Okay? We're now gonna turn to our bible reading. So let's read Psalm hundred and 16 together. I love the Lord for he heard my voice. He heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me The anguish of the grave came over me. I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called in the name of the Lord. Lord, save me.
The Lord is gracious and righteous. Our god is full of compassion. The lord protects the unwary when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes, from tears, my feet, from stumbling that I may walk before the lord in the land of the living.
I trusted in the lord when I said, I'm greatly afflicted. In my alarm, I said, everyone is a liar. What shall I return to the lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his faithful servants. Truly, I am your servant lord. I serve you just as my mother did, you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
In the course of the House of the Lord, in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord. When I was at university, I took part in a Christian Union debate with another student from the atheist society. And afterwards, there was a question and answer session. And trying to be helpful, 1 of my friends asked a very well meaning, but surprise question.
And I genuinely didn't know what to say. This was his question. Why do you love Jesus? Why do you love Jesus? Now, on 1 level, that's not exactly a stumper, is it?
You might say something like this. We love God because he loved us first. So if Jesus gave his life to rescue me from sin, death, and hell, then surely, it's the least that I can do to serve him joyfully with a thankful heart and to love him. So why did I trip over this perfectly reasonable question? Maybe it was because I prepared for science versus god in just caught me off guard.
Or maybe it's because I'm too British, and any talk of love confuses me and makes me ask, What do you mean by that? Jesus isn't my boyfriend. Now, the bible tells us some definite things about love, which is very helpful if like me, you're British. For example, Jesus said if you love me, keep my commands. Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
So maybe I could rephrase that question. Why do you love Jesus? Why do you try to do what Jesus says? A bait is teaching. Keep his commands.
Why do you think those ideas are so good that they're worth putting into practice every day? Why bother? And that's a much easier question to answer, isn't it? No awkward, boyfriend references, just pure, cold, hard fact. I try to do what he says because I've read his words, and I think he's right.
Now, that very British answer is somewhat devoid of any real emotion. But in today's reading, we're gonna meet some people who answer that same question with stacks of emotion and for a very good reason. Why do you love the Lord Jesus? What's the best answer we can give? Our friends who might ask that question.
That's what we're gonna think about this morning. So let's have a look at verse 1. I love the Lord that he heard my voice He heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The person who wrote Psalm 1 1 6 is happy to give us the reason why.
For he heard my voice, He heard my cry for mercy because he turned his ear to me. God listens. He listens to prayer. He bends down from heaven and turns his face towards the 1 who calls on him. And more than that, he answers the prayer as well.
Now, God doesn't answer every prayer with a yes, sometimes it's a no, sometimes you have to wait. But in Christ, he hears you. Like a child, asking their parents for something. They might say yes, they might say no, they might say wait. But you know they've heard you, and you know that they'll give you an answer.
But whether that answer is a yes, no, or a later, The bible tells you to cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you. Now, we'll see as we go through the song, that this was a pretty big deal. It was a serious situation and a desperate prayer. No small matter. It was a cry for mercy.
It was life and death. And because God answers this prayer, the writer's happy to say with a thankful heart, I love the words and I will call on him as long as I live. This is his testimony. He's inviting you in to listen to his story. And to come and meet the God who's rescued him.
So let's turn to the next few verses to see exactly what's going on here. Our first point this morning, you, lord, have delivered me from death. You've delivered me from death. Have a look at verse 3. The courts of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave.
Came over me. I was overcome by distress and sorrow, then I called on the name of the Lord. Lord, save me. Other translations say the ropes or snares of death surrounded me. It's actually a hunting illustration.
You might think of 1 of those David Attenberg programs where a pack of hungry wolves A surrounding some poor old deer they want for their lunch. Everywhere you look, shock, gnashing teeth, are growling at you. They're closing in for the kill, and there's no way out. It's a life and death moment. This is it.
