Daybreak: Psalms 115:1 through 116:19
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
John Clasper, known to many as “Brother Scotty,” was a beloved minister in the Apostolic Faith work. When he was about to pass into eternity, the nurse in attendance asked if she could do anything for him. He said, “Just roll back the roof, and let me go!” There was no fear in his heart as he approached the end of life on earth.
Many people shrink from the thought of death, viewing it with apprehension or even fear. As humans, we contemplate death from an earthly perspective. However, our focus verse indicates that from the viewpoint of Heaven, the death of a saint is not troubling, tragic, or terrible. Rather, God regards that moment as precious. In the original Hebrew, the word precious means “valuable; prized.” In other Scriptures, the same word is translated “honorable.” What a comforting perspective!
The statement “in the sight of the Lord” infers that a dying saint is an object of special notice to God. While we know that the eyes of the Lord are always upon His children, it appears that at death, He observes and cares for the saint of God in a special manner. This is one of His redeemed — a member of His Body and an individual who is loved intensely! Because he is precious to the Lord, his death is precious as well.
Perhaps another reason God views the death of a saint as being precious is the fact that it brings to an end the individual’s trials and sufferings. Those who step into eternity are forever free of the assaults of the enemy. They emerge from the shadows of this world into the glorious brightness of God’s presence, and from temporary residence on earth into the eternal home that He has prepared especially for them. When viewed from that perspective — that the child of God is home at last, safe from danger, and free of all pain and suffering — it is perfectly understandable that the Lord regards that moment as precious.
We also know that the Lord delights in having His people with Himself. He prayed to the Father while on earth that those who had been given Him would “be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). When a child of God gains entrance into Heaven, Christ sees an answer to that prayer and is glad. Think of the joy of the Lord as He receives His cherished loved ones — His beloved treasure!
Yes, we miss those who step from our sight into the world beyond. We will grieve our loss; that is to be expected. However, as we prayerfully study what the Word says about the departure of the godly, we will find comfort. The sting of death is gone when we contemplate the joy that awaits those who are faithful!
The two psalms in today’s text are the middle two in a group of six (113-118) that are called The Hallel or the Egyptian Hallel. (The allusion to Egypt is based upon the opening verse of Psalm 114.) The word halal means “praise.” Psalms 115 and 116 may have been part of the hymn that Jesus and His disciples sang following the Last Supper, just before going to Gethsemane (see Matthew 26:30).
As with other psalms in the Egyptian Hallel, Psalm 115 is anonymous and no title is given. The theme of this psalm contrasts the greatness of God with the inefficacy of the idols of the heathen. Psalm 115 begins by glorifying God, even though unbelievers had scoffed, “Where is now their God?” (verse 2). Three groups of people were addressed — the people of Israel (verse 9), the priests (“house of Aaron” in verse 10), and “ye that fear the Lord” (verse 11). The latter may have meant Gentiles who had converted to Judaism, or the Jewish people who were wholeheartedly devoted to God. The psalmist’s overriding desire was for God to prove His existence so that the heathen would have no basis for their derisive taunts. In the final verses, he called upon Israel to trust in God as their help and shield.
Psalm 116 is written in the first person and is the testimony of someone who had been near death. It was probably included with the hymns for public worship because many people can identify with the experiences of the author. The author’s reference to “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” and his pledge to “pay my vows” (verses 17-18) may indicate that the setting was the giving of a thank offering for deliverance from the affliction described in the first verses of the psalm.
In verses 1-9, the writer expressed praise and love for God because He had answered prayer and provided deliverance. Verse 8 specifically mentions three ways God had delivered: the soul from death, eyes from tears, and feet from falling. There was a spiritual battle involved with this writer’s experience; though his faith had been assailed, he had remained steadfast. The phrase “All men are liars” (verse 11) likely meant that all his friends and associates had failed him. However, he determined to set aside his concern over the failure of men, and consider how he could repay God (verses 12-14). In the closing verses, the psalmist proclaimed his grateful resolution to devote his renewed strength to God’s service and worship.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- According to Psalm 116:1, why did the psalmist love the Lord?
- In Psalm 116:17, the psalmist mentions “the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” What are some sacrifices of thanksgiving that we might offer to the Lord?
- Psalm 115:12 says, “The Lord hath been mindful of us.” In what ways has God proved that He is mindful of you?
Believers are dearly beloved by God, and He regards the time when they are called from this world into His presence as a notable and precious event.