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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 116

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

Psalms 116:1-19.-The Psalmist's love to Yahweh, and resolution to call upon Him all his life, for having heard his prayer (Psalms 116:1-2); the deliverance (Psalms 116:3-6); now I have rest, as thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling: I will walk before thee (Psalms 116:7-9); as I believed, so Yahweh gave to me: what return shall I make to Him? (Psalms 116:10-12); I will accept salvation and pay my vows because His saints' lives are precious before Him (Psalms 116:13-15); henceforth I am thy servant, and as thou hast loosed my bonds I will offer thank-sacrifices in the Lord's house publicly (Psalms 116:16-19). Psalms 117:1-2 is the conclusion to this psalm. The Chaldee forms, as the suffix in Psalms 116:12, and the forms in Psalms 116:14-15, negdaah (H5048), 'in the presence,' hamaawªtaah (H4194), 'the death,' indicate the time of the captivity. The plural 'saints' (Psalms 116:15) shows that the Psalmist represents the nation just delivered from extinction, and her 'bonds loosed' (Psalms 116:16; cf. Psalms 107:14). The place of the altar set up by Jeshua and Zerubbabel, even before the building of the temple, was called "the house of the Lord" (Psalms 116:19; Ezra 2:68; Ezra 3:8). This psalm was sung after public worship had been set up; cf. Psalms 116:13-14; Psalms 116:17-19; a little later than Psalms 107:1-43 where cf. introduction.

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice - (Psalms 18:1.) The connection of the two psalms appears also by comparing, Psalms 116:3, "The sorrows of death compassed me," with Psalms 18:4, from which it is taken. This first verse contains in brief the substance of the psalm. God's love to the Psalmist (or to the people whom he represents) calls forth love on his part; and so supplies the motive of obedience to Deuteronomy 6:5, "Thou shalt love (the same Hebrew as here) the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

Verse 2

Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Because he hath inclined his ear unto me - answering to the second clause of Psalms 116:1, "because, He hath heard my voice, and my supplications."

Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live - answering to the first clause of Psalms 116:1. The sure proof of 'loving the Lord' is 'calling upon Him all our days,' both with prayers in time of trouble (Psalms 116:3-4) and with thanksgivings for salvation vouchsafed to us (Psalms 116:13-19) - literally, "in my days." So Isaiah 39:8.

Verse 3

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

The sorrows of death compassed me - literally, 'the cords' or 'bands of death' (note, Psalms 18:5).

And the pains of hell ( Shª'owl (H7585 ), the unseen world of departed spirits) gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Verse 4

Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Then called I upon the name of the Lord. Drawn from Psalms 18:4-6. David intended his personal experience for the good of his posterity, and through them for the good of the elect nation, whose representative he was. David was the great model to his people in their times of distress. Jerubbabel (Haggai 2:23; Zechariah 4:1) was, on the return from Babylon, the representative of the royal line of David. How natural it was that he and his nation should, by adopting David's words here, associate themselves with that great Head of the kingdom of old. "I found trouble and sorrow" implies that not merely did sorrows find me, but I often unthinkingly threw myself in their way. God's grace can remedy even the evils that we bring on ourselves. "I called upon the name of the Lord" is stronger than 'I called upon the Lord;' I appealed to God's manifestation of His power and grace in past deliverances, and made these my plea for expecting help from Him now again.

Verse 5

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. By delivering me and my people, He has shown Himself to be truly all that the law defined Him to be (Exodus 34:6-7).

Verse 6

The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

The Lord preserveth the simple - namely, those easily overtaken by injuries, who know not how to escape from difficulties, owing to their want of worldly cleverness; whereas men of the world abound in expedients for securing themselves, and have no scruple in using all means whatever, lawful or unlawful. This child-like helplessness of simplicity, though not a positive merit (1 Corinthians 14:20), is far preferable to the unscrupulous wisdom of the selfish world: for it is a state in which, emptied of self-wisdom, believers are ready to look for and receive God's wisdom and providential leadings. It is illustrated by the parallel clause, "I was brought low" - i:e., bereft of all human counsel and strength, the state of "the simple." So Hezekiah, Isaiah 38:14 (cf. Psalms 142:6).

And he helped me, [ yªhowshiya` (H3467)]. The Hebrew alludes to the significant name Joshua, the high priest of the restored exiles (Zechariah 3:1-9).

Verse 7

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. Return unto thy rest ( limªnuwchaayªkiy (H4496)), O my soul. As the dove, when "she found no rest for the sole of her foot, returned unto Noah (the comforter) into the ark" (Genesis 8:9), Israel, according to God's prophetic threat (Deuteronomy 28:65), "among the nations" where she was a captive, had "no ease, neither had the sole of her foot rest; but the Lord gave her there a troubling heart, and failing of eyes and sorrow of mind, and her life hung in doubt before her" (Deuteronomy 28:65-66). But now God has provided her a rest again, and a happy home in the Holy Land; therefore she exhorts herself to enjoy the land of rest so graciously provided. Compare, spiritually, Psalms 23:2, "the still waters," 'the waters of quietnesses,' or 'rest of a manifold kind:' the same Hebrew (only plural) as is here for "rest" (singular) (Jeremiah 6:16; Matthew 11:29). The soul had been heretofore restless (cf. Genesis 4:12; Genesis 4:14); but now the altar of God had been already erected, and the foundation of the temple was either laid or immediately about to be so: so that every needful refreshment was in course of being provided for the restored wanderers.

For the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee (cf. Psalms 13:6, note, where the Hebrew verb, gaamal (H1580), is the same) - 'hath requited' or 'made up richly to thee for all thy past sufferings.' Not to be fully realized until the final conversion and restoration of Israel (Isaiah 61:7; Zechariah 9:12).

