Read Psalm 116
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill 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, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
This psalm is an account of the psalmist calling out to the Lord in a time of great distress. He is overcome with sorrow and close to death. Then he calls out to the Lord, and God hears his cry. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths (Psalm 119:105), so we can look to this psalm as a guide and an encouragement when we find ourselves in a dark place.
Even in the midst of despair, this psalm begins with a declaration of love for the Lord. Deuteronomy 6:5 commands us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” But what if we struggle to love Him? How does this psalmist love God even in the midst of such sorrow? What causes the psalmist to boldly declare his love for the Lord? Verse 1 says it was because the Lord heard his cry for mercy. Verses 6-8 tell how God saved and delivered him. Charles Spurgeon writes, “Answered prayers are silken bonds which bind our hearts to God. When a man’s prayers are answered, love is the natural result.” So, maybe the way to strengthen our love for God is to return to the Lord again and again in prayer asking for help, confident He hears us.
The psalmist’s prayer is not long or wordy or eloquent. He simply says, “Lord, save me.” That’s it. All he did was ask for help. Then a remarkable thing happened. The God of the universe, the one who made the heavens and the earth, “turned His ear” and heard this man’s cry for mercy. We won’t experience answered prayers unless we pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “Pray continually.” Call out to Him. Our God is full of compassion.
The lyrics of an old hymn say:
“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”
As we consistently come to the Lord in prayer with our needs, we will experience the Lord “turning His ear” to us. As the psalmist shows us, this will cause us to love God more, regardless of our circumstances.
- Do you struggle to declare your love for the Lord? Try spending more time in prayer and see if your love for Him deepens.
- What keeps you from praying continually?
- Commit Philippians 4:6-7 to memory: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
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