Entangled in the courts of death. The King James Bible says, the pains of hell get hold upon me. As if the underworld itself was actually pulling him down into the depths. He was overcome by distress and sorrow. Now, he certainly describes this in a poetic way, but you can feel how desperate he was.
And it was then that he called on the name of the lord, lord save me. And that's the prayer. That's been answered in verse 2, and that's why he loves the Lord. It's not a long prayer, but it's not too short either. And more importantly, it's addressed to the right person, the only person who could do something about it, and he did.
So let's have a look at how the writer responds to God's rescue in verse 5. The lord is gracious and righteous. Our God is full of compassion. The lord protects the unwary. When I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death. My eyes from tears. My feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the lord in the land of the living. It's a major turnaround of events, isn't it?
Delivered from death to walk before the lord in the land of the living. And now, after what can only be described as a terrible experience, his soul verse 7. Can finally return to its rest. For the lord, has been good to you. Now, we're not told anymore about the specific circumstances that the writer finds himself in.
We don't even know who wrote it or when. Now, it would be great to know, wouldn't it? With such a dramatic story, you wanna know the details, but you can't. And I wanna suggest that that's a good thing because it makes this song something of a timeless classic you can apply it to almost any age. In a sense, it doesn't matter who sings it because there are so many people who could say those words.
But it is worth considering a few examples from the bible itself. Firstly, think about Moses and Israel in Egypt. Remember, at 1 point, Ferro commanded his people to throw all their baby boys into the river. Here's how the book of exodus describes their condition. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.
God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. So, God looked on the israelites and was concerned about them. Do you see how it fits if Israel sing this sum in Egypt? Overcome by distress and sorrow, they call on the name of the Lord to save them. And he does.
He hears them and sends them a rescuer to deliver them. Because our God is full of compassion. Maybe this song was written for Israel to sing as they remembered the exodus. But surely, the most obvious example is the lord Jesus himself. You can hear Jesus singing every verse of this song.
In the Garden of gethsemane as he prepared to go to the cross. Jesus said, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow. To the point of death. He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, my father, If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me? Yet not as I will, but as you will.
But there was no other way. So on the cross, Jesus gave his life for the sins of the world. The chords of death entangled him, the anguish of the grave came over him. But he cried out to his father, in prayer from the cross. My god.
My god. Why have you forsaken me? Father, into your hands. I commit my spirit. And on the third day, God delivered him from death.
Now, he is seated at the right hand of his father in the land of the living. Jesus can sing this song. Israel can sing this song. And if you think about it, David, Joe, and many others can sing this song as well. It's a timeless, classic.
It doesn't matter who wrote it because so many of God's people have been able to take the words of this psalm on their lips over thousands of years. And the thing that they have in common is this, God always has a great rescue plan for his people. Full of compassion, our rescuing God, hears our prayers, and comes down to deliver his people. Now, this sum can still be sung by God's people today. We are so united with Jesus Christ that his love is our love.
His suffering is our suffering. His death is our death and his life is our life. Jesus global church is no stranger to suffering. For 2000 years, persecuted believers have cried out to God, overcome by distress and sorrow. Thousands of martyrs laid down their lives for the lord Jesus every year.
And they are able to do so because of the great Christian hope that just like our lord Jesus, even in that most costly sacrifice, that God will deliver us from death that we may walk before him in the land of the living. Have a look at verse 15 of this son. Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his faithful servants. The word precious means costly or expensive. If something is precious to you, it's very special.
It's valuable. It was no small matter for God, the father, to send his son, his most faithful servant. To the cross to rescue us. It was costly. It was precious.
And in the same way, the bible says here that none of us in Christ are any different. We are immortal until our work on Earth is done. And when our time comes to go to him, Our deaths will be precious in the sight of the lord. Commenting on this verse, Charles spurgeon says, the lord watches over their dying beds smooths their pillows. Sustains their hearts and receives their souls.
Versate, for you, Lord, have delivered me from death. My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. That I may walk before the lords in the land of the living. In the new heaven and earth, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. And there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.
