A Study of Psalm 116:1-15
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
This is one of those Psalms that ought to be required reading. We need to read it very often.
David didn’t find these words in a “church” prayer book. He didn’t find these words in a “church” creed or catechism or even a confession of faith. He didn’t find these words in a book of systematic theology. These words in this Psalm came from his heart.
Someone said, “The man after God’s own heart, had a heart that was after God.” He loved God and believed God and rested in God; he communed with God. These words that you will find in Psalm 116 are the very outpouring of his heart, his experience and his feelings for his LORD.
In verse 1 if the same Psalm David says, “I love the LORD because He hath heard my voice and my supplication.” This man loved the LORD. This LORD was not the God of his imagination but it was the eternal, living God that David loved. He said, “I love the LORD,” the LORD God who reigns and rules.
We read in Psalm 115, “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?”
He said, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” (Psalm 115:3); “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and in all deep places.” (Psalm 135:6)
David is saying, That is my LORD and I love Him. I love the sovereign, omnipotent, almighty God Who, “Doeth all things after the council of His own will, who worketh all things after the council of His own will. Who doeth His good pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and giveth it to whomsoever He will. None can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Daniel 4:35)
“I love the LORD who reigns and rules. I love the Lord Jesus who redeems. I love the Holy Spirit who regenerates; I just love the LORD.” You will notice, that he doesn’t say; “I love my God.” He said, “I love the LORD” and “the LORD is my shepherd.”
He says in verse 2, “Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” What he is saying is, “I love the LORD and I will continue to love Him.” He is saying, “I believe the LORD and I will continue to believe Him. I have called upon the LORD and I will continue to believe Him. I’ve called upon the LORD and I will continue to call upon the LORD.”
You see; his union with Christ was not a union with a denomination. His religion was not a religious system; he loved the person and he called upon a person. Our LORD said to the disciples one time as a whole multitude of people had been listening to Him. They had departed from Him and were angry. They said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60)
When they left Him, He turned to His disciples and He said to them, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67). Peter said, “LORD, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the Words of Eternal Life and we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69)
These men’s hearts were knit to a Person. This was not a way or an organization or a denominational system; it was a Person. This is what David is saying, “I love the LORD; I will call upon Him as long as I live.”
I believe that this is the trouble with today’s organized denominational religion, this day of high pressure evangelism. Men and women are busy joining positions and leaving positions. Men and women are busy making professions and then denying the profession. Men and women are being brought into programs. They then tire of the programs and leave the programs. Salvation is not in a position, profession or a program; it is in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the living God.
When a person comes to know Him and is vitally united in a living union with Him, you will continue in the faith. When Paul says; “Christ in you, the hope of glory” and “my little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”(Galatians 4:19), that is the key.
He never leaves that person and that person never leaves Him; “I travail until Christ be formed in you.” When Christ is formed in you, you will continue in that faith. Now, he says; “I will call upon him as long as I live.”
There are so many deceivers that are going about profiting by man’s natural religious inclination.
David was a man who said that he loved the LORD and that he was a man after God’s own heart. He was the king of Israel, the sweet Psalmist of Israel. He said, “I will call upon him as long as I live.” He says in verse 3; “I found trouble and sorrow.” He calls them the “sorrows of death and the pains of hell.”
David says, “I, who love the LORD; I who call upon the LORD; I who am the sweet Psalmist of Israel, who wrote most of the Psalms, have found trouble and sorrow. I am a man after God’s own heart, the one who was anointed by God’s own prophet to be king of Israel; I have found trouble and sorrow.” No one who knows anything about God, about the scriptures or about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel will promise a believer an easy road unless he is a fool. A preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot promise one who knows the LORD that from now on they will have health, happiness and prosperity. This is just not so! An easy road was not so in Old Testament days and it wasn’t so in New Testament days. It is not even so today.
Our Lord Jesus plainly said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33)
“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killers you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2)
“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach your and cast your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” (Luke 6:22)
“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (1st John 3:13)
“If the world hate you, he know that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2nd Timothy 3:12)
Our faith must be tried. Peter said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened.” (1st Peter 4:12)
True faith must be tried by fire.
