A Life of Thanks to God – Psalm 116

Psalm 116
A Life of Thanks to God 11/25/18
I trust you too are deeply grateful to the Lord we can gather together this morning as His worshippers.
Of all people on earth, we as Christians have the greatest reason for thanksgiving to God. We really do. We are of all people most blessed.
Far and beyond every earthly blessing is God blessing us with so great a Savior. For Jesus Christ has rescued us as Christians from eternal destruction and death.
I heard earlier this week about the interesting Thanksgiving tradition in our country that was continued again this year. It actually began decades ago in response to those who claimed it was cruel to eat turkeys.
Of all the 46 million turkeys destined to be killed and put on the dinner table this Thanksgiving, the president pardoned two. They were named “Peas and Carrots.” They had quite the royal treatment. Before their big day at the White House, the big toms enjoyed special accommodations, including a luxurious two-night stay at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel and a special spa day. Then they crossed the street to the White House for the pardon ceremony. One of the turkeys even made a guest appearance in the press briefing room before his pardon, where he took a turn at the podium. Because of the presidential pardon, they’ll retire these two toms to Gobblers Rest at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA never to face the threat of death.
Those 2 turkeys will never understand how much they have been spared from. And they don’t even have the capacity to express thanks.
But friends, if you are in Christ, you have received the greatest pardon in the universe.
You have been set free from the sin and death and hell and eternal separation from God.
Here’s what’s so strange. While we as ransomed sinners have the God-given capacity to thank God, we do that so little.
We often are more preoccupied with daily concerns of life and aren’t amazed at God’s love for us.
Think about your personal prayer life. To what degree do you overflow with profuse praise and thanks to God?
And when you pray, what portion of the time is dominated by expressing your gratitude to God?
You see, for most of us, apart from our annual
observance of Thanksgiving, we aren’t
preoccupied daily by exuberant thanksgiving to
God.
And beloved, God wants to change that in us for
His glory and our joy in Him.
Because it is truly “good to give thanks to the
LORD.” Psalm 92:1
Turn with me if you would to Psalm 116 where
God show us how we can come to more fully
enjoy a life of thanks to Him.
Psalm 116 I love the LORD, because He hears
My voice and my supplications. 2 Because He
has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call
upon Him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death
encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came
upon me; I found distress and sorrow. 4 Then I
called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I
beseech You, save my life!” 5 Gracious is the
LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is
compassionate. 6 The LORD preserves the
simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.
7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD
has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For You have
rescued my soul from death, My eyes from
tears, My feet from stumbling. 9 I shall walk
before the LORD In the land of the living. 10
I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” 11
I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” 12 What
shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits
toward me?
13 I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon
the name of the LORD. 14 I shall pay my vows to
the LORD, oh may it be in the presence of all His
people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD Is
the death of His godly ones. 16 O LORD, surely I
am Your servant, I am Your servant, the son of
Your handmaid, You have loosed my bonds. 17
To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I shall
pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the
presence of all His people, 19 In the courts of the
LORD’S house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!
Glory to God for His life-changing Word!
This Psalm is part of a cluster of 6 praise
psalms, chapter 113 to 118.
Though we can’t be certain who penned Psalm
116, it is clear the author exudes a huge heart
for God that delights in calling upon Him and
thanking Him.
This chapter divides into 2 major sections- what
God does for us as believers (1-11) and then in
turn what He deserves from us. (12-19).
It is so good for us through this psalm to be as it
were in the prayer room with this man of God as
he lays bare his heart before the Lord.
At the very outset of his prayer we hear him
make a most wonderful declaration: “I love the
Lord!
Now we use the word “love” so many ways in
conversation. We say we love our spouses, our
children, friends, and some even claim to “love”
their pets. We love long weekends, we love
stunning sunsets, and we love savory meals.
Yet the writer uses the word love far differently
than enjoying tasty food. The Hebrew word
AHAB conveys passionate delight, strong
affection, and close friendship with another.
AHAB is a love that has a strong emotional bond
for someone. It’s the eager desire to be in the
presence of the object of one’s love.
That’s the kind of intense love relationship this
saint experiences with God. And that is why his
prayer is so saturated with God Himself.
While the writer could have chosen from many
names of God, he uses God’s most personal
name, YHWH. And he says God’s name,
YHWH 14 times in this very chapter! Here a
man consumed with God and not himself!
He loves God so much that he loves to talk with
him very personally.
