“I Was Overcome by Trouble and Sorrow” (v. 3)
Have you every felt like you were suffocating in your sorrow? Like there was not enough air in the room? This is the experience described by the psalmist in verse 3. The impression of verse 4 was that it was his dying breath that called out, “O Lord, save me!” It is on this basis that in verses 10-11 the psalmist could assert his consistent faith through affliction.
Too often we believe faith is evidenced by the unshakable presence of peace. This is not the testimony of the psalmist. He was desperate, yet in his desperation he did not forsake the object of his only hope—God. Let us not feel guilty for being overwhelmed. If faithful believers never became overwhelmed, we would not need Psalm 116. Let us, in our most daunting afflictions, continue to cry out to our God so that our testimony can be added to the chorus of this great psalm.
“Be at Rest Once More, O My Soul” (v.7)
Will heaven be more heavenly because of our time on earth? Is peace more peaceful because of our trials? Don’t read these questions as a lead in to the, “Why does God allow evil?” question. Read them as a finger tracing the artwork of God’s redemption. The psalmist can (and does) praise God with greater passion, clarity, and conviction as a result of his “post-stress rest.”
Interestingly, the psalmist does not condemn his soul for its distress. Rather the focus has so totally shifted (from self to God) that his affliction is merely a canvass to display God’s goodness and faithfulness. Every indication in the psalm, however, is that this shift did not occur until after God’s deliverance and the psalmist’s reflection. During the affliction the psalmist had desperate faith. After God’s deliverance, the psalmist had to pause and intentionally call his soul to peaceful praise. Both are God-honoring responses given their circumstances in the life of the psalmist.
How Can I Repay the Lord?
Is this not the very same question for which Naaman was rebuked (2 Kings 5)? No, this question is different. Naaman’s question wanted to compensate God monetarily for a service received—apparently to maintain independence (being debt free). The psalmist’s acknowledges an act of unmerited favor for which the only response is public and private praise.
Praise (in many forms) is the only acceptable response to God’s activity in our life. It is not payment but celebration and evangelism. We do not return goodness to God. We become intoxicated with God’s goodness until it spills out of our life and becomes contagious. Consider the following aspects of the response of praise found in Psalm 116.
- It was rooted in love for the Lord (v 1).
- It was humble acknowledging the need for mercy (v. 1, 16).
- It was highly relational with God (v. 2).
- It did not deny the harshness of life (v. 3, 10).
- It was vulnerable enough to acknowledge desperation (v. 4, 6).
- It was personally directive (v. 7).
- It was expressive (v. 8).
- It was willing to risk rejection (v. 11).
- It was public (v. 13)
- It did not compromise (v. 14, 19).
- It was sacrificial (v. 17).
- It was simple (v. 19)
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.