Love, Sacrifice and Thanksgiving – Psalms 116:1-19Video Link
This Thursday is the time we celebrate Thanksgiving. A time to gather with family and friends in thankfulness to God for His blessing in our life. How do show thankfulness towards God?
What do you get when you cross a turkey with a centipede? A thanksgiving with no arguments over who gets the drumstick.
What do you get when you cross a turkey with an ostrich? A turkey that sticks its head in the mashed potatoes.
What would you get if you crossed a turkey with a ghost? A poultrygeist!
What do you get when you cross a turkey with the office machine? A turkey with all the faxings.
What do you get when you cross a turkey with a rubber chicken? Pranksgiving!
What do you get when you cross a turkey with a space telescope? A turkey that says, “Hubble, Hubble.”
What do you get when you cross a turkey with an internet search engine? A turkey that says, “Google, Google.”
What do you get when you cross a turkey with ballroom dancing? The turkey trot.
What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo? A turkey that can pluck itself.
What do you get when you cross a turkey with a Baptist preacher? Inbreeding.
Now lets turn to Psalm 116
Psalms 116 is part of a collection of Psalms called the Hallel. Hallel literally means “praise” and is the word Hallelujah comes from. The Hallel is a collection of Psalms from 113-118 and it is included in the morning service on Jewish holidays, Rosh Chodesh (the new moon), Sukkot, Chanukah, Passover, and Shavuot. They are psalms of praise and thanksgiving to God. Most of the Psalms in the Hallel end with Hallelujah (Praise Jehovah) in the KJV it is translated as Praise Ye the Lord.
Psalm 116 is very personal. The pronouns, “I,” “my,” and “me” used over thirty times. It is also a Psalms that was written later in Israel’s history, we don’t know the author, but it borrows its idea and some of its wording from other earlier Psalms, like Psalms18, 27, 31, and 56, and is influenced in its tone by the prayer of King Hezekiah prayer in Isaiah 38 when he was healed of a deadly illness.
Because of it personal, intimate tone, it is a good Psalm for us to meditate upon for our own personal thanksgiving for God’s salvation to us.
Loving The Lord - Psalms 116:1-11
1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars.
The Psalmist Expresses His Love the Lord
The first thing that the psalmist expresses is his love for the Lord and the wonderful reason why he loves God. “I love the LORD, because he hath heard, my voice and my supplications.” This love is a very personal, intimate love. It is not just the love of God from a member of the nation of Israel, but it is a love based upon what God has personally done for him.
He loves the Lord because He heard his cry in vs 1-4. This was a cry of desperation at a very bad time. He says, “3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” The word sorrows in Hebrew is literally the word cords or rope. David is saying he could feel death wrapped around him like being bound with.
One writer put it this way, “The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. - The New King James Version, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 116:3.4
In such hopelessness despair he calls out to Jehovah for salvation, “Adonai, I beseech thee, deliver my soul!”
Vs. 5-7 And verse five tells us that Adonai, the Lord, answered that desperate cry. The Lord, “has delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.”
Now with that answered prayer and the life that the Lord saved, the Psalmist will “walk before the LORD in the land of the living. The idea here is that “he walks forth, in the presence of Jehovah with nothing to hinder his feet or limit his view. His Deliverer is always before his eyes. - Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 5:715.
Vs 10 and 11 are a testimony and a vow. This is what the psalmist has learned and will now do because his experience of despair and God’s deliverance. It is like saying, “I will keep on trusting even when I say, “I am utterly miserable,” even when, in my panic, I declare, “All men are liars.” - David H. Stern, Complete Jewish Bible: An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament), 1st ed., (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1998), Ps 116:10–11.
Love Because The Lord Hears Us
In the midst of deep despair, terrible pain and intolerable conditions of life, we can cry out to God and we know that God will hear our cry. God promises that if we call, He will hear. In the midst of our troubles, in the depths of our sorrow God hears. Even when we call out to Him in the midst of our sinfulness, our rebellion and our doubt and our fears, still He will hear.
Psalms 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
Psalms 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Psalms 55:16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
And the most important cry we can utter, when we call out for the salvation of our souls, God has promised, He will save us.
Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Roman 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
If We call, we are promised redemption by the death of Jesus Christ. Justification by His righteousness. Eternal security by His power and a eternal life by His resurrection.
Romans 5:1-2, 8-11 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. ….But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
And along with the saving of your soul, Jesus also saves our life, giving it meaning and purpose and just wonderful joy. We are saved to live a life with purpose and power, with joy and grace.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Nothing illustrates this better than the story of Matthew Henry when he was robbed.
When the famous commentator and preacher Matthew Henry, was robbed, later that day he wrote in his dairy, "Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before, second because although he took my purse, he did not take my life. Third because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."
Only a person who has been delivered body and soul by the grace of God, could express such thankfulness. I really don’t want to find out firsthand, but I hope I could be as thankful after such an experience as was Matthew Henry.
After the Psalmist expresses his love for the Lord because God has delivered him, he then responds to that love with sacrifices for the Lord. Look at verse 12.
Sacrifices For The Lord - Psalms 116:13-16
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?. I will pay my vows unto 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 thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.
The Psalmist Gives Sacrifices of Thanksgiving
First, the cup of salvation vs 13, “I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD
Drink Offering – This is the drink offering, a sacrifice poured out, as a symbol of being giving to God. It accompanied the peace and burnt offering. It was something extra, above and beyond what was expected offering. All of it was poured out, none was kept back, it could be offered at anytime and it could be offered everyday.
Next the Psalmist, in his thankfulness, promises to “pay my vows in presence of the people. This was like the out poured cup and act of worship and sacrifice.
