Psalm 116

12  What shall I render to the Lord

for all his benefits to me?

13    I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the Lord,

14    I will pay my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people.

15    Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.

16    O Lord, I am your servant;

I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.

You have loosed my bonds.

17    I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call on the name of the Lord.

18    I will pay my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people,

19    in the courts of the house of the Lord,

in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord![1]

As we look at the rest of Psalm 116, we see how grounded love leads the Psalmist to praise and give thanks to God. Part 1 began by discussing how we often sing, or say, how we will do great things for God. But it lacks actual substance and grounding. This part of the Psalm talks about doing things for God, but God’s character and work ground it. The desire to do something is carried out by love for God and trust in Him. The resulting praise is both public and private.

Our Love for God Leads to Private Devotion

We see the Psalmist’s private devotion in saying how they will respond to what God has done. They will lift up the cup, call on the name of the Lord (vs. 13), serve the Lord (vs. 16), and give a thanksgiving offering (vs. 17).  The cup here may refer to the event that this Psalm was used for, it might be a specific action the Psalmist was doing out of thanks, or “cup” is often referred to as someone’s lot in life. With that in mind, it might be saying my lot in life has changed, take the praise that flows from it.

The bottom line, God’s deliverance, leads to the action of His people. We cannot pay him back for what He has done for us, to try to do that would be an insult since it is more valuable than anything we could do. But we can offer praise to Him and, through our private devotion, show His worthiness.

Our Love for God Leads to Public Devotion

Love for God also cannot be contained to ourselves. Those who have been loved by God can’t keep it to themselves. They know that God hears their prayers, and understand that they can call on His name, they are fully aware of their smallness and God’s bigness, and it overflows from private to public praise. Twice in this Psalm is mentioned paying vows in the presence of others (vs. 14, 18). These are things that the Psalmist has committed to before the Lord. He can’t keep it contained. Wilcock writes this, “The Old Testament knows of no private faith which is not also in some way public…without any awkwardness, a poem describing one man’s suffering and deliverance goes public.”[3]

Here is a challenge for all of us. When there are seasons of lament or difficulty, for many, it is encouraging to hear God’s work in an individual’s life. It is encouraging to listen to them thanking God for an answer to prayer. Be careful of so isolating your faith and God’s work that you are robbing others of sharing in your joy. Also, don’t wait to share until you’re on the other side. When we enter into the difficulties with one another, the celebrations are that much more precious.

Psalm 116 and Jesus

As we reflect on this Psalm, we can easily see hints of Jesus throughout. The Psalmist is in anguish and feels like they have no hope for life. They are pleading with God for deliverance. It’s hard not to think of Jesus in the garden pleading with God the Father to let the cup pass from Him (Matt. 26:39). Yet it was this cup that Jesus took for us so that we might be delivered from the greatest calamity of all. We don’t have to endure the pains of hell because Jesus died in our place. All who turn from their sin and trust in Him find ultimate deliverance.

This is the kind of rescue that leads us to love and to live for our great God. This is the kind of deliverance in which all others pale in comparison. The song “Jesus, Thank You” is a fitting conclusion for these two Psalm 116 posts. Think about these words and how they relate to this great Psalm.

Jesus Thank You


The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend

The agonies of Calvary

You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son

Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me



Your blood has washed away my sin

Jesus, thank You

The Father’s wrath completely satisfied

Jesus, thank You

Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table

Jesus, thank You



By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near

Your enemy You’ve made Your friend

Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace

Your mercy and Your kindness know no end.[4]



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 116:12–19.

[2] Some ideas for Spiritual Disciplines will be given in future posts. I will link to them when posted.

[3] Michael Wilcock, The Message of Psalms: Songs for the People of God, ed. J. A. Motyer, vol. 2, The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2001), 187.

[4] “Jesus, Thank You.” Sovereign Grace Music, n.d. Accessed January 29, 2020.