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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 116

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-19

Psalms 116:1-19

V. 1. Various are the opinions of learned men, concerning the author of this psalm, and the time when it was composed. But perhaps David wrote it ; not when persecuted by Saul, (for the sanctuary was not then at Jerusalem,) but either when delivered from Absalom’s rebellion, or after some other sharp trial, between the removal of the-- Ark to Zion and that event.

(Notes, Psalms 30:6-8 Psalms 38:1-10. Psalms 41:1-3.) In several instances, however, the Chaldee dialect is used in it ; which makes and prahtude is not mentioned at first, but may be collected from what follows. The abrupt opening was expressive of a full heart. Some render the clause, ’ I am ’ satisfied,’ or ’ I am well pleased;’ but it seems rather more in the manner of Peter’s earnest declaration, " Lord, " thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee." (Note, John 21:15-17.)

V. 2. ’ This love of his, in so readily granting my de’ sires, ... encourages and engages me, ... to the last breath ’ of my life, to expect deliverance from him.’ Bp. Patrick.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 40:15; Psalms 55:17-18.)

V. 3. The inward anguish of the Psalmist’s mind was equal to his outward sufferings. He seemed to feel at once the agonies of death, and that sense of wrath and remorse of conscience, which have in them something of " the " pains of hell." It is by no means natural to interpret both the expressions of the fear or pain of death; or of death, and the grave in which no pains are felt ; (Note, Psalms 16:8-11;) when so obvious an interpretation offers itself, and one so suited to the feelings of every person, who, in great pain of body and remorse of conscience, has been alarmed with the dread of immediate death.

(Notes, Psalms 18:4-5. Psalms 32:3-5. Psalms 40:11-12; Psalms 86:12-13. 2 Samuel 22:5-6.)

V. 4. The expressive brevity of the prayer here mentioned, is well worth noticing.

(Marg. Rcf. Notes, Psalms 142:4-6. Luke 18:9-14; Luke 23:39-43, v: 42.)

V. 5. (Marg. Ref.) "A just God and a Saviour;" righteous in shewing mercy to the guilty, as well as faithful to his promises. (Notes, Ixxxv. 10 -13. Is. 45: 20- 22. Romans 3:21-26.)

V. 6. The simple are they, who feel themselves liable to be imposed on by designing foes ; who are destitute of wisdom and power to deliver themselves ; but who renounce all other dependence, to rely wholly on God, and " in simplicity and godly sincerity " to wait on him to save them. (Marg. Ref. k.) Thus the Psalmist, in his greatest extremity, and lowest dejection, relied on the Lord, and sought his help ; and the Lord saved and delivered him.

V. 7 To know, trust, love, and delight in God, is the " rest" of rational creatures. (Note, Psalms 90:1-2.) This is forsaken through sin ; and hence arises the restlessness of mankind : but the believer has returned to God, through the Saviour, and found, in some measure, " a rest to his " soul," which is the earnest and foretaste of heavenly felicity.

(Notes, Psalms 95:9-11. Jeremiah 6:16-17. Matthew 11:28-30. Hebrews 4:1-11.) Yet this is imperfect, and often interrupted, especially by sin: and when chastenings bring the wanderer from God, to a due sense of his sin and folly, conscious guilt at first generally increases the agitation of his mind : till recollection of the Lord’s former kindness, and the consolations which he vouchsafed, and the hope of recovering them, encourage and allure him to return by repentance, faith, and prayer ; and this purpose is strengthened by every token and taste of returning peace and comfort. This seems to have been the Psalmist’s experience.

(Notes, I- 6. Psalms 13:5-6. Psalms 119:17 - Hosea 2:6-7)

Dealt bountifully.] Or " recompensed thee." He hath graciously recompensed thy confidence in him, and as it were said, " According to thy faith be it unto thee."

V. 8, 9. Rescued by special grace from death and ruin, comforted from distressing sorrow, and recovered and upheld after grievous falls, the Psalmist determined to walk, as in the sight of God, " in the land of the living." (Marg. Ref.) The original word is plural, lands ; so that the land of Canaan cannot exclusively be intended : but rather the Psalmist meant to say, that he would walk before God, while he lived here ; and expected at last to enjoy his presence in heaven, and serve him for ever and ever.

(Notes, Psalms 23:5-6. Psalms 27:13; Psalms 56:13; Psalms 73:23-28. Psalms 146:2.)

