“I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplication.” Psalm 116:1
I love the Lord! That is the theme of the whole psalm. He will give us the reason for his love; he will tell us what he is going to do with that love, so that he ends in heaven itself where he will dwell in the courts of the Lord forevermore, but you are right when you write above the whole psalm: I love the Lord!
What mighty concept: I love the Lord!
Yes, the world also speaks of love.
Very learned men, especially in the field of psychology, tell us that love is the deepest urge in man, moving him irresistibly on. They say that behind all effort of men of all the ages you will find the love of man for his mate, his friend, his flesh and bone, his fatherland, humanity. And I can well believe it. Read the literature of all the ages, and you will come face to face at every page with the love of man.
But their love is not our love. Our love is the love of God! Therein lies all the difference in the world!
The love of God is pure and sweet; it is holy and just; it is wise and strong; faithful it is and true unto all eternity.
The love of God is God himself. God is his virtues. And so we sing: Unending is the love of God from age to age the same!
The love of the world, however, is ugly. It is so utterly ugly that God hates it, and the angels of God hide their pure faces from it.
The love of man ought to be the reflection of the love of God. But it is not. God is not in all their love.
And so we find a lot of filth in the world, masquerading under the sweet name of love. All human emotion should be nothing but the fruit of God’s emotion, reflecting the life of God. Everything apart from God is contraband. And you need no magnifying glasses to see the corruption which corrupts the love of the world.
How different is this psalmist: I love the Lord! That makes all the difference in the world. If you have the love of God in your heart you will find the sanctifying power of that love in all your other relationships. It will never stand in the way of the other avenues of love we spoke of above. Nay, but that love of God will hallow them.
I love the Lord!
It is the song of heaven unto all eternity.
I love the Lord!
Ah me, what shall I say of this holiest and most beautiful of all emotions?
It certainly means that all your heart is set on the Lord, that you esteem him as the Summum Bonum, the highest good. If the love of God dwells in your heart, if that heart is a sanctuary of the Lord, then you seek him with that heart, and you will find in him all your delight. Apart from him you long and thirst and naught can satisfy. You look then about you and say: all the streams are dry here below.
Conversely, you hate all that he hates, for he is your life. His enemies are your enemies, and you hate his enemies with a perfect hatred. And that is the reason why you hate your own life in the world, for that life is sinful. Even with the best of intentions, you live a sinful life. You begin in the morning with the best of intentions: I am going to walk in harmony with my God and his law. But when evening is there, you look upon the completed day, and you weep. Then you say with Paul: I do not know this day’s work! That is not the way I began this day. That is not the completed day as I saw it this morning in my plans. I saw before me a day that would be spent in his communion, to his praises and showing the fruits of his indwelling Spirit and truth. But this awful life which I led is terrible: I hate it! O wretched man that I am! For I do love the Lord! And it is for his sake that you end your day on the minor note of melancholy: Godly sorrow that worketh repentance.
Yes, I love the Lord!
And so I also love what he loves. His friends are my friends, and his interests are mine. I am wrapped up in what God loves. He has a cause in the midst of the world. Well, it is mine. He has a people, a city, a word, a day, a battle, a victory. I love them all, and I am immersed in all manner of endeavors that pertain to them.
And he has a son: it is Jesus Christ the Lord.
Well, I love him, for he is the very face of the God whom I love. I cling to that Son, for he is the most wonderful revelation of the God whom I love. I know, I know, that God reveals himself in all the works of his hands, and I know also that wherever the Lord showed himself there was a song of adoration because of his wondrous works. But this Son is the crown of all the works of Jehovah, and all the other works of God point to this Son of his right hand.
That Son of God reveals to me the love of God such as no tree or flower ever did. He shows me the very heart of his heart. From afar I have heard people argue about the comprehensibility of God and divine revelation. There are some who say that there are depths of God which we will never see. Maybe so. But I am persuaded that the child of God has seen his inmost heart when Jesus cried out on the cruel cross of Calvary. And the holy apostle Paul set us to measuring the “breadth, and lengthy and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Yes, that text would be in Ephesians, the profound epistle. It fits there.
If you would hear the heartbeat of the love of God, I would suggest you stand at the foot of the cross of that Son, and you will hear it, and its rhythm is unspeakably sweet. There is a melody which is called the Son of God: his song in the night!
In the world they save the most beautiful melodies on long-playing records; they are stored away for other generations to feast on. Well, God has stored away the song in the awful night, and you shall hear of that song of the love of God unto all eternity. Heaven is severely theological. It shall be filled with the rendering of all God’s wonderful works.
Do you know the name of God’s conveyance which he uses to bring you his love? Paul tells you; it is the Holy Ghost. And now note: when that Holy Ghost was poured out in the church on Pentecost, they did nothing but speak of the wonderful works of God. And the climax of all those works is God’s crucifixion of that wonderful Son of God.
For you and for me!
I love the Lord!
I love the Lord!
