Bible Commentaries
Psalms 116

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 116:1

(1) There are multitudes who are utterly careless about God, in whose minds He exists as the object neither of one feeling nor another, who never think of Him so as either to love Him or be displeased with Him. (2) There are those who think much about God, but, instead of loving Him, are full of terror of Him. (3) There are not a few who, instead of loving God, hate Him, verily hate Him.

I. Notice some other species of love with the manifestations of which those of Divine love are liable to be confounded by the undiscriminating. (1) The saints' love of God has nothing in it of the nature of that affection of appetite by which so much of the love of earthly objects is characterised. (2) The love of God has nothing in it of the nature of that affection of instinct which is characteristic of the love of a mother for her infant child. (3) The saints' love of God has nothing in it of the nature of the love of compassion. (4) The saints' love of God is not of that character or degree which is produced by sensible intercourse.

II. In what does the saints' love of God positively consist? (1) In its purest form, it consists in an admiration and esteem of His excellence the love of moral approbation. All God's moral perfections make Him an object of love: ( a ) His justice; ( b ) His benevolence. (2) All love of God must commence at least with the love of gratitude, with loving Him because He has loved us, each one discerning for himself that God has been bountiful to him, is bountiful to him now, and will continue bountiful in all time to come. ( a ) Neither any consideration of God's bounty in creation nor any review of His bounty in providence will beget love for Him in the bosom of a man who is conscious of guilt, for the obvious reason that neither of these two works of nature contains any assurance for him of that which above all things else he needs: mercy, to pardon his iniquities. ( b ) No man can attain to the love of God who does not appropriate the tidings of the Gospel to himself.

W. Anderson, Discourses, p. 170.

Verse 7

Psalms 116:7

The rest of which the text speaks is the rest of a being who has found again his proper and congenial sphere. In reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ the soul regains its lost equilibrium, finds again the centre of repose for which it had been sighing in vain. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden," is the invitation of incarnate love; "and I will give you rest." And in the soul that yields to this invitation there rises the response of its deepest nature, the instinctive throb of a new yet natural affection, the calm sense of existence fulfilled and unexplained hope and desire solved in fruition the witness in its own inmost consciousness that its true rest is found at last.

I. The rest of which the text speaks is not bodily or physical, but mental or spiritual, rest. (1) Bodily repose reaches not to the true centre of man's peace; but mental repose entrenches itself in the deepest region of man's nature, and renders him impregnable to outward assault. (2) Physical repose can only be periodic; the rest of the soul is essentially continuous.

II. The rest of which the psalmist speaks may be described, again, as the rest not of immobility, but of equipoise. In the repose of a saintly spirit there is latent power. The inward repose which, sooner or later, true religion brings, is the result of the final conquest and subjugation of man's lower nature. The peace of the holy mind is the peace not of stagnation, but of self-conquest.

III. The true rest of the soul is that not of inactivity, but of congenial exertion. Labour is rest to the active and energetic spirit. The mind itself does not waste or grow weary; and but for the weight of the weapons wherewith it works, it might think, and imagine, and love on for ever. The service of God, beyond all other kinds of labour, may become the most perfect rest to the soul. As love to Christ deepens in the soul that is truly given to Him, the work which it prompts us to do for Him loses the feeling of effort and passes into pleasure.

IV. This rest is not absolute, but relative. Whilst it is a great thing to be an earnest worker in Christ's service, yet the Christian life is not mainly a life of action, but of trust, not of independent exertion, but of self-abandonment to the working of a mightier agency than ours. Calmly as the midnight voyager sleeps whilst, under watchful guidance, the vessel bears him onwards, so calmly, with such trustful humility, does the believer commit himself and his fates for time and eternity to the unslumbering providence of God.

V. This rest is attainable through Christ alone. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Him." He offers pardon to the guilty, purity to the defiled, peace, joy, hope, heaven, to the wretched, or that which includes them all: that strange, unearthly blessing rest to the weary and heavy-laden soul.

J Caird, Sermons, p. 192.

References: Psalms 116:7 . M. R. Vincent, Gates into the Psalm Country, p. 215; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 339. Psalms 116:8 . G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 105.Psalms 116:9 . M. Dix, Sermons Doctrinal and Practical, p. 319.

