The psalmist declares his love to the Lord. (1-9) His desire to be thankful. (10-19)
Verses 1-9 We have many reasons for loving the Lord, but are most affected by his loving-kindness when relieved out of deep distress. When a poor sinner is awakened to a sense of his state, and fears that he must soon sink under the just wrath of God, then he finds trouble and sorrow. But let all such call upon the Lord to deliver their souls, and they will find him gracious and true to his promise. Neither ignorance nor guilt will hinder their salvation, when they put their trust in the Lord. Let us all speak of God as we have found him; and have we ever found him otherwise than just and good? It is of his mercies that we are not consumed. Let those who labour and are heavy laden come to him, that they may find rest to their souls; and if at all drawn from their rest, let them haste to return, remembering how bountifully the Lord has dealt with them. We should deem ourselves bound to walk as in his presence. It is a great mercy to be kept from being swallowed up with over-much sorrow. It is a great mercy for God to hold us by the right hand, so that we are not overcome and overthrown by a temptation. But when we enter the heavenly rest, deliverance from sin and sorrow will be complete; we shall behold the glory of the Lord, and walk in his presence with delight we cannot now conceive.
Verses 10-19 When troubled, we do best to hold our peace, for we are apt to speak unadvisedly. Yet there may be true faith where there are workings of unbelief; but then faith will prevail; and being humbled for our distrust of God's word, we shall experience his faithfulness to it. What can the pardoned sinner, or what can those who have been delivered from trouble or distress, render to the Lord for his benefits? We cannot in any way profit him. Our best is unworthy of his acceptance; yet we ought to devote ourselves and all we have to his service. I will take the cup of salvation; I will offer the drink-offerings appointed by the law, in token of thankfulness to God, and rejoice in God's goodness to me. I will receive the cup of affliction; that cup, that bitter cup, which is sanctified to the saints, so that to them it is a cup of salvation; it is a means of spiritual health. The cup of consolation; I will receive the benefits God bestows upon me, as from his hand, and taste his love in them, as the portion not only of mine inheritance in the other world, but of my cup in this. Let others serve what masters they will, truly I am thy servant. Two ways men came to be servants. By birth. Lord, I was born in thy house; I am the son of thine handmaid, and therefore thine. It is a great mercy to be children of godly parents. By redemption. Lord, thou hast loosed my bonds, thou hast discharged me from them, therefore I am thy servant. The bonds thou hast loosed shall tie me faster unto thee. Doing good is sacrifice, with which God is well pleased; and this must accompany giving thanks to his name. Why should we offer that to the Lord which cost us nothing? The psalmist will pay his vows now; he will not delay the payment: publicly, not to make a boast, but to show he is not ashamed of God's service, and to invite others to join him. Such are true saints of God, in whose lives and deaths he will be glorified.
Theodoret applies this psalm to the distresses of the Jews in the times of the Maccabees under Antiochus Epiphanes; and R. Obadiah interprets some passages in it of the Grecians of those times; but it rather seems to have been written by David on account of some troubles of his, out of which he was delivered; and refers either to the times of Saul, and the persecutions he endured from him, particularly when he was beset round about by him and his men in the wilderness of Maon, 1Sa 23:26, to which he may have respect Ps 116:3. The inscription of the psalm in the Syriac version is,
``the progress of the new people returning to the Christian worship, as a child to understanding: and as to the letter, it was said when Saul stayed at the door of the cave where David lay hid with his men;''
see 1Sa 24:4. But since mention is made of Jerusalem, Ps 116:19, where the psalmist would praise the Lord for his deliverance, which as yet was not in his hands nor in the hands of the Israelites, but of the Jebusites; some have thought it was written on account of the conspiracy of Absalom against him, and who, hearing that Ahithophel was among the conspirators, said the words related in Ps 116:11, it is very probable it was composed after the death of Saul, and when he was settled in the kingdom, as Jarchi observes, and was delivered out of the hands of all his enemies; and very likely much about the same time as the eighteenth psalm was, which begins in the same manner, and has some expressions in it like to what are in this. David was a type of Christ, and some apply this psalm to him.