In contrast with the previous series of six psalms, this one is more personalized. Here the psalmist may be speaking of himself and his relationship with the Lord. However, it’s also possible that he (the I in these verses) is Israel, not the psalmist. Maybe you would care to decide. Because there are possible hints of Aramaic in some of these verses, the psalm is thought to have been written after the Babylonian exile.
אָהַבְתִּי כִּי־יִשְׁמַע יְהוָה אֶת־קוֹלִי תַּחֲנוּנָי׃ 116:1
Psal. 116:1 I love that the Lord should hear my voice,
כִּי־הִטָּה אָזְנוֹ לִי וּבְיָמַי אֶקְרָא׃ 116:2
Psal. 116:2 that He extends His “ear” to me.
So in all my days I will call.
אֲפָפוּנִי חֶבְלֵי־מָוֶת וּמְצָרֵי שְׁאוֹל מְצָאוּנִי צָרָה וְיָגוֹן אֶמְצָא׃ 116:3
Psal. 116:3 The ropes of death surrounded me,
and the straits of the netherworld befell me,
trouble and sorrow I would find.
וּבְשֵׁם־יְהוָה אֶקְרָא אָנָּה יְהוָה מַלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי׃ 116:4
Psal. 116:4 and on the name of the Lord I would call,
“ I beseech You, O Lord, deliver my soul!”
חַנּוּן יְהֹוָה וְצַדִּיק וֵאלֹהֵינוּ מְרַחֵם׃ 116:5
Psal. 116:5 The Lord is gracious and righteous,
and it is our God Who is compassionate.
שֹׁמֵר פְּתָאיִם יְהֹוָה דַּלּוֹתִי וְלִי יְהוֹשִׁיעַ׃ 116:6
Psal. 116:6 The Lord is the Protector of fools.
I was low, but He was my Savior.
In this verse the psalmist seems to be self-deprecating (or mocking Israel). The word I translate as fools is really intended to be derogatory. It’s as if the psalmist is being sarcastic. Or maybe he is truly humble before the Lord.
שׁוּבִי נַפְשִׁי לִמְנוּחָיְכִי כִּי־יְהוָה גָּמַל עָלָיְכִי׃ 116:7
Psal. 116:7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the Lord deals bountifully on your behalf,
כִּי חִלַּצְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִמָּוֶת אֶת־עֵינִי מִן־דִּמְעָה אֶת־רַגְלִי מִדֶּחִי׃ 116:8
Psal. 116:8 when You deliver my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
אֶתְהַלֵּךְ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה בְּאַרְצוֹת הַחַיִּים׃ 116:9
Psal. 116:9 I shall move about before the Lord
in the lands of the living.
הֶאֱמַנְתִּי כִּי אֲדַבֵּר אֲנִי עָנִיתִי מְאֹד׃ 116:10
Psal. 116:10 I trusted, though I might have declared I was exceedingly afflicted.
אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי בְחָפְזִי כָּל־הָאָדָם כֹּזֵב׃ 116:11
Psal. 116:11 I said in my haste, “Every man is a deceiver.”
What do you suppose the psalmist means when he says “I said in my haste,...?” Does he doubt his claim when he is not in haste, when he can reconsider? Maybe most men, ..., not all men, ..., are deceivers? Is our view of others a mirror image of ourselves? If we deceive, don’t we tend to believe that others deceive too? Was the psalmist a deceiver? Not if he was David. David acknowledged his transgressions.
מָה־אָשִׁיב לַיהוָה כָּל־תַּגְמוּלוֹהִי עָלָי׃ 116:12
Psal. 116:12 How can I repay to the Lord all His acts of grace on my behalf?
כּוֹס־יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָּׂא וּבְשֵׁם יְהוָה אֶקְרָא׃ 116:13
Psal. 116:13 I will lift up a cup of salvation,
and call on the name of the Lord.
נְדָרַי לַיהוָה אֲשַׁלֵּם נֶגְדָה־נָּא לְכָל־עַמּוֹ׃ 116:14
Psal. 116:14 I will pay my vows to the Lord,
conspicuously, now, for all His people.
יָקָר בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה הַמָּוְתָה לַחֲסִידָיו׃ 116:15
Psal. 116:15 Weighty in the “eyes” of the Lord is death for any of His faithful.
This verse seems to be introductory to the next one. The psalmist may be speaking of himself (or Israel) here, and goes on to show why he thinks this is true: Because (next verse) he -- or Israel -- was rescued from distressing bonds and didn’t fall dead.
אָנָּה יְהוָה כִּי־אֲנִי עַבְדֶּךָ אֲנִי־עַבְדְּךָ בֶּן־אֲמָתֶךָ פִּתַּחְתָּ לְמוֹסֵרָי׃ 116:16
Psal. 116:16 Ah now, Lord, because I am Your servant,
I, Your servant, am the son of Your hand maid,
You made loose my bonds.
לְךָ־אֶזְבַּח זֶבַח תּוֹדָה וּבְשֵׁם יְהוָה אֶקְרָא׃ 116:17
Psal. 116:17 I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to You,
and call on the name of the Lord.
נְדָרַי לַיהוָה אֲשַׁלֵּם נֶגְדָה־נָּא לְכָל־עַמּוֹ׃ 116:18
Psal. 116:18 I will pay my vows to the Lord,
conspicuously, now, for all His people,
בְּחַצְרוֹת בֵּית יְהוָה בְּתוֹכֵכִי יְרוּשָׁלִָם הַלְלוּ־יָהּ׃ 116:19
Psal. 116:19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
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