For all generations and in all the world and ages, God’s people have suffered. There are many saints who love Christ, who are devoted to the Word of God and who know the Gospel that live in poverty and want. They have dead babies and have scarcely enough to live on. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Roman’s 8:28)
David said, “I have found trouble and sorrow.” Don’t be surprised and don’t be amazed when you find a child of God troubled. “But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed.” (Roman’s 5:3-5)
These so called divine healers, these so called health and wealth preachers, the people who stand on TV and tell you that if you will send them money and make them rich, then God will make you rich (that doesn’t sound like a bad deal). These men rise up and prosper at the expense of poor people and often poor sick people.
They fade away. Have you ever wondered where these men have gone to? Where are some of these fellows that did all of the healings back decades ago? There are new ones all the time; they rise up, get rich at the expense of poor people, and they retire in comfort. These men fade away and die of cancer and heart trouble just like everyone else.
I notice that all of these divine healers so called are in the prime of life; they are all young men who have young wives with young children. Very seldom do you find many of them that are old, decayed and on the way to the grave talking about health, wealth and perfect strength.
David says, “I found trouble.” You know that these fellows who rise up, they are hucksters and flesh merchants. They make merchandise out of people and fade away into retirement, their money perishing with them. Another one comes along and takes their place and pulls the same con-game successfully. This is astounding! I heard a man one say, “There is a sucker born every minute and someone to take his money.”
God’s people know happiness but it is in Christ. God’s people know joy but it is in Christ. God’s people know success but it is in Christ. God’s people know trials and troubles, suffering and sorrow in this world. This is all ordered by the LORD for “His glory and for their good.”
How could a child of God ever minister to you or sympathize with you if they knew nothing about heartache themselves? What if a child of God never wept or felt the hand of God heavy upon them? How in the world would that saint ever sympathize with a brother or sister in their trials and in their suffering?
In verse 4 of the 116th Psalm, David goes on and says; “Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.” David knew troubles and sorrows like all the rest of us. He also experienced deliverance from these trials.
He says in verse 8, “Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” Isn’t this just like the LORD? All of this is spiritual here. “thou hast delivered my soul from death.” My body is going to die but not my soul; it will never die. The Lord Jesus said: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”
“Thou hast delivered mine eyes from tears;” my sins are gone; there is no charge or condemnation. Child of God, have you ever shed tears in sorrow for your sins? Have you experienced deliverance from such sorrow? “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 1:24)
If you can’t trust the LORD in the midst of your trials, then your faith is not worth a plug-nickel. Anybody can rejoice in the sunshine; anybody can rejoice and wave their hands and cut up when everything is going their way. The truth is that the believer rejoices in the shadow and believes in the trial. He continues in faith and perseveres during the tribulation. You will be delivered.
“Weeping may endure for a night.” There is a night, but “joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) If you can wait on the LORD, He will strengthen your heart. “Wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14). Paul the apostle can relate to David when he said: “Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” (2nd Timothy 3:11). Our God delivers us in His own time. “Let patience have her perfect work.” (James 1:4) God will deliver you stronger in faith than ever before. You need that trial and I do too.
“I believed, therefore have I spoken.” (Psalm 116:10) David speaks here of the foundation of faith. He believed; whom did He believe? the Word of God. Like Abraham, David believed God.
We hear people say, “I know what I believe.” Aren’t they wording that wrong? Didn’t Paul say, “I know whom I have believed” (2nd Timothy 1:12)?
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Roman’s 4:3) David says here, “I believed, therefore have I spoken.”
You see; this is what all of God’s servants say. In the 27th chapter of Acts we read of Paul out on the deck of that ship and the ship is about to go down; everyone is panicking and wanting to jump overboard. He says to these experienced seaman;
“I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Ceasar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts 27-22-25) That is what I believe.
That is what David is saying here, “I believe God; it shall be exactly as He said.” That is what I believe.
One day, in the early morning, our Lord Jesus Christ came down to the seashore. Peter and the apostles had been out fishing. They were experienced fisherman, but had caught nothing; they had fished all night and caught nothing. The Lord Jesus said to them, “Children, have ye any meat?” (John 21:5) They had have toiled all night and caught nothing. He said, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and he shall find.” (John 21:6)
On a previous occasion after the Lord Jesus had finished finished teaching the people, He said to Simon Peter; “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” (Luke 5:4)
Peter said, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have caught nothing.” He didn’t stop there; he said, “Nevertheless; at Thy word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:5)
That is what I am talking about; “I believe God.”
It says in Romans 4; “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3); “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:24)
Can you? I believe God.