For the old order of things, we'll have passed away. And all of that was true, ages before the coronavirus pandemic began. But we should pause for a moment to think how this applies to our own situation. In the light of God's great rescue. Not all suffering ends in death.
But in some way, this pandemic has affected all of us. Some of us more badly than others. Some have lost loved ones. We've lost jobs. We've lost mine.
All of us have had to social distance from 1 another and not see our family and our friends. And it started to affect our mental health. Our thinking, and most of us are fed up with it. As we suffer this year, some of us will want to echo those words in verse 3. The anguish of the grave came over me.
I was overcome by distress and sorry, but the story doesn't end there. God's people do cry out to him in prayer for mercy in their suffering. And this Psalm tells us that as you do so, he hears your voice. He turns his ear to you. He is gracious.
And full of compassion. He saves the 1 who is brought low. He delivers them from death that they may walk before him. In the land of the living. In the end, this is a Psalm of thanksgiving to God for the deliverance he brings from trouble.
And that's why we must hear it this morning. This present crisis will not last forever. Just imagine the joy that you will feel when all this is over and no 1 says the word COVID, any more. For most of us, there will come a day of deliverance from 20 20 suffering. And on that day, there will be great rejoicing in the church when we finally all meet together again.
Packed into a school canteen in our hundreds, holding hands, shouting our praises to God with no face coverings. But even if we don't live to see that day, the Christian still has an eternal hope in Christ. Of resurrection from the grave. Internal life in a perfect new world with Jesus. Neither death nor life nor anything else in creation can separate us from the love of God.
That is in Christ Jesus, our lord. Have a look at verse 10. I trusted in the Lord when I said, I am greatly afflicted. In my alarm, I said. Everyone is a liar.
It seems the writer can't depend on human help. Perhaps, like Jesus, he's been abandoned by his friends. Perhaps they couldn't do anything anyway. Only the lord can save him. So he puts his trust in God alone.
Now, the apostle Paul starts preaching this verse in his letter to the Corinthians Church. Look how he applies it there. It is written, I believed, therefore, I have spoken. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak. Because we know that the 1 who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
Now, Paul carries on preaching that for a long time. But to summarize, he's basically saying, we are greatly afflicted. But through faith in Christ alone, we know that 1 day we will be raised with him to eternal glory, and we can't help but tell you all about it. So, if you're a Christian watching this this morning, you can take the words of this song on your lips. We are the people who need God's rescue, who call out to him every day.
And in Christ, This is our rescue too. The Lord sees your suffering and he hears your prayer. In Christ, he delivers you from death, your eyes, from tears, your feet, from stumbling. That you may walk before him in the land of the living. And now your soul can return to its rest.
For the lord Jesus has been good to you. Why do you love the lord Jesus? Because he's delivered me from death. Now, in the second half of this song, the writer asks the obvious question. How then shall we respond?
And that's our final point this morning, verse 12. What shall I return to the lord? For all his goodness to me. What shall I return to the lord? How should we respond?
And, of course, in 1 sense, there is nothing we can return to the lord for all his goodness. We can't pay him back. Nor do we have to. It is by grace that you have been saved. It's a free gift from God.
But that doesn't mean that we don't respond. So let's look at what this psalm actually says to help us act in the most appropriate way. First 12, what shall I return to the lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the lord. I will fulfill my vows to the lord in the presence of all his people.
And verse 16, Truly, I am your servant lord. I serve you just as my mother did. You have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the lord. I will fulfill my vows to the lord in the present of all his people.
In the courts of the House of the Lord in your midst Jerusalem, praise the Lord. Now remember, this is an old testament believer speaking. It was part of his custom to go to the temple and offer sacrifices. That would involve an animal sacrifice, and then ceremonial feasting, eating, and drinking. And a lot of the language in the song refers to that custom.