I " will walk before the LORD," as one under his inspection, ’ " in the land of the living," or amongst the redeemed in ’ the church ; until the time come for me to depart hence, ’ and to be numbered with the saints in glory everlasting.’ Up, Home.

V. 10, 11. " 1 believed, and therefore I spoke;" that is, ’ .1 called on God under my distresses, in expectation of help from him alone. But I was so discouraged and afflicted, that in the hurry of my mind, I could place no reliance on any man ; but thought even those deceivers, in whom before I had the greatest confidence.’ Some expositors, supposing that David wrote the psalm, and that during the life of Saul, or very soon after his death, conclude, that he referred to Samuel especially, who had anointed him to the kingdom, as if he had deceived him with vain hopes. Or, on the supposition that David was the writer, and a later date be assigned, (Note, I,) it may be thought that he intended Nathan, by whom he had been assured that Solomon should succeed him.

(Notes, 2 Samuel 7:12-13; 2 Samuel 12:24-25.) He may however, most naturally be supposed to refer to Ahithophel’s treachery, Absalom’s rebellion, and the revolt of Israel ; which so astonished and afflicted him, that he was ready hastily to suspect every one about him : though the event proved, that he had many faithful and zealous friends. But whoever wrote the Psalm, or on whatever occasion ; the Psalmist’s faith in God’s mercy and truth, amidst his fears and suspicions concerning men, remained unshaken, and fully gained the victory. (Note, 2 Corinthians 4:13-18.) The literal rendering is, " I believed, and therefore I will speak:" but the apostle quotes the passage, from the Septuagint, as relating to the past.

V. 12. Some render this verse thus; "What shall I " render unto the LORD ? All his benefits overcome me ! " ’ I am so overwhelmed with his abundant goodness, that I am lost in wonder, and know not how to express my gratitude.’ (Marg-. Ref.)

V. 13. ’I will call all 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 ’ wont to commemorate the blessings we have received,) I ’ will magnify the power, goodness, and faithfulness of ’ God my Saviour before all the company ; and will drink ’ myself, and then give it to them, that they may praise ’ his name together with me.’ Bp. Patrick. It seems to have been customary among the Jews thus to take the cup of deliverances, when celebrating their solemn feasts, as well as when offering sacrifices of thanksgivings for peculiar mercies : and it is thought that our Saviour, complying with this custom at his last passover, thence took occasion to institute the Lord’s supper ; which has ever since been to Christians " the cup of salvation," and a memorial of his immeasurable love, in giving himself to death for their sins ; an outward sign of their receiving him, by faith, as their Salvation, and a seal and ’ pledge to assure ’ them thereof;’ as well as a grateful acknowledgment of the inestimable benefits of which they partake through his atoning sacrifice.

(Notes, Matthew 26:26-29. Luke 22:14-20. 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.)

V. 14. Notes, 17-19. Psalms 22:25; Psalms 66:13-15; Psalms 76:11-12.

V. 15. The Lord accounts the death of his saints a very important event. He will not allow their enemies to cut them off before his appointed time. The circumstances of their death are regulated by infinite wisdom and love, for their final benefit : that solemn season often proves a precious opportunity to the survivors, and tends greatly to the honour of God ; and it always issues in their complete felicity. (Notes,Psalms 72:14. Luke 16:22-23. Acts 18:9-11; Acts 23:11; Acts 27:20-26.) The word rendered " saints," may either mean those who obtain mercy from God, or such as have been taught by him to shew mercy. ’Note, Psalms 30:4.) Our Lord seems to have had it in view, when he said, " Blessed are the merciful, for they shall ob" tain mercy." (Note, Matthew 5:7.)

V. 16. (Note, Ixxxvi. 16.) ’The recent deliverance, which I have experienced, lays me under new and stronger obligations, to serve thee, with all the power and influence which I possess ; and I thus avow my purpose of so doing.’ (Marg. Ref.)

V. 17- 19. "Calling on the name of the LORD" sometimes means, celebrating his praises, and acknowledging his mercies, as well as prayer and supplication. Notes, 1 Chronicles 16:8-9. Is. 12: 4 -6.) The Psalmist, when calling on God for deliverance during his distress, had solemnly vowed to make the most public acknowledgments of his goodness, when his prayer should be answered. And now he brought his thank-offerings to the sanctuary, and there in the presence of all Israel blessed and praised the Lord ; calling on all the congregation, to join him in this reasonable service. (13, 14. Note, Psalms 118:19-24.)