There are different types of vows in the Old Testament. Foolish ones like Jepthah’s bargain made with God. There were vows of service such as the Nazarite vow. There were also vows of self-dedication and sacrifice for attainment of certain goals, like Saul refusing to eat until all the Philistines had been defeated in a certain battle.
Finally, the Psalmist renders to the Lord, that which the Lord had saved, his own life.
He makes this beautiful statement, Vs. 15 “Precious in the
sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.” This expresses what the Psalmist knows and now better understand because of his near death and God’s deliverance. He knows that to God, the life on of His own is costly, precious, of great value. It is not spent lightly, nor without purpose or reason.
And I think the Psalmist mentions it here because he is saying His life, as precious as it is, should be given into the care and keeping of God. Trusting Him to use that valuable life and make it count now and for eternity. He gives his unconditional, life’s service even unto death. “Precious is my life and my death in the sight and service of my Lord and Savior.”
Live A Life of Thanksgiving
We no longer make sacrifices at the temple, but we can make very strong applications of these sacrifice in our own lives.
In my thankfulness to God, I should give an outpoured life, nothing reserved and nothing held back.
Paul used this same application of his own pending death when he wrote to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:6 “For I am now ready to be offered, (poured out) and the time of my departure is at hand.”
This sacrifice should be our service to the Lord, which be offered at all times and at every opportunity.
And yes, there is still a place for vows in a New Testament believers life. Not a bargain with God but a recognition of what I owe and what I must render to God who has so blessed me. Whether it be my tithe, my attendance, my separation from sin or my willingness to forgive others, there are things that I owe to my Savior and I should pay those vows as I serve Him.
Philippians 3:7-13 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
And yes, each and every one of us should understand what our life is worth in the sight of God. There can be no more fitting sacrifice that our life of service and our death after a life of service to our Lord.
When we realize how much God loves us and values our lives as His most precious possession in this world. So valuable that He gave His own son to purchase it, then shouldn’t I invest my life into His care and keeping? Shouldn’t I give my life wholly and completely without reservation to the One who can use it to its fullest potential and to His greatest glory?
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The Last Supper and the Last Hallel
In Matthew 26 we have the story of the last supper and at the end of that passage in Matthew 26:29-30 we read, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”
In the introduction we told you that Psalm 116 is part of the Hallel and that the Hallel is recited or sung on the eve of Passover. Here Matthew tells us that Jesus, after the Lord’s Supper sang a hymn with his disciples. I think we can rightly interpret that that hymn was the Hallel. This would be the last time Jesus would share the Passover and the last time they all would sing the Hallel together. To them at this time it must have had a deep and significant meaning. Verses like Psalm 116:13 use the word salvation in the KJV which is a translation of the Hebrew the word, yeshuah. It was also the Hebrew pronunciation of Jesus’ name. When the Angel spoke to Joseph, in Matthew 1:20-21 “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Now that doesn’t say as much to us in English as it does in Hebrew. In Hebrew it is closer to this “She will give birth to a son; and you shall call His name Yeshua (salvation), for He will save (yesh) His people from their sins.” - Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, Holy Scriptures: Tree of Life Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015), Mt 1:21.
Jesus and the disciple sang the Hallel and those Psalms of salvation were all about Himself.
In Psalms 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. Jesus was the cup of salvation that would be poured out for our sin.
In Psalm 118:14 The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation (yeshuah). Jesus would become their salvation by his death for their sin.
Later in Psalm 118:21-24, I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Probably the most obvious Messianic verses in the Hallel.
This last supper, final Passover and last singing of the Hallel, had to mean so much the apostles, they knew, they understood the Hallel as they had never understood it before. What was happening right before their eyes was “the day that the Lord has made. Their Rabbi was the outpoured cup of salvation, he was the stone that the builders would reject, but he would become the chief cornerstone.
He would be the reason for them and for us giving our lives as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
The final part of this Psalms from vss. 17-19 is a continuation and a summation of what the Psalmist has said earlier.
Thanks To the Lord - Psalm 116:17-19
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the LORD's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
The Psalmist Reinforces His Thanksgiving
He summarizes and repeats his commitment to be thankful for all that the Lord has done.
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving
I will pay my vows in the presence of the people, in the courts of the Lord’s house in the midst of Jerusalem.
Finally, the Psalms ends with the word that gives the Hallel its name. Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord.
Giving to God, our life and service as our Thanksgiving Offering
In the Old Testament, the Thanksgiving sacrifice was an offering that showed the worshipper’s thankfulness for blessings received from God. The offering was given not only to the Lord, but also it was meant to be shared with the priest and his family, then also with the family of the one who brought the sacrifice and with the Levite in his community.
And a vital part of our rendering to God is to be our own life, offered as a Thanksgiving. A life lived in such a manner as to show my thankfulness by giving back to God and by sharing and giving to those God has placed in my life. A thankful, sacrificial life must be seen by spending and investing that life for the Lord and on behalf of others.
Conclusion, Thanksgiving: A word or A life?
To the child of God, to the redeemed of the Lord, to the church of the Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving must be more than just a word, or a holiday that rolls around once a year. Thanksgiving to us should be, as it was to the Psalmist, an outpoured life of sacrifice given as an thanksgiving offering to the One who has delivered our soul and our life.
That life of thanksgiving should be given until our deaths in service to God, in paying a debt of gratitude for all He has done and in sharing those blessings with those God has placed in our lives. There is no other, more appropriate way to thank God for His gift of salvation, than to take that life that was saved and offer it to Him in lifelong service.