(1) I love Yahweh because he heard my voice and my supplications. (2) Because he has inclined his ear to me, I will call upon him as long as I live. (3) The cords of death encompassed me. The terrors of Sheol (death) found me. I found distress and anguish. (4) Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “Yahweh, I pray you, deliver my soul!” (5) Yahweh (is) gracious and righteous. Our God is compassionate. (6) Yahweh preserves the childlike. When I was brought low, he saved me.
We find the name, “Yahweh,” repeated five times in this segment, first in verse 1, twice in verse 4, and then in verses 5 & 6. This points us to its God-centered focus, particularly on God’s gracious deliverance of his people. One other repetition should be noted, the verb “found” (vs. 3). The psalmist cleverly uses this word to describe both the terrors that found him and the distress and anguish which he found as a result.
I. General expression of devotion to Yahweh (1 & 2)
II. Specific testimony regarding Yahweh’s deliverance (3-6)
- In my distress, I called on Yahweh to save me. (3 & 4)
- Yahweh, who delivers those who trust in him, delivered me. (5 & 6)
Because he has heard and answered my prayers for deliverance, I commit myself to lifelong trust in Yahweh.
In Psalm 107:2 we read, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say this...” In other words, those who have experienced the Lord’s deliverance have a responsibility to praise him by sharing with others what he has done for them. Some church fellowships set aside special times in their worship services for personal testimonies to God’s faithfulness in their lives. Members of the congregation are encouraged to share specific instances of answered prayer so that others might be encouraged to trust in God.
This segment of Psalm 116 provides a good model for the sharing of testimonies. First, the psalmist offers a general statement of praise to Yahweh for his faithfulness (vss. 1 & 2). Then he plunges into the specifics, how Yahweh actually delivered him from almost certain death and restored him to life, but does so briefly and succinctly (vss. 3-6). The key to an effective testimony is focus. Those sharing should ask themselves, “To whom am I drawing attention, to myself or to the Lord?” As a rule of thumb, we should keep our testimonies simple, short, and to the point, making sure they glorify God and not ourselves. Such testimonies can have a powerful impact on those who hear them.