Psalm 116sn Psalm 116. The psalmist thanks the Lord for delivering him from a life threatening crisis and promises to tell the entire covenant community what God has done for him.
1 I love the Lord
because he heard my plea for mercy,tn Heb “I love because the Lord heard my voice, my pleas.” It is possible that “the Lord” originally appeared directly after “I love” and was later accidentally misplaced. The translation assumes the prefixed verbal form is a preterite. The psalmist recalls that God heard his cry for help (note the perfect in v. 2a and the narrative in vv. 3-4).
2 and listened to me.tn Heb “because he turned his ear to me.”
As long as I live, I will call to him when I need help.tn Heb “and in my days I will cry out.”
3 The ropes of death tightened around me,tn Heb “surrounded me.”
the snarestn The Hebrew noun מצר (“straits; distress”) occurs only here, Ps 118:5 and Lam 1:3. If retained, it refers to Sheol as a place where one is confined or severely restricted (cf. BDB 865 s.v. מֵצַר, “the straits of Sheol”; NIV “the anguish of the grave”; NRSV “the pangs of Sheol”). However, HALOT 624 s.v. מֵצַר suggests an emendation to מְצָדֵי (mÿtsadey, “snares of”), a rare noun attested in Job 19:6 and Eccl 7:26. This proposal, which is reflected in the translation, produces better parallelism with “ropes” in the preceding line. of Sheol confronted me.
I was confrontedtn The translation assumes the prefixed verbal form is a preterite. The psalmist recalls the crisis from which the Lord delivered him. with trouble and sorrow.
4 I called on the name of the Lord,
“Please Lord, rescue my life!”
5 The Lord is merciful and fair;
our God is compassionate.
6 The Lord protectstn Heb “guards.” The active participle indicates this is a characteristic of the Lord. the untrained;tn Or “the [morally] naive,” that is, the one who is young and still in the process of learning right from wrong and distinguishing wisdom from folly. See Ps 19:7.
I was in serious troubletn Heb “I was low.” and he delivered me.
7 Rest once more, my soul,tn Heb “return, my soul, to your place of rest.”
for the Lord has vindicated you.tn The Hebrew idiom גָּמַל עַל (gamal ’al) means “to repay,” here in a positive sense (cf. Ps 13:5).
8 Yes,tn Or “for.” Lord,tn “Lord” is supplied here in the translation for clarification. you rescued my life from death,
and kept my feet from stumbling.
9 I will servetn Heb “walk before” (see Ps 56:13). On the meaning of the Hebrew idiom, see the notes at 2 Kgs 20:3/Isa 38:3. the Lord
in the landtn Heb “lands, regions.” of the living.
10 I had faith when I said,
“I am severely oppressed.”
11 I rashly declared,tn Heb “I said in my haste.”
“All men are liars.”
12 How can I repay the Lord
for all his acts of kindness to me?
13 I will celebrate my deliverance,tn Heb “a cup of deliverance I will lift up.” Perhaps this alludes to a drink offering the psalmist will present as he thanks the Lord for his deliverance. See v. 17.
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
before all his people.
15 The Lord values
the lives of his faithful followers.tn Heb “precious in the eyes of the Lord [is] the death of his godly ones.” The point is not that God delights in or finds satisfaction in the death of his followers! The psalmist, who has been delivered from death, affirms that the life-threatening experiences of God’s followers get God’s attention, just as a precious or rare object would attract someone’s eye. See Ps 72:14 for a similar expression of this belief.
16 Yes, Lord! I am indeed your servant;
I am your lowest slave.tn Heb “I am your servant, the son of your female servant.” The phrase “son of a female servant” (see also Ps 86:16) is used of a son born to a secondary wife or concubine (Exod 23:12). In some cases the child’s father is the master of the house (see Gen 21:10, 13; Judg 9:18). The use of the expression here certainly does not imply that the Lord has such a secondary wife or concubine! It is used metaphorically and idiomatically to emphasize the psalmist’s humility before the Lord and his status as the Lord’s servant.
You saved me from death.tn Heb “you have loosed my bonds.” In this context the imagery refers to deliverance from death (see v. 3).
17 I will present a thank offering to you,
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
before all his people,
19 in the courts of the Lord’s temple,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!