Tucked away in the biblical book of Psalms there are a half dozen songs that served a special purpose for God’s children. One commentator summarizes their use like this:
Psalms 113-118 are a small collection of Hallel-Psalms which were used in Jewish worship, and had their place in the liturgy for the feasts of Pilgrimage, Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles, as well as the New Moon and the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple.
At the family Passover celebration Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the meal and Psalms 115-118 afterwards (Matthew 26:26, 30 and Mark 14:22, 26)
Unlike the people who first ate the Passover meal, most of us have not been led from the captivity of chains to freedom. But many of us have had an experience of deliverance by God. The Psalmist envisioned recovery from a serious illness as one such “exodus” event:
Psalm 116 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The Lord protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
10 I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my consternation,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.
16 O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
As we think back on the times when we have been delivered from illness and despair, thanksgiving and praise to God flow from our lips. These memories might also give us the strength to face today’s challenges.
When I think of the ways You have saved and sustained me, I have to sing Your praises, Dear God. Let me remember these exodus events in my life, as I faithfully walk the path of discipleship behind my Lord and Savior, Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.