“Then I called on the Name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:4
I love Psalm 116 because I can’t miss seeing myself in the Psalmist’s experience. He is struggling. The things of this world appear to have overcome him. He says, in verse 3, “The snares of death encompassed me, the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me. I suffered distress and anguish.” I have been in that place. Distress and anguish, the snares of death. Feeling like nightfall and separation have laid hold of me. It’s a tough place to be, isn’t it? I’m certain many of the saints reading this will readily agree that they too feel as though they personally know the Psalmist’s troubles, here.
Something similar is happening in Psalm 73, in which the Psalmist says, “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped, for I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Vs. 2-3). He goes on, then, to describe what he sees in this world: the ease with which the wicked move through this life. They overflow with pleasures, and seem to have no troubles at all. No justice. No harshsips. Just ease and happiness. You can hear Asaph’s wrath toward them, “Their tongue struts through the earth.” (Vs. 9) Indeed, he even concludes, “All in vain have I kept my heart pure.” Translation: what’s the point of all this heavenly-minded business, anyway? Look at them. All their fancy cars and fine dining. And they’re happy and care-free, too.
What do you notice about Asaph’s perspective? Where is his focus? It’s on the things of this world. He has taken his eyes off of the Living God, and has found that his heart is in turmoil. Chaos abounds because he is concerned about the pleasures of this world, and he jealous for them.
Until verse 17, “Then I went into the sanctuary of God.” That’s when everything changes. So, too, in our Psalm 116. Distress and anguish have encompassed the author. “Then I called on the name of the Lord. “ From that moment on, everything changes. “Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (Ps. 116:7)
Did you catch that? As in Psalm 73, where Asaph is distressed until he regains his vision of who God is, here a return to God-centered devotion produces the sweetest fruit in all the cosmos: a soul that is at rest in God.
The chaos of this life is still abounding, isn’t it? Lots of stress points for all of us. Loneliness, sadness, distress and anguish. It’s chaotic. But it’s only chaotic when our eyes are pulled down and off of our Savior. But when we call on the Name of the Lord, He gives us a soul at rest. That’s why the author of Hebrews exhorts us, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of the faith.” (Heb 12:2) This is prayer for you today: Keep your eyes on Him, that you may gain a soul at rest.