Psalms 115-118 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints

From Psalms 115-118

19 Psalms Fragment

The psalmist once feared death. He cried out to the LORD and the LORD saved him. Now he praises the LORD for his grace, righteousness and mercy. Today’s psalm is about thanking God for salvation. Read this psalm and see if it inspires you to thank the LORD.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.


Ps 115.1-18; Book Five; Unknown; To Your Name Give Glory

Ps 116.1-19; Book Five; Unknown; I Love the LORD

Ps 117.1-2; Book Five; Unknown; The LORD’s Faithfulness Endures Forever

Ps 118.1-29; Book Five; Unknown; His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Passage and Comments

The psalmist tells his story and explains why he loves the LORD.

116 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.

2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!” (Ps 116:1-4)

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

The psalmist cried out to the LORD for mercy. He was about to die so he prayed. And the LORD inclined his ear and delivered him. For this reason he loves the LORD.

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

6 The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;

9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Ps 116:5-9)

In turn he describes the LORD as gracious, righteous and merciful. The LORD is gracious – kind, gentle, and generous. He is righteous – Just, loyal and faithful. He is merciful – compassionate, forgiving.

How would you describe the LORD?

The psalmist was brought low, made simple. At this time, just at the right time the LORD saved him. Saved him from death. So now he lives. Not in Sheol, but in the land of the living. The psalmist was crying in fear and sorrow. Now he vows to walk before the LORD.

10 I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”;

11 I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.” (Ps 116:10-11)

The psalm doesn’t say much about his predicament. Clearly he was suffering. The statement ‘all mankind are liars’ suggests he was betrayed by others. Perhaps some promised him to help, but later reniged.

In response to being delivered by the LORD, the psalmist questions the best way to thank him.

12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,

14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. (Ps 116:12–14)

He will lift up the cup of salvation. The cup represents his portion. What he has received. He has been saved.

He says he will call upon the LORD. He will pray. Right now he will give thanks.

He will pay his vows to the LORD. No doubt in his distress he made promises to God of what he would do if he was saved. Now he intends to fulfill those vows in the presence of others. In doing so the people will know of the LORD’s salvation and encouraged by the thanksgiving of the psalmist.

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

16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.

17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.

18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD! (Ps 116:15–19)

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. The Saints are the people of the LORD. In the Old Testament, God’s people are normally called the righteous. The psalmist says precious in his sight are their deaths. The psalmist knows the LORD cares for him. He is precious in the LORD’s sight (Isa 43.4)

The LORD cares deeply when his people suffer and die. Because good fathers love their children.

The psalmist dedicates himself to the LORD saying ‘I am your servant’, ‘I am your servant’. He repeats his earlier promises. He will call on the name of the LORD. He will pray. He will fulfill his vows before the people. So the people in the temple, in Jerusalem will know.

Story of Jesus

Jesus cares about his people. He is deeply moved when they suffer and when they die. He cares deeply about the world.

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (Jn 11:17–27)

Martha recognises he will rise again on the last day. But Jesus makes a further point that as the promised Christ, all who believe in Him will never die, they live on.

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.

36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” (Jn 11:28–37)

The creator of the universe was deeply moved in spirit and cried. For he sees the suffering of those around him. Jesus will go on to raise Lazarus from the dead. He is the Christ, the Son of God who has come into the world.

If you are suffering. If you grieve the loss family or friends. Take comfort in Jesus’ words. ‘Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.’

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. You will see them again.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.