Scripture reading – Psalm 115; Psalm 116

 

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms for worship. Leaving no doubt who the God of Israel is, the psalmist invited people of faith to boast in Him as the Creator of the heavens, 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 (Psalm 115:1). The heathen had scorned the God of creation and dared to mock Him, asking, “Where is now their God?” (Psalm 115:2) Offended by the question, the psalmist answered, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Psalm 115:4-8 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture in the Psalms and reminds believers that all the gods and idols worshipped by humanity are nothing. The author reminded the congregation of Israel that the gods of the heathen “are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (Psalm 115:4). The wicked worship 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” (Psalm 115:5-7).

Oh, the foolishness of those who deny the God of creation! They worship gods whom they have fashioned and are like themselves: mute, blind, deaf, and dumb! (Psalm 115:8).

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

Psalm 115 concluded and reminded the reader why the LORD should be worshipped and praised: He is Creator, and “made heaven and earth” (Psalm 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 (Psalm 115:16b; Genesis 1:26, 28-30; 2:15).

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

Psalm 116

 

Psalm 116 opened with a sincere testimony of its author’s love for the LORD. The psalmist wrote, “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications” (Psalm 116:1).

The affliction that brought “sorrows of death” (Psalm 116:3) upon its author was not identified. However, he described his troubles as “the pains of hell” (Psalm 116:3). Amid his sorrows, the psalmist turned to the LORD and prayed, “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:4b). As he reflected upon God’s character, he prayed, “Gracious isthe 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” (Psalm 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 (Psalm 116:9-19). 

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

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 [fulfill; 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.

In closing, consider Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

When I remember the author rejoiced when the LORD saved him from the “sorrows of death” (Psalm 116:3), it gives me pause to reflect on verse 15 when he also writes, “the death of His saints” is “precious in the sight of the LORD” (116:15). How can we rationalize those statements?

From a human earthly perspective, we rightly associate death with suffering, pain, and sorrow. Yet, what we dread is described as “precious,” honorable, and noble “in the sight of the LORD.” What is precious? More than birth, it is the day of the saint’s death that is “precious in the sight (and the presence) of the LORD” (Psalm 116:15).

The LORD is sovereign and hears and answers His children’s prayers. Some cry to the LORD in their afflictions, and He restores them to health, while others pass through the shadow of death and are comforted by His presence (Psalm 23:4).

The inevitability of death is the bane of humanity. Yet, from an eternal heavenly perspective, the death of a man or woman of faith is precious, excellent, and noble in the sight of God. It is the graduation day of a believer who has fulfilled God’s purpose in life and is “precious in the sight of the LORD” (Psalm 116:15).

Invitation – Besides your salvation in Christ, life is the most precious gift God has given you (Mark 8:36-37), and you should cherish and treasure every day. Only people of faith can say with conviction, “Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).

Though billions of souls inhabit the earth, you should be confident your Creator knows you and your life is precious to Him. If you have not received Christ as Savior, I invite you to make that decision today.

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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