Verse 8

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling - alluding to Deuteronomy 28:65-66, quoted above in Psalms 116:7. God has now delivered her from the failing of eyes, doubt of life, and restlessness of feet, threatened and executed against her for apostasy. The fullness of this deliverance is yet future, and was fulfilled only in type by the restoration from Babylon.

Verse 9

I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. This verse and Psalms 116:8 are drawn from Psalms 56:13, "Thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" What was then uttered as in part an acknowledgment of deliverance, in part a prayer, is here wholly a grateful acknowledgment of a perfected deliverance of the life, the eyes, and the feet. Instead of "in the light," we have here "in the land (Hebrew, lands: cf. 2 Chronicles 11:23) of the living" (Psalms 27:13). The promises in Isaiah 30:19, "Thou shalt weep no more;" Jeremiah 31:16, are here spoken of as fulfilled, and as calling forth the gratitude of the delivered people. The lands of Canaan, "the pleasant land" (Daniel 8:9), are in one aspect "the land of the living." All the restored exiles who had been permitted to "enter into the land of Israel" were "written in the book of the living" (Psalms 69:28), "in the writing of the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 13:9). In a higher sense the words are fulfilled in those who shall partake of the resurrection to eternal life, in the land where "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Revelation 20:6; Revelation 21:4). That this (Psalms 116:8) was not fully realized at the return from Babylon appears from the "weeping" of the ancient men at the remembrance of the former temple, when the foundation of the second temple was being laid (Ezra 3:12-13).

Verse 10

I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:

I believed, therefore have I spoken. As the former strophe was occupied with the deliverance, so this is taken up with the thanksgiving for it. "I believed," as Abraham did (Genesis 15:6; Psalms 27:13); not that the Psalmist boasts of his faith, but mentions it in order to glorify the Lord, who had given him according to his faith. "Therefore have I spoken" (2 Corinthians 4:13). What he spake is not expressed, but implied in Psalms 116:11. While distrusting "men," he doubtless spake out his hearty trust in God. Confession with the mouth must attest the belief of the heart; otherwise one's faith is very dubious (Romans 10:9-10).

I was greatly afflicted. It was affliction that called his faith and confession into exercise.

Verse 11

I said in my haste, All men are liars.

I said in my haste - i:e., in my trepidation ... my consternation, caused by my 'great affliction' (Psalms 31:22). The relation between the Hebrew, "I said" [ 'aamar (H559)], here, and "I have spoken," in Psalms 116:10, is that the latter [ daabar (H1696)] rarely has the words spoken following immediately (Gesenius): which disproves Maurer's translation, 'I believed, though I was saying, 'I am greatly afflicted.' The Hebrew particle [ kiy (H3588)] is here used (Psalms 116:10) in the sense "therefore," instead of the usual 'because:' so "for" is used as wherefore, Luke 7:47; 2 Corinthians 4:13 decides it.

All men are liars - i:e., disappoint the hopes of those who trust in them (Psalms 108:12; Psalms 62:9; Psalms 146:3). But as the 'speaking' was prompted by 'believing' (Psalms 116:11), this negative expression of distrust of man was accompanied by his positive expression of trust in God, who never disappoints (Psalms 118:8). "Therefore have I spoken" probably refers to his believing prayer to God which accompanied his expression of distrust in "men" as helpers. So Mariana.

Verse 12

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? This presupposes that his believing and his and consequent speaking were followed by deliverance granted by God.

Verse 13

I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord - Hebrew, 'the cup of salvations;' the manifold and full salvation vouchsafed to me. I will accept the cup or portion (cf. Psalms 16:5; Psalms 23:5) assigned to me by the Lord, which is one of abundant salvation (cf. in a bad sense the same figure, Psalms 11:6; Psalms 75:8). Not as Mendelssohn, 'the cup full of wine used at sacrifices of thanksgiving' (cf. Luke 22:17; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16). For the Hebrew for [ 'esaa' (H5375)] "take" never means to drink; and there is no proof that wine was offered with sacrificial feasts of thankofferings (Lev. 37:11-14 ).

Verse 14

I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. "Now," or 'yea' [ naa' (H4994)], stirring himself up to promise hearty and public thanksgiving.

Verse 15

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints - the ground of the Psalmist's obligation to thanksgiving; namely, the Lord's zealous care for His people's lives, as most precious in His sight, that they shall not be given to death (Psalms 72:14).

Verse 16

O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

O Lord, truly I am thy servant - `O Lord, I pray thee, (accept, graciously my thanksgiving), because I am thy servant.' The Hebrew [ 'aanaah (H577)] expresses prayer rather than affirmation. He prays for permission to express publicly his gratitude, as a special favour which God bestows on "His servants" whom He delivers.

And the son of thine handmaid - (Psalms 86:16.) Here the language is overruled by the Spirit to typify Messiah, the antitypical Israel, the "servant of Yahweh" (Isaiah 42:1), and at the same time the Divine Son of the Virgin, who said (Luke 1:38), "Behold the handmaid of the Lord;" and Ps. 116:48 , "He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden." As being thy servant, I have a claim on thy protecting grace, and thou hast vouchsafed it.

Thou hast loosed my bonds. So concerning Messiah at His resurrection, Peter saith, "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death." Israel, loosed from the Babylonian captivity, is the type.

Verse 17

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 18

I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,

I will pay my vows ... - (cf. Psalms 116:14.)

Verse 19

In the courts of the LORD's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

In the courts of the Lord's house - (cf. introductory notes.)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 116". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-116.html. 1871-8.
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