Yet what motivates his fiery love for God?
What causes him and us to enjoy such intimate
friendship with God?
1. He hears our prayers 1-5
He tells us in verse 1,“I love the LORD,
because He hears my voice and my
supplications.”
Do you realize what the psalmist is saying?
He is saying, God, I love you for what You do for
Me!” But doesn’t that sound selfish and selfserving,
loving God for what we get from him?
Friends, our love for God is always in response
to all that He has done for us. “We love” says
the apostle John, “because He first loved us” (I
John 4,19).
The writer has such strong affections for God
because he knows God is always alert to his
prayers.
But God is more than just alert to our prayers.
Verse 2 tells us that he is inclined to our prayers:
The psalmist testifies of God, “He has inclined
His ear to me…”
This pictures the heartfelt response of a father
who stoops down to carefully listen to what’s on
his little child’s heart.
Beloved in Christ, our heavenly father has a
compassionate heart for us as His children.
He’s not put out, when we come to him with
concerns on our heart and say with hearts of
intimacy and respect, “Abba, Father…”
Romans 8:15 tells us that as Christians, we
“have received a spirit of adoption as sons
by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
Yes, God delights in meeting us at our every
point of need. He loves hearing our prayers and
coming to our aid.
Notice in the first part of verse 3 how the writer
describes the extreme situation God saved him
from. “The cords of death encompassed me,
and the terrors of Sheol came upon me…”
Death had stalked him, surrounded him, and
subjected his soul to deep anxiety.
That’s why he explains, “I found (the idea is
suffered from) distress and sorrow.”
That word “distress” (tsarah in the Hebrew)
describes intense emotional pain.
And the term “sorrow” (yagown) speaks of
mental anxiety that is experienced.
All of us know what it’s like to feel burdened and
overwhelmed with certain challenges we face.
We can so easily begin to lose joy and lack
peace when tough circumstances rock our lives.
Look with me at what the Psalmist does in his
desperate condition.
Verse 4: “Then I called upon the name of the
LORD: “O LORD, I beseech Thee, save my
life!”
What’s he doing? He’s running to God in
prayer.
He does exactly what the prophet Jonah did
after being jettisoned into the ocean and then
finding himself in the stomach of a great fish.
Listen to Jonah’s graphic and plea for help:
Jonah 2:2 “I called out of my distress to the
LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help
from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.
5 “Water encompassed me to the point of
death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds
were wrapped around my head. 6 “I
descended to the roots of the mountains. The
earth with its bars was around me forever….”
Have you been there? No one to turn to but
God. So you get on your knees and plead for
Him to rescue you in your impossible situation.
Fellow believer, God delights in coming to your
rescue when you cry out to Him in desperation.
He has done that in the lives of each one of us
that were once drowning in a sea of sin.
He heard our cries for help and extended to us
the lifeline of salvation in Christ.
But why? Why would God care to save us when
we were His rebel enemies, corrupt to the core,
and dead in our sins?
Why does God respond to our prayers at all?
Verse 5 tells us:
“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes,
our God is compassionate.”
You see, God’s saving and caring for us as His
children is rooted in His character.
He is merciful, kind, and gracious. God delights
in helping the helpless.
2. He helps us 6
And that is exactly what the psalmist testifies of
in verse 6: “The Lord preserves (the idea is
guards) the simple; I was brought low, and He
saved me.”
That Hebrew word save, YASHA, is the root
from which come the names Joshua and Jesus.
It describes God’s active love that rescues and
helps us.
Beloved of God, realize that your heavenly father
truly loves hearing you. And he loves helping you!
3. He heals our hurting hearts 7-8
Look at this divine benefit in verse 7:
“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the
LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” This
is so good. Because it tells us that God is the
soul’s rest and gives us that as we pray.
Our hearts can get so agitated from countless
disappointments and discouragements.
Yet what do we do with these burdens? The
proneness of our flesh is to let the feelings eat
away at our hearts.
Yet the Psalmist shows that we must speak to
our agitated souls. Yes, we must tell ourselves
to turn back to enjoy the rest and refreshment
that is ours in God’s presence. “Soul, return to
your rest” in the LORD.”
Christian, don’t listen to your fickle feelings
whatever they may be.
Rather, speak truth to your soul of God’s
presence and power in your life. Recall to your
mind the magnificence of God and all that is
yours in Him- EVERYTHING!
That’s what the Psalmist does in verse 8. He
recounts how God kept his soul from death, his
eyes from tears and his feet from stumbling.
