By Henry Law
The heart of the Psalmist overflows with gratitude for extraordinary mercies. They all demand devoted praise. May the effect on us be increase of heavenly-mindedness!
1-2. "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live."
Senseless is he who ever disregards the answer to the voice of prayer. These answers sweetly constrain us to love the gracious Lord, whose ears are never closed. Moreover, we are thus encouraged to grow more diligent in supplicating cries. The more we pray, the more we gain. The more we gain, the more should we love and adore.
3-4. "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech you, deliver my soul."
Believers are often brought into the lowest depths of distress. Life seems as a flickering spark; but in all extremities prayer can seek aid and never seeks in vain.
5-6. "Gracious is the Lord and righteous; yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He helped me."
The God to whom we thus draw near is full of grace. Tender compassion is ever warm within Him. Experience of this truth is the believer's firmest prop. In frequent need he has never found that help to fail.
7-9. "Return to your rest, O my soul; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living."
Troubles may tend to bring anxiety; but the knowledge of near deliverance keeps peace undisturbed. Under Christ's shadow the soul delights in sweet repose. "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You." Can he be tossed with fears and doubts who rests in Christ as his ark? Where is the fear of death? It has vanished. A gracious hand, also, wipes away all tears from the eye; the feet, also, no longer totter, but walk firmly in the way of life.
10-14. "I believed, therefore have I spoken. I was greatly afflicted. I said in my haste, All men are liars. What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people."
Faith is no silent grace. When it is lively in the heart the mouth will celebrate God's praise. Severity of affliction awakens its powers. It is not slow to confess that when it slumbered, hastiness and unseemly utterances found vent. In disregard of all assurances, pettishness prevailed; but the Psalmist in dark hours had thought that fulfillment would not come. But now he felt shame for such distrust. He remembers the holy rites; he vows that he will gladly drink the cup of blessing, and publicly redeem his promises of holy service.
15. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
Persecution may wildly rage against God's servants. Their lives may be regarded as mere chaff; but different is God's estimate! They are precious in His sight and the high value placed upon them will be evidenced by the signal retribution which will overtake the cruel murderers.
16-19. "O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, and the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord."
Happy is the profession, O Lord, truly I am Your servant! Consecration to God's service is perfect freedom. It is the very happiness of happiness, and raises to angelic life. But to abound in this occupation, Satan's chains must be broken. This only can be effected by the might of Jesus. We are born slaves. He only can set us free. This devotion, also, is a theme of praise and of holy vows. Let us surrender ourselves to this one work. We shall find that we obey a blessed Master, who will pay wages now of abundant happiness and of eternal life hereafter.