It is easy for those who are strong and healthy to forget how many tears of sorrow and grief are shed every day. All around this aching world—perhaps in your own home or in your heart this very week—sadness abounds. Tears fall. Grief has you in its grip. And it can happen so fast.
I remember speaking with a young man on our support staff at a church I once served. He was all smiles about his future, such a contagious fellow. But before nightfall that same day he was killed in an automobile-motorcycle collision. In a matter of hours, laughter turned to tears. His family suddenly found themselves grieving his absence. Such is the groan of humanity.
The composer of Psalm 116 understood the grind of grief and sorrow all too well. We don't know the details of what brought the psalmist to his knees in mourning; we can only surmise from the clues he offers in the lyrics of this ancient lament that it involved death. He states that "the cords of death encompassed" him as well as "the terrors of Sheol" (the grave). He admits that he "found distress and sorrow" in whatever he was enduring. A few lines later he declares that he was "brought low" and the Lord rescued his "eyes from tears." Then, somehow, his God put him back on his feet so firmly and brought back his perspective so clearly, he was able to write, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones" (Psalm 116:15).
Amazing! From the pit to the pinnacle . . . from agony to ecstasy. The same one who begins the song in the dark valley of sorrow and grief (116:1–2) ends it in the most magnificent statement of praise a Jew could utter: "Hallelujah!" (116:19), which is translated, "Praise the Lord."
The psalmist, after passing through the deep valley of grief, sits down and recounts his experience. The song is his personal testimony; first, of his love for the Lord who saw him through the turbulent waters of distress, sorrow, and grief (116:1–11); and second, of his desire to return his thanks to the Lord for seeing him through it all (116:12–19). In outline form, the song could appear:
I love the Lord! (116:1–11)
- Because He hears me (116:1–2)
- Because He rescues me (116:3–6, 8–11)
- Because He cares for me (116:7)
What shall I render to the Lord? (116:12–19)
- I shall proclaim His benefits (116:12–13)
- I shall pay my vows (116:14, 18–19)
- I shall praise His name (116:15–17)
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.