And because of that, his heart is infused with
greater faith for the future. He says, “I will walk
before the Lord in the land of the living.”
God gives rest to our weary souls and faith to
press on as we pray.
Yet what are we to make of the writer saying in
verses 10, “I believed when I said, “I am
greatly afflicted.”
The words “I believed” don’t refer to his believing
that he was suffering but rather to the last part of
verse 9. He believed he would walk in the very
presence of God. He is convinced to the core
God would bring him through this time of trial.
And his statement that “all men are liars” shows
us 2 great realities he saw so clearly.
In time of great difficulty, sooner or later, people
will let you down. They aren’t reliable in their
ways or words and can’t be your object of trust.
That, friends, elevates the fact that God is the
only One who is completely trustworthy.
The prophet Jeremiah knew this so well.
He had shed many a tear when others had let
him down.
And he declares as God’s mouthpiece in
Jeremiah 17:5,7 “Thus says the LORD,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
and makes flesh his strength.7 “Blessed is
the man who trusts in the LORD and whose
trust is the LORD.”
“In my alarm”- literally says “in my terror, in my
agitation.”
While serving Christ in the ministry now for 30
years, there have been great blessings and joys.
But there have also been those that have
dishonored the Lord and caused me pain.
I have seen dozens who have professed faith in
Christ, even been baptized only to return to the
world.
Yes, friends, co-workers, and at times even
fellow believers will disappoint us and let us
down. Count on it. But God in his unchanging
love will never let you down. He will never
disappoint you. Never!
Instead, He promises to hear you, help you, and
heal your hurting heart. Because of all of that
the author asks the pressing question in verse
12:
“What shall I render to the LORD for all His
benefits toward me? In other words, God, I
owe you SOOOO much, what can I do to
somehow show the depth of my gratitude?
From what God has done for us the psalmist
now focuses our attention on-
B. What God deserves from us 12-19
Look at the first response in verse 13.
Verse 13, “I shall lift up the cup of salvation.”
What is he talking about? This parallels verse 15
in which the writer replaces the cup of salvation
with the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
The cup of salvation refers to the O.T. drink
offering which was poured out as part of the
thanksgiving offering to God.
Leviticus 7 and Numbers 15 describe these
libation offerings priests would offer to God as a
soothing aroma.
While we as N.T. Christians are not called to
offer up a drink offering, we are to offer God the
sacrifice of thanksgiving:
Heb. 13:15 “Through Him then, let us
continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to
God, that is the fruit of lips that give thanks
to His name.”
May God cure our hearts from ingratitude and
ungratefulness to Him. Oh that our
conversations, prayers, and songs to God would
be filled with more heartfelt gratefulness to God.
For He has opened the window of heaven and
blessed us with His Son and every spiritual
blessing including answered prayer.
We owe God hearts of thanks yes, but what else
can we give to the Lord for all his benefits to us?
The author continues in verse 13, “I shall lift up
the cup of salvation “and call upon the name
of the LORD.”
This is fascinating. The author is saying, “I will
show God my appreciation by asking him for
more.” Now this is very strange to our way of
thinking.
Imagine that you ran out of gas on the way from
the store. You are stuck and have to figure
whom to call or even if you might walk to the
closest gas station to buy a couple gallons of
gas.
Then to your great surprise, you see a tow truck
pull off the road and give you a 5-gallon
container of gas you can put in your tank. You
notice on the side of the tow truck that he’s from
the gas station right down the road.
He just gives you the gas and tells you to return
the container when convenient.
How would you show appreciation? By saying
thank you and then returning the container full of
gas and even throw in a few dollars?
But if you said to him, “Sir, I so much appreciate
what you have done that I would like to you to fill
up my entire gas tank.”
Instead of feeling appreciated he would feel
used. But friends, not with God. The right
response to receiving from God and the way to
show appreciation to Him is to ask Him for more.
Why? Because He has limitless resources and
delights in hearing us call upon Him!
That’s exactly what he said in verse 2:
“because He inclined His ear to me, therefore
I shall call upon Him as long as I live.” And he
says virtually the same thing in verse 17:
“To You I shall offer a sacrifice of
thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the
LORD.”
Do you remember how God told Jeremiah the
prophet to do that, “Call to Me, and I will
answer you, and I will show you great and
mighty things, which you do not know.”
