PSALM 116*

Thanksgiving to God Who Saves from Death


1I love the LORD, who listened

to my voice in supplication,

2Who turned an ear to me

on the day I called.

3I was caught by the cords of death;*a

the snares of Sheol had seized me;

I felt agony and dread.

4Then I called on the name of the LORD,

“O LORD, save my life!”


5Gracious is the LORD and righteous;

yes, our God is merciful.b

6The LORD protects the simple;

I was helpless, but he saved me.

7Return, my soul, to your rest;

the LORD has been very good to you.c

8For my soul has been freed from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.d

9I shall walk before the LORD

in the land of the living.*e


10*I kept faith, even when I said,

“I am greatly afflicted!”f

11I said in my alarm,

“All men are liars!”g

12How can I repay the LORD

for all the great good done for me?

13I will raise the cup of salvation*

and call on the name of the LORD.

14I will pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

15*Dear in the eyes of the LORD

is the death of his devoted.h

16LORD, I am your servant,

your servant, the child of your maidservant;i

you have loosed my bonds.

17I will offer a sacrifice of praise

and call on the name of the LORD.j

18I will pay my vows to the LORDk

in the presence of all his people,

19In the courts of the house of the LORD,

in your midst, O Jerusalem.


* [Psalm 116] A thanksgiving in which the psalmist responds to divine rescue from mortal danger (Ps 116:34) and from near despair (Ps 116:1011) with vows and Temple sacrifices (Ps 116:1314, 1719). The Greek and Latin versions divide the Psalm into two parts: Ps 116:19 and Ps 116:1019, corresponding to its two major divisions.

* [116:3] The cords of death: death is personified here; it attempts to capture the psalmist with snares and nets, cf. Ps 18:6.

* [116:9] The land of the living: the phrase elsewhere is an epithet of the Jerusalem Temple (cf. Ps 27:13; 52:5; Is 38:11). Hence the psalmist probably refers to being present to God in the Temple.

* [116:10] I kept faith, even when I said: even in the days of despair, the psalmist did not lose all hope.

* [116:13] The cup of salvation: probably the libation of wine poured out in gratitude for rescue, cf. Ex 25:29; Nm 15:5, 7, 10.

* [116:15] Dear in the eyes of the LORD: the meaning is that the death of God’s faithful is grievous to God, not that God is pleased with the death, cf. Ps 72:14. In Wis 3:56, God accepts the death of the righteous as a sacrificial burnt offering.

a. [116:3] Ps 18:5; Jon 2:3.

b. [116:5] Ex 34:6.

c. [116:7] Ps 13:6.

d. [116:8] Ps 56:14; Is 25:8; Rev 21:4.

e. [116:9] Ps 27:13; 56:14; Is 38:11.

f. [116:10] 2 Cor 4:13.

g. [116:11] Ps 12:2.

h. [116:15] Ps 72:14; Is 43:4.

i. [116:16] Ps 86:16; 143:12; Wis 9:5.

j. [116:17] Lv 7:12ff.

k. [116:18] Jon 2:10.

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