Ep247_Psalm116. I Love You, Lord.
Psalm 116 begins with the confession, unusual in the psalms, “I love the Lord.”
Given the central Old Testament command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength” (Deut. 6:5), I find it surprising that more psalms don’t focus on the poet’s love for God.
Perhaps this is because any relationship with God is complex and intangible. Few of us experience a deep, conscious love of God all our lives. Instead, like the psalms, we often experience ambivalence toward God, which sometimes tilts strongly to annoyance and distrust, and at other times embraces deep and intimate feelings.
Perhaps it’s like courtship and marriage. After the initial burst of love, the partners encounter intractable differences in perspectives, values, cleanliness, and expectations. The two who had so much in common quickly discover how little that much really is. But if they persist in caring for each other, and permit themselves to grow and change, love may take root quietly under the surface. Not a visible and expressive love like young courtship, but a deep confidence in the goodness of their relationship, despite the disappointments and changes life brings.
So too with the poet’s relationship with God. His expression of love is not youthful infatuation, it is the mature reflection of one who has walked with God on life’s long road. The poet says he loves God because God listened to his desperate prayer. One surmises that this is only one experience of many in which the poet prayed and God helped. He says,
The cords of death entangled me;
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord (vv. 3-4a).
God responded. The poet says,
You, Lord, delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before you
in the land of the living (vv. 8-9).
Our father, in our years of seeking you who we do not see, in the mystery and quandary of prayers answered and unanswered, in the bewilderment of issues resolved and unresolved, you have found your way deep into our hearts. You are present to us in places we didn’t know existed until you moved in.
We love you because you listen when we cry to you. How rare it is that anyone listens to us, especially to our irritating litany of complaints. But you, Lord, hear our voice, you hear our cry for mercy (v. 1).
We love because you give us life. When the fear of death enslaves us, when our lives seem hopeless and worthless, you rescue us and show us meaning in your grace and justice and compassion. With the poet we say,
Return to your rest, my soul,
for you, God, have been good to me (v. 7).
We love you because you rescue us. We despair at relationships we bungle, at our faithlessness in seeking you, at our slowness to give up favored sins. But you seek us out, you release the chains that bind us, you draw us close to yourself.
And so with the poet:
We lift up the cup of salvation,
and we call on your name, O Lord.
We love you.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
YouTube channel: Pray with Me – YouTube