Read Psalm 116:1-19
“What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me” (v. 12)?
It’s a good question that deserves a thoughtful response. Anything you might choose to give in return for the Lord’s goodness will be inadequate in the sense that it will pale in comparison to His generosity towards you.
Even the motive with which you give should be one of gratitude and thanksgiving for a “no strings attached” gift from His grace. It isn’t one of compensation or repayment for His help.
The psalmist seemed to understand those cautions well. He had experienced God’s incredible provision. In a time of desperation, he had called out to God, and God answered him (vv. 1, 2). At a point when death seemed certain, the Lord had rescued him (vv. 3, 4, 8, 9). By the grace of God, the author’s affliction, anguish, alarm, and tears were gone (vv. 8, 10, 11).
Have you experienced that kind of deliverance in your life? When have you experienced that kind of gracious, divine intervention in your life situations?
So what can you do in response? Though nothing is adequate, you can amp up your love (v. 1). Even though any reply will fall short, you can amplify your expressions of gratitude (vv. 13, 17). And, while anything you might give will seem meager in comparison with the full measure of His grace, you can “fulfill your vow” (vv. 14, 18).
This vow could have been a promise made before the rescue, in the desperation of the moment. Have you ever made one of those? Perhaps it went something like this, “God, if you rescue me from this, I will __________!” Those kinds of promises shouldn’t be made flippantly. Did you ever make a statement like that? Did you experience God’s rescue? Did you follow through with your vow? The writer of Psalm 116 had every intention of following through.
Meanwhile, this vow could have also been a long contemplated, after-the-rescue promise. Rather than an “if you” statement, it could have been a “because you” promise. He could have prayerfully considered, “After having experienced God’s goodness, what shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” After coming up with an answer, he joyfully looked forward to completing his vow.
What will you return to the Lord for all his goodness to you?