Then he says this in Psalm 116 verse 13: “I will take the cup of salvation and I will call upon the name of the LORD.” Most people won’t come to the Lord. That is right! He said, “If another shall come in his own name; Him ye will receive.” (John 5:43). That is par for the course and that is natural man’s religion. Let a man come in his own name – the more ridiculous he is the more followers he has. Money and fame is their motive. The so-called “word faith” preachers are a testimony to that fact. The more ridiculous a man is the more followers he has. “I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not.” (John 5:43); “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:40)
David said, “I will; I will come; I will take the free gift of life; I will call upon the name of the LORD.” By His grace “Thy people shall be made willing in the day of Thy power.” (Psalm 110:3) “I will pay my vows now in the presence of all His people.” (Psalm 116:14)
I will be identified with Him and His people. I will not be ashamed; I will be identified. I will be identified with the Christ; I will be identified with the Gospel; I will be identified with His glory and His grace. I will be identified and I will pay my vows. He is not talking about money there; he is talking about being in the midst of His people and being identified with those who know him publicly.
Here is where we have been leading up to. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
It is very easy to see the people to whom this Scripture belongs. It is very easy to see the people; they are the people who love the LORD.
David said, “I love the LORD.” They are the people who call upon Him as long as they live. They die in faith. They are the people who believe God. They are the people who receive Christ and call upon His name. They are the people who are identified with Him openly. They are His saints. Their death is precious.
Why is the death of the saint precious?
Why is it precious to the saint?
Death itself is not precious; you know that and I know that. Death is often accompanied by much pain. Death is often accompanied by a decay of the faculties, a withering of the flesh. Death is often accompanied by great tears and sorrow that lingers. Death is often accompanied by much difficulty, especially for those that have left.
Paul says, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) How can something so difficult, painful and fearful be gain? He said, “I will lose an old body and gain a new body. I will lose sin and gain perfect Holiness. I will lose mortality and gain immortality; never to die again. I will lose weakness and gain strength. I will lose ignorance and gain perfect knowledge. I will lose shame and gain eternal glory.” “Then, I shall know as I have been known.”
To die is gain for the believer. To die is to be present with the LORD. Consider this. Paul said he had a desire depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” (Philippians 1:23). He said in Romans 8:18, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This present time is not worthy and it is nothing compared to that time!
If you can; you take the time in your life when you were the very happiest. Can you remember? If you can, that is nothing compared to the happiness and joy that you will have in His presence.
You take the time in your life when you were the strongest, at the peak of your prime, the healthiest. Got it? That is nothing compared to the immortality and the strength of His image.
Take the time in your life when you were the most peaceful, at complete rest and not troubled by anything, complete rest. Let me tell you something; that was nothing.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
Take the time in your life when you were the most satisfied and contented. You said, “I wish this could go on forever.” This is nothing and less than nothing compared with the contentment and the joy and the peace in Christ when we stand in His presence and are made like Him. That is what Paul is saying when he says it is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Why is the death of the believer precious in the sight of the LORD? That is what this is saying, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” I can give you several reasons:
First of all: They are precious to Him. Anything that happens to someone that is precious to you is precious also. The people of God are precious to Him. He said, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3) Whatever happens to you is important to me and is precious.
It is not only because they are precious to Him but because they are His sheep. He chose them and He redeemed them by His blood. He came into the world and died for them. He imputed to them a perfect righteousness.
That is why Christ came to this world; He came to redeem His sheep. He said, “I am the good Shepherd. I lay down My life for the sheep. Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them I must bring. They shall hear My voice and they shall be one fold.” (John 10)
They are His sheep!
He loves His sheep and He knows His sheep.
Another reason our death is precious in His sight is because sin is obnoxious to God. One day God is going to put an end to all sin. When we die, that puts an end to sin in us. His purpose is to have a people without sin. He gave His Son on the cross to accomplish that purpose. When He takes us out of this world, He takes us away from all sin.
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” God sees things not as man sees them. God sees things as they really are. We only see what is around us but God sees that which is around Him. This is His home, this is His body, these are His people, and this is His habitation.
I haven’t seen His home and His habitation. Paul did; he came back and said he “heard unspeakable words, which is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2nd Corinthians 12:4) God sees it as it is. Once He takes us to be in His presence (2nd Corinthians 5:8) praise God, we won’t want to come back. Our home eternally is with Him. Our real life is to never grow old and to never die. Our joy is look upon His face. Leave my family? That is my family, the body of Christ.
Death is not a penalty it is a promotion. Death is not the end; it is the beginning and it is not to die but to live.