Home » A. Bible Studies » Psalm 116: Christ Loves the Father

Psalm 116: Christ Loves the Father

 

 

Psalm 116 is a song of worship, praise, and thanksgiving for the author of love, God the Father. In it, Christ recounts a brief history of the cross, and his relation to the Father throughout its enactment in history. Christ loves the Father and believes. Therefore, he sings this song.

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Psalms are love songs between Father and Son. As the Father loves the Son (Psalm 2:7-8; Psalm 18), so the Son loves the Father. “I love the Lord!” (Psalm 116:1). “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,” (verse 13). The cup of salvation is the Eucharist (cup of communion) for the early church and in today’s Orthodox tradition (Reardon, 232 and The Orthodox Study Bible, 760). It represents the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Psalm 116 states reasons for the Son’s love for his Father: God heard his prayer and delivered him from death.

  1. He heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. (v 1)
  2. He bent his ear toward me and responded to my prayer. (v 2)
  3. I was about to die, and in fact I did die! (v 3)
  4. I cried out to the Lord and he saved me marvelously. (vv 4-8)
  5. Now I am alive and I walk freely with the Lord in the land of the living. (v 9)

Psalm 116 describes the Son’s love for his Father.

Short Version of this Section (Scroll Down for the Longer Version)

  1. He believes, even in the middle of all his horrible experiences. (v 10; Hebrews 11:6)
  2. “The cup of salvation” (v 13) is the cup that brings eternal life. Its cost of purchase was the death of the Son.
  3. Both of the phrases in Psalm 116:11, 1) I said in my alarm, and 2) all mankind are liars, conceivably make reference to the cross. (Read the longer version below to find out how.) This interpretation lines up perfectly with the context and received church tradition of Psalm 116 in its entirety. Verse 11 describes the Son’s agony as he sacrificed himself to the Father in love.
  4. “I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (vv 14, 18) What vows? Quite out in the open and publicly, Christ paid his eternal vows to his Father, sacrificing his body and life on the cross. His obedience demonstrates his love for his Father.
  5. Verse 16 speaks of resurrection. The bonds of servitude are distinguished here from the bonds of death. Christ in verses 17-19 offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving, praise, and continued intercession in prayer (Romans 8:34), thereby displaying his love for his Father God.

Longer Version of this Section

1. He believes, even in the middle of all his horrible experiences. (v 10; Hebrews 11:6)

2. “The cup of salvation” (v 13) is the cup that brings eternal life. Its cost of purchase was the death of the Son. In the early days of the church, many Christians were eager and happy to give up their lives in martyrdom as an expression of their love for Christ (Acts 7:54-60). Christians are martyred today for believing in the Lord. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (Joh 15:13 ESV)

3. Psalm 116:11 is a difficult verse. “I said in my alarm, All mankind are liars. Jesus Christ’s love for his Father surpasses the unworthiness of the people for whom Christ died. (Romans 3:23; Psalm 14:1-3; John 2:24-25) When Jesus was tried, convicted, and hung on a cross, none came forward to speak on his behalf (Pilate’s wife did mention to her husband the nightmare she had experienced concerning him). There was no one to comfort him (Handel’s Messiah quoting Psalm 69:20). Because the human race, as represented by all who were gathered and by those who chose to stay away and avoid trouble, allowed and encouraged the great Creator’s crucifixion, they all in essence, denied his deity. To not receive Christ, to not acknowledge God’s love in Christ, is to lie. (Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Rom 1:18 ESV) In this sense, in the crucifixion of Christ, the crucifixion of deity, all humankind was deceived and lied about the true relationship between themselves and their Creator/Savior.

The word “alarm” in Hebrew can mean “haste, hurry, to hurry in alarm.” In the Greek Septuagint, the word is “ecstasy,” which refers to a strong emotional state that is not normal, in the sense of not usual. We say that “So-and-so is beside herself.” It can be produced by great terror, bewilderment, astonishment, (as in response to a powerful miracle that overrides physical laws of nature (Mark 5:42, where Jesus resurrected a dead girl; Luke 5:26, where Jesus healed the paralyzed man; Mark 16:8, where the women were beside themselves in astonishment upon meeting the angel in Christ’s tomb, who told them that he had arisen from the dead). A second meaning for “ecstasy” is a trance (Acts 22:17, Peter’s vision of the blanket filled with unclean foods). This second meaning does not seem applicable here.

Continuing with the first meaning of strong emotion, often brought on by great fear, the Greek word “ecstasy” appears in the superscription of Psalm 31, which is Psalm 30 in the Septuagint. The English translation of the Septuagint reads, “For the end, a Psalm of David, an utterance of extreme fear,” or, εἰς τὸ τέλος ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυιδ ἐκστάσεως in Greek. Jesus speaks Psalm 31:5 from the cross, “Into your hand I commit my spirit,” (Luke 23:46) and the whole psalm speaks of death and resurrection. It should not be difficult to perceive Christ the man experiencing great trepidation both before and while he was being crucified. Witness his sweating of blood in the Garden as he prayed concerning the trial and crucifixion that lay just ahead.

Therefore, both of the phrases in Psalm 116:11– 1) I said in my alarm, and 2) all mankind are liars, conceivably make reference to the cross. This interpretation lines up perfectly with the context and received church tradition of Psalm 116 in its entirety. Verse 11 describes the Son’s agony as he sacrificed himself to the Father in love.

4. “I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (vv 14, 18) What vows? The prior verse (v 13) speaks of “the cup of salvation.” This cup (Luke 22:42) included the cross. The triune God determined the plans for the salvation of humanity in eternity past (Ephesians 1:11; 1 Peter 1:20; Titus 1:2). God made certain promises to his Son, and Christ the Son made promises to his Father. (See an excellent article expanding this topic by R. C. Sproul: Link, accessed 3/30/2018.) Another word for promises is “vows.” Christ in his life and death was constantly surrounded by crowds of people. Quite out in the open and publicly, Christ paid his vows to his Father through his obedience unto death, thereby demonstrating his love. The greatest vow was the sacrifice of his body and life on the cross. His obedience demonstrates his love for his Father.

5. Verse 16 speaks of resurrection. The bonds of servitude are distinguished here from the bonds of death. Christ in verses 17-19 offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving, praise, and continued intercession in prayer (Romans 8:34), thereby displaying his love for his Father God.

Summary and Conclusion

Psalm 116 is a song of worship, praise, and thanksgiving for the author of love, God the Father. In it, Christ recounts a brief history of the cross, and his relation to the Father throughout its enactment in history. Christ loves the Father and believes. Therefore, he sings this song.

It is amazing to me how many facets of approach every bit of the Psalter carries for its many readers. My approach today may not be my approach tomorrow. What I discover and emphasize today may not be the discovery and emphasis of another writer. God speaks one language with as many strings as there are hearts of those who seek him. This is wonderful in my eyes. I just want to encourage you to take time and prayer to allow the Lord to open his Word to your heart. You may not see what I see, but what you see directly from the Lord will be just wonderful for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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