Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just wanted a do over? Perhaps you, like I, have regretted saying things due to frustration or just lack of preparation and wanted to take those words back and start again. Or maybe a job or a relationship got off to a horrible start and you spend the rest of your time trying to make up for that bad beginning. In one way or another, we have all been there. But has the prospect of death ever visited you so strongly—whether due to illness, accident, or attack—that led you to reevaluate your priorities seriously or at least reflect on that moment enough to see life in a new light? Most of us have had close calls in automobile accidents. Many know what it is like to survive cancer. Some have returned from the heat of battle. And if we understand the blessing of life at all, such experiences ought to motivate us to engage in sober reflection on what life ought to be going forward.
The anonymous psalmist who penned Psalm 116 offers us just such a reflection. In a burst of emotion and joyous conviction, he calls attention to that moment when, desperate and with death looming over him like an enemy ready to strike, he called on the LORD for help (Psa. 116:1-4). However, as he then went on to explain the deliverance provided, he began with the LORD’s character: gracious, righteous, and merciful (Psa. 116:5-6). This perspective changed everything, for by it he saw his new lease on life as a bountiful blessing from the Lord that gave him new opportunity, drove away sorrow, and helped him get back on his feet—a series of blessings we often long for in the moment and yet forget after the crisis has passed (Psa. 116:7-8). Life goes on because the Lord has made that possible (Psa. 116:9). Then, turning his attention once more to what made this possible, he emphasizes that despite his circumstances, his faith in God never wavered, though his confidence in men most certainly did (Psa. 116:10-11). Therefore, having received deliverance through a positively answered prayer, the psalmist asks the question, “What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12) and then proceeds to answer in the verses that follow, promising to accept this new opportunity at life as powerful proof of the LORD’s care and of how much He cherishes His people (Psa. 116:13-15). Thus, to be the Lord’s slave is a position of value one should cherish as well, for there is greater care and honor in serving God than in the greatest awards available for serving self (Psa. 116:16). The opportunity to offer something back to God, considering all that He has done for us, is a monumental blessing itself, a privilege that deserves publicity far and wide (Psa. 116:17-19).
God’s people, forgiven of their sins (Eph. 1:7; Acts 22:16), dead to the world (Col. 3:5ff), and living anew (Jn. 3:3-5; Rom. 6:3-4), should embrace this new life that makes living a privilege rather than just some random experience we muddle through. Perspective matters greatly—how you see yourself, your God, and others. So, if you want the best life (John 10:10),…
- Love the Lord with all your being as long as you live (Psa. 116:1-2).
- Recognize what only God can do (Psa. 116:3-4).
- Have confidence in God’s character and a humble attitude toward yourself and your need (Psa. 116:5-6).
- Be at peace and relax, knowing that God is in control and will take care of you, come what may (Psa. 116:7-8).
- Live each day knowing the LORD sees you so that you can live each day longing to—one day—see the LORD (Psa. 116:9).
- Have such a faith that adversity causes you to trust the Lord more—not less (Psa. 116:10-11).
- Recognize spiritual opportunity and seize it (Psa. 116:12-13).
- Take spiritual responsibilities—and life—seriously (Psa. 116:14-15).
- See yourself as a servant (Psa. 116:16).
- Live life with a thankful heart (Psa. 116:17-19).
These principles are nothing new; they are centuries old, rooted in the very nature of life as God created it. And that is what makes them worth living.