Scripture: I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2 ESV
Observation: Psalm 116 (likely authored by David) is the fourth of six psalms categorized as the Egyptian Hallel psalms. Hallel is the Hebrew word for “praise,” and “Egyptian” refers to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. There are two other sets of Hallels: the Great Hallels (Psalms 120-134) and the concluding Hallels (Psalms 146-150). Traditionally, Jews would sing these psalms during the three major feasts. However, the Egyptian Hallels held a special place in the Passover liturgy (sung before and after the seder meal).
In our psalm, verse 1 above sets the tone for its entirety. The original Hebrew text reads: “I love because Yahweh has heard my cry, my plea.” It is the basis for why David will call on Yahweh as long as he lives (verse 2). In other words, David trusts in his Lord’s loving care because God first revealed his love for David—which corroborates with the heart of John’s first epistle: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Takeaway: While some may argue that David’s affection for his Lord is conditional, we might consider that we are incapable of knowing love unless others show it to us. Indeed, a child starved of affection cannot express genuine love toward others. But when the love of Christ breaks through and touches our hardened, self-protective hearts, an amazing transformation takes place: we learn to love ourselves and others. We begin by loving our Creator with all he first poured into us. And this cycle of affection then overflows onto neighbors—fulfilling the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:27-39).
So how should we respond to our Lord who first loved us? Like David, we would do well to:
- Call on him as long as we live (116:2, 4)
- Rest in him during recovery (116:7)
- Walk before him in the land of the living (116:9)
- Offer sacrifices of thanksgiving to him (116:17)
- Fulfill our vows (promises) to him (116:14, 18)
Verse 9, in particular, addresses the idea that we are set free to enjoy an unencumbered, fulfilling life (that Jesus promised, John 10:10) under the watchful care of our loving Lord. It, as well as the rest of the psalm, describes a beautiful exchange of love that inspires us to call on, rest in, walk before, praise, and fulfill our vows to him.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for how you have revealed your love for us in the life, death, and resurrection of your Son. Would you please help us grow in our affection for you and your Son, that we might walk freely in obedience to you, sharing your overflowing love with others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
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