When I was a child, our church held services on Sunday evening. The service had a unique element in it. Often, the pastor would ask if anyone would like to share how God had been at work in their life. Listening to respected adults share about God in such a personal way made a huge impact on me. They would tell of answered prayers or how God had comforted them during a troubled time.
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.Psalm 116:1
Psalm 116 is a testimony. We do not know exactly what kind of trouble the Psalmist was facing, but he describes his desperate situation with great emotion, “The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow” (v. 3). Death seemed like a real possibility.
But when the Psalmist cried out to God for help, God answered. God was true to His character. The Psalmist rehearses the attributes of God from Exodus 34:6–7 (v. 5). In contrast to God’s faithfulness, people are often untrustworthy (v. 11). But God hears prayer and responds. God’s deliverance prompted the Psalmist to publicly proclaim what He had done (vv. 13–14).
In this context, verse 15 stands out as a bit odd. It says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” You might say to yourself, “Didn’t he just pray for deliverance from death?” The word “precious” here is better understood as “costly.” That is, the Lord understands the cost to the community of faith when a believer dies. This is one of the reasons God spared him in this situation.
God may not always answer our prayers in the way we would want. When that happens, this psalm is a good reminder that God’s ways are higher than our own. Consider how you can let people know what the Lord has done, so their faith can be encouraged.
Today, O Lord, we remember the ways Your plans have proven to be a blessing to us, even when we thought we needed something else. Remind us not to keep these things to ourselves, but to proclaim Your goodness to our fellow believers.