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A.M. 2984. B.C. 1020.
It is not certain by whom or on what occasion this Psalm was composed. It plainly appears, however, to be a song of thanksgiving for deliverance from trouble, either temporal or spiritual, or both. The Jews were wont to sing this Psalm, with the three preceding and two following, (as has been observed in the contents of the 113th,) after their passover, for which, some commentators think, they had undoubtedly the direction of some of their prophets, who saw that it represented Christ, the true paschal lamb, singing thus, after his last passover, with a reference to his approaching sufferings, in full assurance of being heard in that he feared. But it seems, as Dr. Horne has observed, that it ought rather to be considered “as an evangelical hymn in the mouth of a penitent, expressing his gratitude for salvation from sin and death.” The psalmist declares his love to God, who had vouchsafed to hear his prayer, and determines still to call upon him, Psalms 116:1 , Psalms 116:2 . Describes the distress he had been in, his deliverance out of it, and his subsequent comfort, Psalms 116:3-9 . Acknowledges he had been tempted to despond, but was supported by faith in the day of trouble, Psalms 116:10 , Psalms 116:11 . Determines to praise and serve Jehovah, who thus delivers the souls of his people, Psalms 116:12-19 .
Psalms 116:1-2. I love the Lord Hebrew, I love, because the Lord hath heard my voice. “The soul, transported with gratitude and love, seems, at first, to express her affection without declaring its object, as thinking that all the world must know who is the person intended. Thus Mary Magdalene, at the sepulchre, though no previous mention had been made of Jesus, says to one, whom she thought to be the gardener, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, &c. John 20:15. And ought not the love of God to be excited in all our hearts by the consideration, that when we were not able to raise ourselves up to him, he mercifully and tenderly inclined and bowed down his ear to us?” Horne. Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live Hebrew, בימי אקרא , bejamai ekra, in my days, that is, as long as I have a day to live, as this phrase is used 2 Kings 20:19; Isaiah 39:8.
Psalms 116:3-4. The sorrows of death compassed me Dangerous and deadly calamities as bitter as death: Hebrew, חבלי מות , cheblee maveth, the cords, or bands of death: see note on Psalms 18:4-5. The pains of hell Or of the grave, or of death; either cutting, killing pains, or such agonies and horrors as dying persons often feel within themselves; gat hold upon me Hebrew, מצאוני , found me, that is, surprised me. Having been long pursuing me, at last they overtook and seized upon me, and I gave up myself for lost. Then called I upon the name of the Lord Being brought to the last extremity, I made use of this, not as the last remedy, but as the old and only remedy which I had found, a balm for every wound.
Psalms 116:5-6. Gracious is the Lord Therefore he will maintain my just cause against my unrighteous oppressors, will perform his promises, and save those who faithfully serve and trust in him. The Lord preserveth the simple That is, those who are upright and sincere, and make use of no crafty arts or counsels, no indirect or unlawful means for their deliverance; who, as the original word implies, depend wholly upon God, as little children do upon their parents. I was brought low Plunged into the depth of distress and misery; and he helped me Patiently to bear what was laid upon me, and to hope for deliverance at the proper time.
Psalms 116:7-8. Return unto thy rest, O my soul Unto that tranquillity of mind, and cheerful confidence in God’s providence and promises, which thou didst once enjoy. Repose thyself in God; seek not for that rest in the creature which is to be found only in the Creator. God is thy rest; in him only canst thou dwell at ease; to him therefore thou must retire. For the Lord hath dealt bountifully, &c. Hath many ways expressed his bounty most liberally to thee, and provided sufficiently for thy comfort and refreshment. Thou hast delivered my soul Myself; from death From threatening and approaching death; or from spiritual death, the death of sin, and from eternal death, the death of hell. Thou hast caused me to pass from death unto life. Mine eyes from tears That is, my heart, from inordinate grief. When God comforts those that are cast down, when he looses the mourners’ sackcloth, and girds them with gladness, then he delivers their eyes from tears; which yet will not be perfectly done till we come to that world where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, And my feet from failing Namely, from falling into sin, and so into misery.
