Wednesday Morning Meditation – Psalms
I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living. I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my haste, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 116)
There are many reasons to praise the Lord and none as appealing as when death has been deferred. The circumstance of the psalm and its author is unknown but the situation is timeless. Death was eminent and by his pleading for God’s mercy he was delivered. He was worried. It would seem his condition was very serious with little hope of deliverance. The mercies of God were bestowed upon him as he was delivered from the bonds of death. His heart was filled with thanksgiving. He knew the power to pray for deliverance but he also knew the need to pray with a heart of thanksgiving. The experience had served its purpose of showing how much he loved the Lord and how much he was blessed to be in His grace. The prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Prayer can be difficult. We want immediate answers with visible results. Often prayers are motivated by selfish reasons for personal gain. This is not uncommon to man as we struggle with this thing called life. There is a strong bond to hold on to the things of the world unwilling to let go. Family relationships, desires for life drive the emotions to long for deliverance from death. In this psalm the writer has been delivered from death yet he knows that if his prayer had not been answered with life it would still be a beautiful prayer. He loves the Lord because of his deliverance. His heart is grateful for the Lord hearing his cry. The graciousness of the Lord and mercy preserved him and saved him. His prayer was answered in the bountiful blessings of his God. But then he inserts the seed of hope that if his prayer had been answered by his death it would still be reason to love the Lord. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
What a testimony of faith. There were no words to describe how happy he was to be brought back to the living. While his gratitude was immense he was also thankful that if death overtook him his prayer would have been answered. Prayer is the dual relationship of desiring life but accepting death as life also. His answered prayer was not selfish. It was praise to God because whatever happens the Lord will be glorified.
I need to learn to pray like that. It is easy to pray and expect God to do my bidding. Like our Savior expressed in the garden, the will of God must be done in our lives for His glory. The Lord answers our prayers with “yes” every time because whether the prayer is granted as we desire or not it is always the will of God. I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.
When has any man of prayer told us that prayer has failed him? (Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest, 1937)