V. 1-9.

We should not only be satisfied and delighted, when " the LORD hath heard our voice and our supplications ; " but should love him on that account, as well as for his own essential excellences, and all his innumerable benefits. Hut we are never so greatly affected with his condescension and kindness, as when he has relieved us out of extreme distress. The poor sinner, when awakened to a sense of his state and character, recollects that he must shortly die, and fears lest he should sink under the righteous and everlasting wrnth of God ; then " the sorrows of death and the " pains of hell get hold of him, and he finds trouble and " sorrow." But let those persons, who are thus distressed and alarmed, without delay, and with all earnestness, " call upon the LORD," and say, " O LORD, I beseech " thee, deliver my soul : " and they will find him most gracious, and true to his promise, and will learn how his perfect justice harmonizes with his abounding mercy: for he is as ready to teach the simple, and uphold the feeble, and defend the poor, who trust in him ; as he is to pardon the guilty, and sanctify the unholy : and, having raised them up from this low estate, they will learn to love him and " call upon him as long as they live." His ways are not as our ways : he pardons criminals, and relieves the indigent, that they may be encouraged to come again and again, and may learn to love prayer ; for " he delighteth " in the prayer of the upright." Let then those " who " labour, and are heavy laden, come to him that they may " find rest to their souls." Let believers keep close to their rest ; and if they be at all drawn from it, let them make haste to return, remembering how " bountifully the " LORD hath dealt with them." Having " delivered ou " souls from death, our eyes from tears, and our feet from " falling," we should deem ourselves bound " to walk before him," and as in his presence. But when we shall enter the heavenly rest, our deliverance from sin and sorrow will be complete; our tears will be finally wiped away, and our feet will no more slip ; but we shall behold the glory of God, and walk in his presence, " in the land of " the living, with inconceivable delight." (Notes, Is. Psalms 25:6-8. Revelation 7:13-17; Revelation 21:22-27.)

V. 10-19.

When we are discomposed by temptations, we had in general better keep silence if possible, for we are apt to speak unadvisedly: (Notes, Psalms 39:1-4; Psalms 39:9-10:) and our conviction of man’s deceitfulness may sometimes lead us, before we are aware, to impeach the divine veracity, and to treat even those as " liars," who would encourage us from the promises of God. But true faith will at length prevail in every conflict ; and, being humbled for our distrust of his sacred word, we shall experience his faithfulness. What shall the redeemed sinner, when his heart is full of joy and gratitude, or what shall any of us, who have been delivered from urgent trouble and distress, " render unto the LORD for all his benefits towards us ? " We cannot in any way profit him, or offer him any thing which he has not first given unto us ; and our best is unworthy of his acceptance : yet we ought to devote ourselves and all we have to his service and glory. (Note, 1 Chronicles 29:10-19.) While we enjoy the comfort of his salvation in our secret communion with him, we should also make an open profession of our faith and love ; and avow our dependence on him and obligations to him, by taking " the " cup of salvation," and remembering the bleeding love of our divine Saviour, in the ordinance which he has instituted for that purpose : thus joining ourselves to him and to his people, and with them calling upon his name, that we may be enabled by his grace to walk consistently with our profession. In this way every sinner, who has found peace and deliverance through the blood of Christ, should " pay his vows in the presence of all his people." Thus every true son of the church, whose bonds have been loosed, and who is become the servant of God, should frequently offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, as well as join in other parts of his solemn worship. (Note, Psalms 40:1-5.) And every believer, when he has received any recent mercy, should express his gratitude, by attending on this memorial of that precious blood-shedding which has purchased all our mercies ; and should avow his purpose of devoting his future life, to the service of the God of his salvation. Such are the true saints of God, in whose lives and deaths he will be glorified : no enemy or event can deduct from their appointed period on earth ; much less shall any destroy their souls. But when the measure of their trials and services is accomplished, their God and Saviour will remove them, in the best manner, to that new Jerusalem, where they will pay their vows with all the redeemed, and offer eternal sacrifices of exalted praise and thanksgiving, " to him who loved them, and washed them from their " sins in his precious blood : " and their bodies also shall at length be raised incorruptible to join the sacred worship, and share that glorious felicity. Let us then " give diligence to make our calling and election sure ; " let us trust the Lord in the path of duty ; let us fear no danger, and decline no difficulty, in his service ; and let us learn to consider the day of our death, as the period of our labours and conflicts, and as our entrance into rest, and glory, and felicity.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 116". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-116.html. 1804.
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