Verse 11

Psalms 116:11

The text reveals the psalmist as having passed through the shadow of that mood of mind to which we give the name of cynicism. The great danger is lest the mood should pass into a habit, lest we should nurse it until it becomes a chronic attitude of mind, and we begin to lose the taste of its bitterness and to take a morbid pleasure in indulging it. Notice one or two practical safeguards against the attitude or habit of cynicism.

I. Let us cherish a modest estimate of our own abilities and our own importance.

II. Let us cultivate the habit of looking out for human excellences, and of putting the most generous construction on human actions.

III. Let us seek to look at all men as through the eyes of Christ.

T. Campbell-Finlayson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 353.

References: Psalms 116:11 . S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 186. Psalms 116:12 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 910.

Verses 12-13

Psalms 116:12-13

The great thought which lies here is that we best requite God by thankfully taking what He gives.

I. Note how deep that thought goes into the heart of God. We requite God by taking rather than by giving, not merely because He needs nothing, and we have nothing which is not His. The motive of His giving to us is the deepest reason why our best recompense to Him is our thankful reception of His mercies. The principle of our text reposes at last on "God is love, and wishes our hearts," and not merely on "God has all, and does not need our gifts."

II. Look at the elements which make up this requital of God in which He delights. (1) Let us be sure that we recognise the real contents of our cup. It is a cup of salvation, however hard it is sometimes to believe it. (2) Be sure that you take what God gives. There can be no greater slight and dishonour to a giver than to have his gifts neglected. (3) One more element has still to be named: the thankful recognition of Him in all our feasting. "Call on the name of the Lord." Only he who enjoys life in God enjoys it worthily. Only he who enjoys life in God enjoys it at all.

A. Maclaren, Weekday Evening Addresses, p. 142.

Verse 13

Psalms 116:13

I. We see here, first, God giving. The form which the giving takes in this representation is the hand of God presenting a cup. Goodness is manifested in all God's giving, in the cup of wrath as in the cup of blessing; but the cup of blessing is a revelation of love, God giving. This is the ultimate Owner giving. This is giving on His part in whom the absolute right of possession is vested. This is righteous giving. This is giving which need not make us afraid of taking.

II. Man taking. The taking here is not a simple laying hold of that which God gives, but the use and enjoyment of what God bestows. To take the cup of salvation is to receive a blessing in all its fulness, to the utmost limit of our receptive capacity and of our power to accept and to enjoy.

III. God's servant seeing God in what he takes. There is a name of God on every cup, and in every act of offering a cup.

IV. Worship, the fruit of what we receive and see. Past and present gifts on the part of God should encourage us in three things: prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.

S. Martin, Rain upon the Mown Grass, p. 273.

References: Psalms 116:13 . S. H. Booth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 161; C. J. Vaughan, Ibid., vol. viii., p. 273.Psalms 116:15 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1036; Plain Sermons by Contributors to " Tracts for the Times, " vol. ii., p. 278; J. Keble, Sermons for Saints ' Days, p. 30.

Verse 16

Psalms 116:16

I. David's design here is to represent his piety as hereditary; and he mentions his mother because to her especially, in all probability, his religious convictions and impressions were instrumentally due. If this were the case, how much does the Church owe, under God, to the kindly wisdom of that godly mother, for it is the mother, after all, that has most to do with the making or the marring of the man.

II. David and Moses may be regarded as instances in which the good seed fell into good soil, and in which the return was speedy as well as rich. But it is not always so; usually, we may say, it is not so. For the most part the seed lies apparently dormant, the spring is long and unpromising, and the faith of the sower has to be exercised in a patient waiting for the promised growth. Nay, sometimes it seems as if all were lost, as if the seed had utterly perished, and as if the soil that had been so carefully cultured and watched over must be hopelessly given up to desolation or to rank and abominable weeds. But a mother's teachings have a marvellous vitality in them; there is a strange, living power in that good seed which is sown by a mother's hand in her child's heart in the early dawn of the child's being; and there is a deathless potency in a mother's prayers and tears for those whom she has borne, which only God can estimate.

W. Lindsay Alexander, Christian Thought and Work, p. 255.

References: Psalms 116:16 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 42; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 312, and vol. xxix., No. 1740; J. Vaughan, Sermons, 13th series, p. 5; Good Words, 1861, p. 190. Psalms 116:18 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 38. Psalms 117:1 . B. M. Palmer, Ibid., vol. ix., p. 143.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 116". "Sermon Bible Commentary".