Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 3, Psalm

Psalm 116
I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *
     because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him. 
The cords of death entangled me;
     the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
     I came to grief and sorrow. 
Then I called upon the Name of the LORD: *
     "O LORD, I pray you, save my life." 
Gracious is the LORD and righteous; *
     our God is full of compassion. 
The LORD watches over the innocent; *
     I was brought very low, and he helped me. 
Turn again to your rest, O my soul, *
     for the LORD has treated you well. 
For you have rescued my life from death, *
     my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. 
I will walk in the presence of the LORD *
     in the land of the living. 
I believed, even when I said,
     "I have been brought very low." *
     In my distress I said, "No one can be trusted." 
How shall I repay the LORD *
     for all the good things he has done for me? 
I will lift up the cup of salvation *
     and call upon 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 servants. 
O LORD, I am your servant; *
     I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
     you have freed me from my bonds. 
I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
     and call upon the Name of the LORD. 
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD *
     in the presence of all his people, 
In the courts of the LORD'S house, *
     in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Reflection on Psalm 116
by John Gibbs, Ph D

“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World”
(On the Road with a Large-Scale View)

The testimony of a grateful soul to her/his congregation starts this psalm of thanksgiving for healing (vv. 1-2). The healing was from serious illness that “brought low” the person (v. 6), and was a matter of life or death (vv. 3-4). “I suffered distress and anguish” (v. 3).

Healing comes when this person “returns” (same Hebrew word as is used for “repent”) to her/his “rest” (v. 7). That is when “I walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (v. 9), and reconnect to the larger context of personal existence (“in the presence of all his people,” vv. 18-19). Here is another instance of biblical emphasis on community as the context (vv. 9, 14, 18-19) of God’s work for the person (vv. 5-8).

The thanksgiving sacrifice (v. 17) is made with a holistic consciousness that is typical of Israel’s faith. Humanity is not “a tray of sand, with no cohesion, and simply a collection of units,” to use H. H. Rowley’s graphic expression (The Faith of Israel, p. 105; London: SCM Press, 1956). “In the faith of Israel every man was his brother’s keeper, and his brother was every man” (Ibid. p. 123; Cf. Chapter IV, “Individual and Community,” pp. 99-123).

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Isaiah 43:1-12
Psalm 116
this page
New Testament
1 Peter 1:17-23 or 
Acts 2:14a, 36-47
Luke 24:13-35

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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