Psalm 116 is what noted Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann calls a Psalm of “reorientation.” It is the outpouring of a once hopelessly doomed life, now rescued by the Lord. We’ve seen some of the wording before in Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22, but this time it is different. In those cases, the distress was due to David’s enemies. This distress seems due to something else, perhaps an illness.
There is an interesting line in verse 15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
What does it mean?
I’ve tended to think that human death, particularly the death of a Christian is meaningless to God because that’s one more soul for heaven. I’ve heard people say in grief, of a loved one lost: “I guess God just wanted them in heaven.”
But God is no fan of death. Death, any death, is a temporary triumph for Satan. It always strikes fear into the hearts of God’s people, despite the fact that Jesus died to deliver us from just such a fear. When one of God’s children dies, when they have to face it or endure it, it affects God. In the Psalmist’s case, God delivered him, and the writer determined to make good on His promises.
Is it wrong to try to “make a deal” with God? Hopefully thus far you’ve noticed it is a common tactic in the Psalms. The important thing is not whether we try to “make a deal” with God, but whether we accept the deal God ultimately hands us.