But why? Listen to the unknown psalmist who sings his songs of love in heaven at this moment of writing; he will tell you. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
The psalmist had called upon the name of the Lord: he had prayed to God.
There is another one of these mighty concepts: a man that will direct his voice to heaven and to heaven’s God. What a mighty concept! It is one of the mightiest miracles that can happen to man. It beggars description. Imagine: a man calls upon the name of the Lord!
You say: what is so mighty about that?
And my answer is: it is easier for a great and high mountain to lift itself and to wing its way to the depths of the ocean, than that a man will ever think of calling upon the name of the Lord. And that is no hyperbole. That is the truth. Man is dead. Man is an enemy of God: he hates God with every breath he takes. He hates him to his dying day. With his last breath he breathes defiance to God.
When natural man tastes anything that smacks of God and the things of God, he becomes thoroughly nauseated. When he hears the voice of God calling him, he will turn around and he will fling into the teeth of God: Depart from me: I have no pleasure in thy ways.
But this poor man cried, and God answered him.
I love the Lord, says the unknown singer, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Yes, the miracle of grace happened to this poor man. God had visited him in his inward parts. God had visited him in the very depths of his heart. And there in those depths, the Lord had taken away his stony heart-core, and substituted a heart of flesh. He did so by his almighty grace and Holy Spirit. And that operation is tantamount to saying that God made that heart his dwelling place.
And since that time the Lord placed him in the way of his covenant, with its attending preaching and teaching and constant testimony of his glorious and precious word.
That word made this poor man wise unto salvation.
And the wisdom of God which dwelled in him caused him to turn to God in all his distresses.
If you will take the time to read Psalm 116 you will note that this poor man was in great distress. It is also plain from the text which we quoted: and my supplications.
It is one thing to speak to God, to pray to him in your normal (!) communion with God. It is another thing when that speaking becomes crying, and when your cry becomes supplication. Supplication and prayer are the same thing, except that the former is prayer intensified. When your prayer becomes supplication you are in dire straits.
Then he prayed to God, and his prayer became supplication.
And God heard.
Hence, his love to God.
I love the Lord!
For He has heard my voice!
And my supplications!
Oh yes, I love the Lord!
For in my terrible straits I called upon him!
And he heard me!
You ask: what was the trouble of this poor and needy man?
He will tell you. The answer you may find in the whole psalm, although there is an indication in the text itself. You do not use the intensive mood of prayer for just any need. The need must be very urgent before you supplicate.
And I would ask you: what is the greatest need a man has? What misery in this vale of tears brings you its bitterest pangs?
You are so right: it is sin and its attending feeling of guilt.
I've often said: if you want to know what hell is like, you must ask the child of the living God. He will tell you what it is like to have God angry with you. The feeling of guilt is the experience of what God thinks of me. His displeasure of my ways he tells me in my heart. And the experience is very bitter.
Go to verse 3 and you will find its expression in words that you can understand: the sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me!
Go to verse 4: O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul!
And to verse 8: For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, my feet from falling!
It tells the whole story: This man was visited by the omniscient God, and this God had told him first what an abominable sinner he was. And the Lord had taught him what was the usual, the common, the natural, the just recompense for sin, and the reward for guilt.
Do you know what it is?
It is hell!
And hell is an angry God staring at you.
God makes hell the awful place it is. In his love there is life, but in his wrath there is hell-fire.
Ask God's child: he will tell you. For he knows by experience.
But God also gave this poor and needy man the wisdom to plead upon the sure ground of his everlasting mercy: God taught him to pray and to pour out his supplications before the throne of that mercy.
And so God heard his voice and his supplication.
And hearing he forgave.
And forgiving, he justified this man. And justifying him, he gave him long life, and life eternal.
And he began to sing: I love the Lord, because he heard my voice and my supplication.
Oh yes, he loved the Lord!
I love the Lord!
How severely personal!
Yes, your father and your mother may be dear children of God. It does not help you really, personally. Our fathers always said about this: grace is no heritage from father to son.
Yes, you may have been baptized, and foolish people may have given you an idea that there was something in the mere fact that you were baptized. Esau was circumcised: whenever he thinks of it right now, his cries are doubled, and his sorrows increase.
Yes, you may have heard the voice of the Lord from your very infancy, and your pastors may have been of the excellent and of the good. But it helps you not one wit: you, you, you must speak to God, you must pray to him, and you must pour out your supplications.
And you will when visited by the dayspring from on high.
There is a song: Since Jesus came into my heart! That is eternally correct: Jesus does visit the hearts of certain men, women and children.
Some, but not all.
And if he does, that man, woman or child will know it. Oh, but they will know it. Then he tells them what he thinks of them as they are by nature. He gives them eyes of the heart to see the blackness and the damn worthiness of their sin and guilt.
Then they cry to God.
And then he hears, and they love him for aye!
This meditation was written by Rev. Gerrit Vos in May 1, 1951 issue of the Standard Bearer.