Psalms 116:9. I will walk Hebrew, אתהלךְ , ethhalleck, I will set myself to walk; before the Lord I determine, in the strength of divine grace, to set him before me; to live as in his presence, and as under his eye; to speak and act in a manner becoming his presence, and the relation in which I stand to him as his servant and worshipper, his son and heir; to walk worthy of him unto all pleasing. It is the psalmist’s promise and resolution, in return for the blessings acknowledged in the preceding verse. In the land of the living Among living men in this world. Observe, reader, the land of the living is a land of mercy, which we ought to be very thankful for; it is a land of opportunity, which we ought to improve; and the consideration that we are in this land should engage and quicken us to walk before God.
Psalms 116:10. I have believed God’s promise of deliverance; therefore have I spoken What I have now said; or, I have firmly believed, and trusted in God’s almighty power, and ever watchful providence, and therefore have addressed my prayer unto him with confidence in my greatest dangers and distresses. In this, or a similar sense, this clause is quoted by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:13, with application to himself and his fellow-ministers, who, though they were exposed everywhere to sufferings for Christ’s sake, and were even in danger of being put to death wherever they came; yet were neither ashamed nor afraid to own him, because they confided in the promise he had made them of a blessed resurrection.
Psalms 116:11. I said in my haste Yet once, I confess, I spoke very unadvisedly, through precipitation of mind, for want of due consideration, as the same phrase, בחפזי , bechophzi, is used Psalms 31:22. It may, however, be rendered, in my terror, or amazement, that is, when I was discomposed, and almost distracted with the greatness of my troubles. All men are liars There is no credit to be given to their promises of deliverance; I am lost and undone. Thus understood, he questions the truth of God’s promises, yet so that he does not reflect directly on God, but only on the instrument by whom the promises were declared. Some render the clause, All men are a lie, or lies, are vain, a thing of nothing, a mere phantom without any solidity; all human help fails me; so that my case is desperate if God do not help me.
Psalms 116:12-14. What shall I render unto the Lord Yet, notwithstanding all my dangers, and my distrust of God also, he hath conferred so many and great blessings upon me, that I can never make sufficient returns to him for them. I will take the cup of salvation Or of deliverance, as Bishop Patrick renders ישׁועות , thus interpreting the clause: “I will call my friends together to rejoice with me, and taking the cup, which we call the cup of deliverance, (because, when blessed and set apart, we are thus wont to commemorate the blessings we have received,) I will magnify the power, goodness, and faithfulness of God my Saviour before all the company.” The phrase is doubtless taken from the common practice of the Jews in their thank-offerings, in which a feast was made of the remainder of the sacrifices, and the offerers, together with the priests, did eat and drink before the Lord; and among other rites, the master of the feast took a cup of wine into his hand, and solemnly blessed God for it, and for the mercy which was then acknowledged, and then gave it to all the guests, who drank successively of it. According to Dr. Hammond, this cup, among the Jews, was two-fold; one offered in a more solemn manner in the temple, Numbers 28:7, the other more private in families, called the cup of thanksgiving, or commemoration of any deliverance received. This the master of the family was wont to begin, and was followed by all his guests. On festival days it was attended with a suitable hymn, such as that sung by our Lord and his disciples on the night when he advanced that cup into the sacrament of his blood, which hath ever since been to Christians the cup of salvation; and which all penitents should now receive in the church of Christ, with invocation, thanksgiving, and payment of their vows made in time of trouble.
Psalms 116:15. Precious, &c., is the death of his saints He sets a high price upon it: he will not easily grant it to the will of their enemies. If any son of violence procure it, he will make him pay very dearly for it. And when the saints suffer it for God’s sake, as they frequently do, it is a most acceptable sacrifice to him, and highly esteemed by him. Thus the blood of God’s people is said to be precious in his sight, Psalms 72:14. And in the same sense the life of a man is said to be precious in the eyes of him who spares and preserves it, 1 Samuel 26:21; 2 Kings 1:13. God’s people are precious in his eyes both living and dying, for, whether they live, they live unto the Lord, or whether they die, they die unto the Lord, Romans 14:8.
Psalms 116:16. O Lord, truly I am thy servant This is a thankful acknowledgment of his great obligations to God, whereby he was in duty bound to be his perpetual servant. The son of thy handmaid The son of a mother who was devoted, and did devote me to thy service. Thou hast loosed my bonds Thou hast rescued me from my enemies, whose captive and vassal I was, and therefore hast a just right to me and to my service.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 116". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany