I think I’ve loved this psalm ever since I heard a song based on the Living Bible version of it.
The Living Bible puts it something like this,
I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them.
Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe. (1-2)
Somehow those words, “He bends down and listens” have always struck me. That he cares enough about me that he would bend down to hear my every word. As a father of a four year old, I love to move down to her level (or bring her up to mine) to talk to her. Not only to hear her words more clearly, but to see her face, and especially her eyes more clearly as we talk.
That’s what God does with us. Especially in the darkest times. The writer of this psalm talks of his own dark times.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” (3-4)
And when God reached down in his compassion and grace, the psalmist sang,
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. (7)
One thing that we learn from this psalm is that just because we are following God, that does not mean we’ll be problem-free.
The psalmist writes,
I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” (10)
The apostle Paul quotes this passage in II Corinthians 4 as he talks about his own problems. That though he was hard-pressed, he was not crushed; though he was perplexed, he was not in despair; though he was persecuted, he was not abandoned; though he was struck down, he was not destroyed. (8-9)
He goes on to say that though he suffered for the gospel, the life of Jesus shone through him, bringing life to those he preached to (10-12).
And so he says in the same spirit of the psalmist, “I believed, therefore I have spoken.” (13)
In other words, “I am more than glad to go through dark times and to be afflicted that the gospel may be preached.”
And so Paul concludes,
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (16-18)
The psalmist, having been delivered by the Lord, also turns his eyes to the eternal, praising the Lord, and giving his life to serve him. He sang,
How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:12-14)
As with the psalmist, God has set us free from our chains. So let us serve him freely from our hearts, offering a sacrifice of praise, and telling the people around us of what he’s done for us that they may be set free from the darkness too.