended by the question, the psalmist answered, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (115:3).

The focus of the author then turned to the congregation of Israel, and he reminded them that the idols of the heathen “are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (115:4). The wicked worships idols that “have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7They have hands, but they handle not: Feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat” (115:5-7). Oh, the foolishness of men when they deny the God of creation! They worship gods fashioned like themselves: mute, blind, deaf, and dumb! (115:8).

Turning his thoughts to the LORD, the psalmist exhorted Israel to worship the LORD, reminding the people three times: The LORD “is their help [aid] and their shield [protector; i.e., a small shield used in close combat](115:9-11). What the LORD had been in the past (for He had “been mindful” of Israel), the people were promised He would be in the future: “He will bless them that fear [Him], both small and great” (115:13).

Psalm 115 concluded, reminding believers why the LORD should be worshipped and praised: He is Creator, and “made heaven and earth” (115:15). He is Sovereign, and “the heaven, even the heavens are the LORD’S” (115:16a). As Creator, He made man the keeper of the earth (115:16b; Genesis 1:26, 28-30; 2:15).

Understanding the dead cannot praise the LORD (115:17), the psalmists declared, “we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord” (115:18).

Psalm 116

The author of Psalm 116 opened the psalm with a sincere testimony of his love for the LORD, writing, “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications” (116:1).

The psalm did not identify the affliction that had brought “sorrows of death” (116:3) upon its author; however, he described his troubles as “the pains of hell” (116:3). In the midst of his sorrows, the psalmist turned to the LORD and prayed, “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (116:4b). As he reflected upon God’s character, he prayed, “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful6  The LORD preserveth the simple [innocent]: I was brought low, and he helped me… 8  For [the LORD] hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling” (116:4-8).

Reflecting on the faithfulness of the LORD, and knowing He hears and answers prayer, the psalmist affirmed his devotion to the LORD with a series of vows (116:9-19).

Psalm 116:9 – I will walk before [live; i.e., conscious awareness of the presence of] the LORD in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:13 – I will take the cup of salvation [possibly the Passover cup], and call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:14 – I will pay [complete; finish] my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:17 – I will offer [make] to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving [praise], and will call [publicly] upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:18-19 – I will pay [complete; finish] my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Closing thoughts – Consider Psalm 116:15 – “Precious [honorable, and noble] in the sight [presence] of the LORD is the death [i.e., the day of death] of his saints [people of faith].”

The inevitability of death is the bane of humanity; however, from the LORD’s perspective, the death of His saints is precious, excellent and noble. All believers can say with conviction, “whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith