When the Trial Is Over
I love the Lord, because He hears [and continues to hear]My voice and my supplications (my pleas, my cries, my specific needs). Because He has inclined His ear to me,Therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords and sorrows of death encompassed me,And the terrors of Sheol came upon me;I found distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord:“O Lord, please save my life!” Gracious is the Lord, and [consistently] righteous;Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord protects the simple (childlike);I was brought low [humbled and discouraged], and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul,For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my life from death,My eyes from tears,And my feet from stumbling and falling. I will walk [in submissive wonder] before the LordIn the land of the living. I believed [and clung to my God] when I said,“I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm,“All men are liars.” What will I give to the Lord [in return]For all His benefits toward me?[How can I repay Him for His precious blessings?] I will lift up the cup of salvationAnd call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord,Yes, in the presence of all His people. Precious [and of great consequence] in the sight of the LordIs the death of His godly ones [so He watches over them]. O Lord, truly I am Your servant;I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid;You have unfastened my chains. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,And will call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord,Yes, in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house (temple)—In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)
A little girl asked her Sunday School teacher why Jesus first came to His disciples in the Garden and said, “Watch and pray,” but the last time He just said, “Sleep on and take your rest.”(Matthew 26: 41-45)
The teacher did not immediately respond. Then the child spoke again. “I think I know. It was because Jesus had seen the face of His Father and He didn’t need their help anymore.”
In Psalm 116, this fourth of the Hallel(praise) psalms- which Jesus most likely sang with His disciples after the Last Supper- fervent thanksgiving is offered to the Lord for a recent deliverance from trial. As Jesus entered His deepest valley of suffering, this testimony of the Psalmist served as an encouragement that all will end well also for Him,
If you believe the Scripture that endurance, character, and hope issue from suffering(Romans 5: 3-5), then let this psalm encourage you even if you are in a severe personal trial. The psalm tells how you’ll feel when you’re on safe ground again.
When we cry because we hurt so badly we don’t have the words to describe the pain, we are never alone for God hears our grief. We will always love the best the One who stands with us in our greatest need(verse 1,2).
We know that Jesus experienced the powerful entangling pull of death that took Him into the grave. Our trial may be dragging us into graves of depression and hopelessness. If that’s the case, keep taking the antidote: “Then I called on the name of the Lord; O Lord, save me!”(verse 4).
The Lord may not save us from our dilemma all at once. He just might instead untie the knots of the cords that bind us one at a time. In either case, we know we can count on Him because He is full of compassion, righteous, and gracious.(verses 5,6).
Affliction brings distress and when the storm is over, like the writer of this psalm, we may talk to ourselves in an atmosphere of peace(verse 7).
In Psalm 116, the psalmist looks back on the harrowing passage where death stared him in the face. He lost his footing, knew great affliction and betrayal, and wept. Far too often we turn to human resources for answers in our troubles, but today the Lord is calling us to trust Him and Him alone. We know our trial is indeed great if the Lord is the only One who could pull us out. If that’s the case can we imitate the psalmist by placing the words “I believe” before our lament, “I am greatly afflicted”(verse 10). Then we look to the face of the Father.
What means have we to truly thank God after He brings us out of a difficult place?(verse 12)
Psalm 116 tells that the psalmist does this by keeping the promises made to the Lord while he was in trial. Therefore he goes to the temple for the presentation of the drink and meat offerings of thanks(verses 13-19).
We, as the followers of Christ, bring a different kind of sacrifice, the continual offering of our lives to the Lord, our praise and worship, and doing good to others.
One of the familiar phrases that is used for comfort at funerals is: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”(verse 15). The better translation is this: “Costly in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Assuming the latter is correct, it’s the psalmist’s way to link us with the Lord’s purposes by stating that our removal from the earth is costly to His work on earth. It supports our plea of rescue to God: “Please let me live a while longer because there’s a work I have yet to do for You and I’m afraid it won’t get done without me.”
It is appropriate to understand that when God delivers us and frees us from chains of bondage, we will be more effective servants of God. Our grateful hearts of surrender to the Lord leads to freely flowing thanksgiving and praise.(verse 17-19).
Dr. John Thompson