Second Reformed Church

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"You Saved My Life" Sermon: Psalm 116:1-8

“You Saved My Life”

[Psalm 116:1-8]

April 18, 2014 Second Reformed Church

            Today is called, “Good Friday.”  It’s the day that we remember that Jesus was unjustly arrested, illegally tried in three courts, tortured, and crucified – and died.   Why do we call this day “good”?

            We are looking at the first half of Psalm 116 – the author is unnamed.

            We see in the first half of this psalm:

            The Lord answers the prayers of His people.

            The Lord listens when His people cry out to Him in distress.

            The Lord is our salvation in life.

            The Lord is our salvation in death.

            “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.”

            The psalmist tells us that he loves the Lord because the Lord heard his voice.

            The psalmist tells us that he loves the Lord because the Lord had mercy on Him – the psalmist loves the Lord because He showed him unmerited favor.

            The psalmist tells us that he loves the Lord because the Lord inclined His ear to him.

            The Lord answered the prayer of the psalmist.  When the psalmist was in distress – even to the point of death, as we shall see – he prayed to God, and God answered Him, and showed Him mercy, and delivered him from whatever it was that put his life in such distress and danger.

            So, the psalmist tells us that he will call on the Lord as long as he lives.  Since the Lord answered him and inflamed his love for the Lord through answering his prayer, the psalmist turned to prayer when he needed the mercy of God.

            The same is true for us, is it not?  Jesus taught us how to pray and the author of Hebrews reminds us that we can come boldly into the throne room of God to ask of Him as His children.

            Jesus certainly prayed – we read of His praying throughout the Gospels – going off by Himself to spent time in prayer with His Father.  In those last hours on the cross, we find two prayers recorded:

            “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:34a, ESV).

            “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46, ESV).

            The Lord listens when His people cry out to Him in distress:

            “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.  Then I called on the name of the LORD:  ‘O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!’”

            The psalmist tells us that he was trapped in the “snares of death” – he was overwhelmed by the feeling that he was unable to escape from the death that was upon him – he saw no reason to believe that he would be able to survive whatever was occurring.

            The psalmist tells us that “the pangs of Sheol” grabbed him – the pain of the grave grabbed him – he could feel his life descending into the grave.

            The psalmist tells us that he suffered distress and anguish – it surely looked like the end for him – and then he called on the Lord to deliver him.

            Our Father is waiting for us to call to Him in our distress.  He is with us and walks with us even through the valley of the shadow of death, and we are comforted by His rod and His staff.  Even if the answer He gives us is “wait” or “no.”

            Crucifixion is still considered one of the most horrifying and painful ways to die.

            As Jesus hung on the cross, He was trapped in the “snares of death.”  He felt the pain of the pull of the grave on Him as His Blood flowed out of His wounds and it became more difficult to keep breathing.  And He cried out:

            “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’…” (John 19:30a, ESV).

            “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46, ESV).

            We need to remember that these were cries of victory – even though death was upon Him – He had won.  Jesus had endured the Wrath of God for the sins of everyone who would ever believe – ending with His physical death.

            The Lord is our salvation in life.

            “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.  The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”

            Unlike Jesus, the psalmist did not have to endure death at this point in his life.  No, God heard his prayer and saved Him.  God showed how gracious He is in extending the salvation of the life of the psalmist to him.  The Lord showed that He is righteous in dealing with the psalmist as He did saving him in this life according to His good and holy will.  And the Lord showed His mercy is not bringing the psalmist to death in that moment.

            The psalmist tells us that the Lord preserves the simple – the Lord preserves those who are humble about their circumstances – even though it be great peril.  For none of us deserves salvation.  All that we receive from the Hand of God is a gift.  So, when the psalmist was brought low – even near to the grave, God saved him and restored him to his life – a gift of salvation.

            The psalmist tells us that He was restored such that his soul could rest.  He was no longer shaken – looking into the grave – by his circumstances, but God heard his prayer and in His Righteousness – in grace and mercy – God chose to deliver him in this life – to deal bountifully with him – as He has with us all, has He not?

            Has God short-changed any one of us?  Has God neglected to give us some good thing that we deserve?  Or have we received so much more than we could possibly have imagined, given our sin, that we can rest and be satisfied in all that God has done for us?  Has not God even delivered us from disastrous situations in this life?

            The Lord is our salvation in death.

            “For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;”

            The psalmist tells us that he was delivered from death – whatever it was that was upon him, God mercifully removed and let him live.

            The psalmist tells us that his eyes were delivered from tears.

            The psalmist tells us that his feet were delivered – God kept him stumbling – either in his feet or into sin in that moment.

            He was saved, and we may think of the final salvation, remembering these words, “[The Lord GOD] will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.  It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.  This is the LORD; we have waited for him;    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation’” (Isaiah 25:8-9, ESV).

            The Lord answers the prayers of His people.

            The Lord listens when His people cry out to Him in distress.

            The Lord is our salvation in life.

            The Lord is our salvation in death.

            Why do we call this day “good”?

            Paul explains in one of his benedictions:  “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:11-14, ESV).

            This day is called, “good,” – and we do well to give everlasting thanks to God – because through Jesus’ Death, Jesus completed part of the gracious work that He set out to do to deliver us from the reign of Satan over us.  We were slaves to the prince of lies, and we have been saved from his dominion over us through Christ suffering and dying for our sins.

            Not only that, we have been transferred from slavery in the devil’s domain to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God, through Whom we are redeemed.  Christ’s Life and Death were traded in to God that we would be brought back to God – reconciled – made right with Him – as sons and daughters – our sins have been forgive through Jesus and we are now, through the imputation of Christ’s Righteousness – through the crediting to our accounts of Jesus’ perfecting keeping of the Law of God – also seen as holy.  We are living this life now, striving for holiness, and looking forward to His Kingdom coming in all its fullness.

            On this day, we rejoice that the Lord saved the psalmist in this life and in the life to come and that He will do the same for all those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

            Let us pray:

            Almighty God, help us to see and receive the Work of Christ for our salvation.  Let us call out to You and cry to You for our daily needs and distresses and for all the hopes of our future – in this life, and in the Kingdom.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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