Jer. 33:3
That’s what God wants, and that’s what the
psalmist is doing in our psalm. He’s calling on
God’s name. In fact, it’s emphasized throughout
this chapter. Verse 2, verse 4, verse 13, and
verse 17 all highlight calling upon the Lord.
Do you want to show God your appreciation?
Call upon Him more and more. Trust him to use
you in new ways to minister here at Hope In
Christ Bible Church. Believe him for the
strength for victory over sin. Ask Him to make
you a conduit of His grace to the not-yet-saved
and watch Him use powerfully transform their
lives through your prayers.
A missionary with whom Sonya and I had the
privilege of getting to know in the Philippines
was a single lady named Linda.
Linda and the Filipino church with which she
was working began an evangelistic outreach
training time. They emphasized biblical
evangelism and prayer. The Christians in the
church that were being trained then were divided
up into groups.
Linda recounted that her group was particularly
devoted to faithful prayer. They would pray daily
with hearts of faith that God would save
Catholics with whom they would be sharing the
gospel.
Well at the end of the several months of training,
they had a time of evaluation. All of the groups
had many opportunities to share Christ with the
lost. Yet there was only one group that had seen
many come to faith in Christ- that was Linda’s
group that prayed fervently and faithfully for God
to bless. And He did!
Friends, that’s James 5:16 “The effective
prayer of a righteous man can accomplish
much.”
And the counterpart, James 4:2, “You do not
have because you do not ask!”
Friends, God eagerly awaits our calling upon
him in prayer and trusting Him for the
impossible.
The Psalmist did that and actively trusted God
for both his life and death. And in speaking of
death in verse 15 he affirms that the death of the
godly ones or saints is a precious thing in God’s
eye. Why?
Because God honors their heart of faith and
ushers into His presence those who have
entrusted their souls to him!
So we show our gratitude to God by thanking
God, by actively trusting God, and lastly by
2. Testifying publicly of God 18-19
Verse 14: “I shall pay my vows to the LORD,
Oh may it be in the presence of all His
people.”
And verse 18 repeats this longing!
Here’s this man’s driving desire- he wants to “go
public” with his personal testimony of what God
has done.
Why is it so important for the Psalmist to praise
God before God’s people?
Because he knows that God’s work in his life
through prayer must be shared with others. He
can’t wait to testify of God’s goodness to him as
he anticipates gathering with God’s redeemed in
the temple of Jerusalem (19).
His vow made in time of trouble wasn’t about his
bargaining with God. It’s a confident
commitment to praising God!
As God grows us in closer communion with
Himself in prayer, He will give us a deep desire
to testify of His goodness before believers.
In fact, that should be our great anticipation as
we meet with God and His church-to declare to
one another the mighty deeds of our awesome
God.
That’s what we see throughout the psalms.
Those who walk close with God love to tell of
God’s praise when His people are gathered.
Listen to the heart resolve of David to declare
God’s greatness among the redeemed.
Psalm 22:22,25 “I will tell of Your name to
my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I
will praise You. 25 From You comes my
praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my
vows before those who fear Him.”
Psalm 35:18 “I will give You thanks in the
great congregation; I will praise You among
a mighty throng.”
Maybe you think you have an out with public
praise to God if you have a quiet personality.
Maybe you don’t normally like to talk in a group.
Child of God, that doesn’t matter. God will help
you break that barrier of fear, being too
concerned about what others think, when you
are deeply moved by who He is and all He has
done for us.
And by the way, public praise to God by ALL
believers isn’t an option to consider. It’s a
command to obey.
Psalm 111:1 “Praise the LORD! I will give
thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the
company of the upright and in the
assembly.”
Psalm 149:1 “Praise the LORD! Sing to the
LORD a new song, and His praise in the
congregation of the godly ones.”
Let me encourage you Hope In Christ Bible
Church. If God has saved you and lives in you,
that means He is powerfully at work in your life.
So don’t let anything keep you from speaking up
about Him especially when we gather as His
people.
At CARE groups, Bible studies, our prayer
meeting, why we should each be regularly,
joyfully, and unashamedly sharing publicly of our
God’s greatness.
That includes when we have times of prayer
together. Yes, listen as God’s people around
you pray aloud to God. And from a heart in love
with God, let your lips flow with praise to Him.
During informal times of fellowship. After this
service this morning, ask others what God is
teaching them and how He is growing them in
Christlikeness.
Then whether they ask you in response of not,
for God’s glory, tell them from His Word and
from Your walking with Him how He is worthy to
be praised.