But for us, this is slightly different because things today have changed. We don't go to the temple anymore because Jesus is our sacrifice. Yet, some of the things that are written in this psalm are just timeless as in the first half. Firstly, perhaps you've noticed how the author keeps saying that he will call on the name of the lord. It's written in this short song 4 times, and he's talking about prayer.
He's saying because the law answered his prayer in his deepest distress. He will continue to call on him as long as he lives. Again, spurgeon has a brilliant take on this. So let me paraphrase for you. You wouldn't thank a beggar, who said that because you've granted him his request, that he'd never stop begging from you for the rest of his life, And yet, God is so patient with us and so good to us that not only will he listen to all of those prayers but that he even wants us to keep on asking.
If God has answered the greatest prayer in our lives, to deliver us from death in Christ. Well, he also wants to hear from us in the small everyday things in our lives as well. So we must pray and we can pray about everything. Secondly, this whole song is testimonial. And twice here, the writer says that he will fulfill his vows in the presence of the Lord's people.
He wants to respond at the temple gathering to lift up the cup of salvation, worship with God's people, celebrate with them and encourage them by sharing his experience of God's deliverance. And that's something that we can all do. Although, obviously, we can't be together today, which is quite strange. But normally, we do gather together as the lord's people. And we all have a testimony to share of how God has saved us and brought us into his kingdom.
It might not be as dramatic as the story in today's Psalm. But if you're a Christian, the same God has performed a similar rescue in your own life. He's delivered you from death that you may walk before him in the land of the living. And he's given you that testimony to share with the church and with the world. And now, like our size, do you want to worship with God's people and celebrate with them and encourage them as you lift up the cup of salvation and pray together about everything.
By the way, if you're not a Christian this morning, why not ask your Christian friends about this? What was their experience of God's saving rescue in their lives? What were their lives like before and after meeting Jesus? Every believer has a story to tell of how God has helped them. And if you only ask it, he will help you too.
Jesus says, come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. This is a story of a man that God has rescued. And the writer is inviting you to come and meet his God so that you too can experience the same saving grace that he has. We must testify and share what God has done for us with others. But lastly, the psalmist presents a thank offering as a part of his worship vows.
And it makes us ask What is our thank offering? What is our sacrificial, grateful, worshipful response to what God has done for us? We must pray, we must testify to God's goodness, but listen to these words from the apostle Paul. Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.
A living sacrifice is 1 that keeps on giving and serving the Lord. So in our service of each other, Here in this church, we are responding thankfully to what God has done for us. So we must keep on serving the Lord with a thankful heart. Verse 16. Truly, I am your servant lord.
I serve you just as my mother did. You have freed me from my chains. The writers been freed from his chains of bondage and slavery, But what for? Freedom to do whatever he likes? No.
He says, I am your servant. You freed me from my chains Now I will serve you and your people. So we can't pay God back for his rescue, but we can still respond. We can pray to him about all things. We can testify to his goodness before others, and we can serve him and his people with thankful heart.
So back to the original question. Why do you love the lord Jesus? The bible says, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy. He turned his ear to me because he cares for me because he's gracious and full of compassion. Because he has a great plan to rescue me.
My death will be precious in his sight. He'll raise me to eternal glory and wipe away every tear from my eyes. I will walk before him in the land. Of the living. Nothing can separate me from his love.
I can never pay him back, but I will always pray to him. Always tell others about him. I would always serve him. He is my lord. Let's pray.
Heavenly father, we love you. Please fill out prayers and praises with the emotion of true gratitude. Thank you for hearing our prayers in Christ and for your fatherly compassion towards us. Thank you for the great rescue that you have saved us through the finished work of Jesus. That even our deaths are precious in your sight.
That our souls can rest in your finished work. And lord, thank you for this timeless song that we can sing today. Please have mercy on the suffering of your people throughout this pandemic. Help us to respond to you in the right way. Not by trying to pay you back, but by calling on your name as long as we live, by telling others about Jesus.
And by serving you and your people with a thankful heart, we bring all our prayers before you in the name of our lord Jesus, arm,