In Psalm 116:14, the psalmist asks: “How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me?”
Before answering that question, we should look at the good that God has done for the psalmist.
He has “turned his ear” to the psalmist and heard his cry for mercy (vv. 1-2).
He has delivered the psalmist from death and “the torments of Sheol” (vv. 3, 8).
He has rescued the psalmist from tears, from stumbling, from inexperience and helplessness (vv. 6, 8).
He has broken the psalmist’s chains and kept him believing . . . even in the face of severe oppression (vv. 10, 16).
So, then, how does the psalmist say he will repay the Lord?
One thing he will do is “fulfill his vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (v. 17).
That response makes sense to me. If God has done all these things for the psalmist, the psalmist had better keep his promises.
But what about this response? “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (v. 13). This is different.
It says something like this: “I will repay the Lord by calling on his name for more.”
How will that work?
This explanation has helped me:
The psalmist’s answer to his own question, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits?” is, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” In other words, I call on the Lord to fill the cup. To pay back the Lord means to go on receiving from the Lord so that the Lord’s inexhaustible goodness will be magnified.
Lifting up the cup of salvation signifies taking the Lord’s satisfying salvation in hand and drinking it and expecting more. We know this because of the next phrase: “I will . . . call on the name of the Lord.” I will call for more help.
What shall I render to God for graciously answering my call? Answer: I shall call again. I will render to God the praise and the tribute that he is never in need of me, but is always overflowing with benefits when I need him (which I always do).
Then the psalmist says, in the third place, “I will pay my vows to the Lord.” But how will they be paid? They will be paid by holding up the cup of salvation and by calling on the Lord. That is, they will be paid by faith in the promise that more grace — all-sufficient grace — is always on the way.
So the logic of this psalm is this: God doesn’t need us. But we need him. We need him more than anything. And it honors God when we come to him alone for our salvation and satisfaction.
As we continue in this special season of seeking the Lord through prayer and fasting together, remember that sincerely seeking and asking God for more of him honors him.
Fasting is a limited forsaking of one of our most pressing needs — the need for food — so we can focus on and seek more of our most important need — God.
He will answer our prayers. When he does, let’s thank him.
And then let’s ask him for more. His grace has no end.
-Charles Mauney, Worship Minister