And don’t forget. Let God’s praises be sung
from your lips so that others around you can
hear of His greatness.
Remember, the purpose and point of singing our
praises to God includes the goal of affecting
others around us.
After the apostle Paul calls us as God’s people
in Eph. 5:18(-19) to “not get drunk with
wine… but be filled with the Spirit, he then
says what will follow: “speaking to one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing and making melody with your
heart to the Lord”
Friends, a life filled with the Spirit of God results
in a mouth filled with praise to God among His
people!
I love how the fifth book of the Psalms, chapter
107 calls us to a life of public thanks to God:
Psalm 107:1–2 “Oh give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good, for His lovingkindness is
everlasting. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD
say so, Whom He has redeemed from the
hand of the adversary.”
The writer closes Psalm 116 with one word that
expresses all that is in his heart because of all
that God has done through prayer. Hallelujah!
And you know what that means- Praise the Lord!
And fellow believers, I want to give you an
opportunity now to publicly praise God in the
congregation of His redeemed people.
If you are filled with thanks to God for how he
hears your prayers, would you say, PRAISE
THE LORD?
If you are grateful that he has rescued you from
a life of sin and death, let’s hear your Praise the
Lord.
And if you want to bless God for how he alone
can give your soul rest and peace, let’s say
PRAISE THE LORD.
O may we never forget to live with hearts of
thanks to the Lord.
One day toward the end of Christ’s ministry on
earth he entered a village and saw an awful site
in the distance. 10 leprous men.
These lepers knew of Jesus’ reputation to heal
and began yelling at the top of their lungs, “
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
You see, they had one of the most gruesome
diseases of the day- leprosy.
Leprosy destroys the body since there is no
feeling of pain. That’s why lepers’ hands, feet
and noses just wear off. It also damages internal
organs.
Here was their awful plight. Since there was no
cure for leprosy, they would live in miserable
isolation separated from everyone in society
including their families.
Jesus tells them to show themselves to the
priests which required faith in His word.
All 10 of them obey. And as they were going to
the priest, their leprosy just disappears. They
were healed!
And one of them, a half-breed Samaritan, (v. 15)
when he saw that he had been healed, turned
back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and
he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks
to [Jesus].
What about the rest of the cured lepers?
Listen to what follows from the mouth of Jesus.
Verse 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were
there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where
are they? 18 “Was no one found who returned
to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
You see, Jesus healed those lepers not just for
their benefit but for God’s blessing.
Here’s the point. It’s not just that we should be
thankful in general.
It’s that we should be thankful to the One who
has done the most for us- Jesus!
For He laid down His life on the cross for those
cursed with deadly disease of the soul- death.
And He gave us life, and joy, and peace in
Himself forever.
For all this we must love to exclaim over and
over again, “Thanks be to God for His
indescribable gift!”
——
Let’s give thanks to the Lord together in prayer.
Our most gracious God and merciful heavenly
Father. You tell us that You are enthroned on
the praises of Your people.
So, we thank You for making us Your people.
You have rescued us our souls, You have
delivered us from the domain of darkness and
transferred us in to the kingdom of Your dear
Son.
We pray that You will overwhelm us with our
debt of gratitude and praise to You.
Father, deliver us from spiritual timidity. Change
us from being far too preoccupied with ourselves
and far too little overwhelmed by Christ.
Make us we pray a people filed with awe, and
praise and thanks to You. Open our lips that we
might speak and sing and shout of You are great
God and King.
And God as we love to ask of You as well. Save
those you have put in our lives and placed on
our hearts. We yield ourselves to You. Glorify
Your name in us and through us we pray to the
praise of the glory of Your grace, Amen.
Psalm 116
HCBC A Life of Thanks to God 11/25/18
Intro. Psalm 92:1
A. What God does for us as believers 1-11
I John 4,19; Rom. 8:15; Jonah 2:2-6
1. He hears our prayers
2. He helps us
3. He heals our hurting hearts
B. What God deserves from us 12-19
Jer. 17:5,7; Heb. 13:15, Jer. 33:3; James 5:16;
James 4:2
1. Thanksgiving
2. Trust
3. Testifying publicly
Psalm 22:22,25
Psalm 35:18
Psalm 111:1
Psalm 149:1
Eph. 5:18-19
Psalm 107:1–2
Luke 17:11–19
II Cor. 9:15
God, how would you have me grow in a life of
thanks to You for all You are and all You have
done for me?