Lisa is a counselor here with the Center for Biblical Counseling. She is married to Csaba Leidenfrost who for the past 25 years has been a translator for Wycliff Bible Translators and the Bakwe people, in the Ivory Coast. For the past several years Csaba and Lisa have been stranded here in the states because of civil war in the Ivory Coast.
For the last several years of their time in Africa Lisa was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Shortly after their arrival in the States she found out that she had sleep apnea. She and Csaba purchased and began using a CPAP machine and her strength and stamina began to return. Now she has so much energy she is difficult to keep up with.
While waiting to go back to Africa Lisa is ministering to several women in the church who are going through times of suffering. Lisa presented the following devotional to the women yesterday:
Vs. 1 – “I love the Lord” (this is a simple statement but it also opens the theme of the psalm)
(Why does he love the Lord? The Psalmist answers that:)
“Because – He has heard my voice and supplications”
“Because – He has inclined His ear to me.”
(He hears, and it makes all the difference to the Psalmist and the result of knowing this is his next statement:)
Vs. 2 “Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” (This is the way he is going to operate now, no matter what the trial because he knows God hears him.)
(now he gives us some background to the above statement, some history to give context. This is the situation he was in-)
Vs. 3 “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.”
(He was in a pretty bad situation and he did the only thing he could do -)
Vs. 4 “Then I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!'” (note the word ‘implore’ – a stronger word than just ‘ask’. He is begging in desperation.)
(And, we know that God had answered that plea. That is why he writes the psalm. The next section is one of praise after the calling out. In this section, he actually states Who God is and what He does. This is actually helpful for us to follow this example. It puts things in perspective and we need to do this often.)
Vs. 5, 6 “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. (notice that he is saying this about the very God who actually put him in the hard situation. He praises Him for coming through and states what is true that God is Gracious, righteous and merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple)
(The resultant action; ‘what God does’ to His children, is preserving them and saving them.)
Vs. 6 “I was brought low, and He saved me.” (This is a pure and simple statement that says so much. There is no situation so dire that God doesn’t do this. He will come through no matter what you are going through to fulfill His purposes. It will come out the way He wants for good. Even if something were to result in death, you can see that as a final saving to safely bring us into His loving arms to be with Him forever. Death has lost its sting. What are we afraid of? God will be with us in whatever state we are in, and He will take our hand. We need to open up our hand to release to Him the way we want the outcome to be and in doing so, we can rest in the plan He has for us.)
(result of what this means to us:)
Vs. 7 “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (When you return to your rest, there is the taking of the burden off of you and a moving of it onto God. You can then breathe a sigh of relief knowing that He has ‘got it’ and He will take care of it. That is why we can rest. And, His taking care of ‘saving you’ out of messes is an ongoing thing. It is just who we are (weak) and who He is (strong) and what He does (saves us). This is normal.)
(the next section shows some of the ways God actually saved the psalmist:)
Vs. 8 “For You have delivered:
– my soul from death,
-my eyes from tears,
-my feet from falling
(again the resultant conclusion is:)
Vs. 9 “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (He is going to follow God no matter what. He is all in. This verse seems to wrap up nicely the whole Psalm especially if verse 12 followed right after it:
Vs. 12 “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?
Vs. 13 “I will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
Vs. 14 “I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people.”
(and the rest of the verses till the end follow the same theme of gratitude and following God as a result of His goodness)
But I had trouble with verse 10 and 11 that was interjected right after Vs. 9. It seemed like it was changing topics, like it belonged somewhere else:
Vs. 10,11 “I believed, therefore I spoke, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’ I said in my haste, ‘All men are liars.’ ”
(why would he recap about being afflicted when it was so nicely wrapped up and why bring up the theme of ‘liars’? I asked Csaba about it and he said there was a NT verse that explained the passage. It is quoted in part in 2 Cor. 4:13 “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,”
(So I wanted to know about what he believed and spoke that explains that verse and gives light to Psalm 116 and I found out that it indeed does carry the same theme (except the ‘all men are liars’ part, which remains a mystery to me as to why it is there).
We’ll start up a ways to get context:
2 Cor 4:8
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
(We received this light at salvation and the wonderful thing is that this light doesn’t go away. You walk in this light all your life and it shines in whatever darkness you may be in. And it won’t stop until you are received into His loving arms at the end of your life. When a person suffers or is depressed, our job is to point them back to that light.)
(In light of the above verse, the next verse starts with a ‘but’. I find these little words pretty important)
Vs. 7, 8 “But, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, (don’t we all know that. Sure it is wonderful to have God’s light but it is in such a weak vessel that breaks. How is God going to deal with that? He does in the next verse, and explains why it is good -)
“…that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (This is why is it ok to have an earthen vessel that is weak and can break because it shows more clearly that the power is of God and not us and that shows best in our weakness. It happened at salvation and it will keep happening all your life.)
(so now we get the examples of this in the Psalmist’s life:)
Vs. 8, 9 “We are hard pressed on every side (pile up of trials) ————- yet not crushed (God coming through)
“We are perplexed (God why me?)———–but not in despair (He is a God of hope, even if we don’t understand)
“(We are) persecuted, ———————but not forsaken ( “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb 13)
“(We are) struck down——————but not destroyed (I remember thinking after many very severe blows by God, “Ok, God I’m down. You got me. I know that one more blow and I’m gone. So why do you stop here? Why don’t you just finish the job?” But He didn’t; He didn’t want to. He had plans and they were good. He can give repeated blows to you and you will not be destroyed. He is using them all for good.)
Vs. 10 (so what is our state?)
“Always carrying about in the body (this mortal flesh of ours) the dying of the Lord Jesus, (why?)
“that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
“For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.”
We have contrasts here.
Jump back to verse 6 –
we were surrounded by darkness and God’s light shone in it.
Vs. 11 we have death and Jesus’ life is manifested in our mortal flesh.
That’s how God works. He turns a negative into a positive by infusing His presence in it and then that blessing multiplies to benefit others. Paul was persecuted due to the light in him, and God was using this for good, to benefit others and it kept spreading.
In our weakness, God gives us life and strength which means we can keep on living to glorify Him despite our circumstances. The light is shining through our broken vessels just like Gidean’s clay jars had to be broken for the light to shine through so God could have the victory in that war. Jesus’s life is manifested in our mortal flesh when broken because it is His life that is seen and not ours.
That is why this verse is important,
Vs. 13 “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written. “I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore we speak.”
“knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanks giving to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”