This Week's Focus Passage

Psalm 116:15 ‘Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints.’

Psalm 116:15 ‘Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints.’ 

David has, in his songs and prayers that have been recorded and preserved in the book of Psalms, made frequent references to death, both the death of the righteous as well as the death of the unrighteous. Most notable of the latter, perhaps, is found in the 49th psalm, in the provocative language of the 13th and 14th verses, where the end of those who are not saints of God through His regenerating grace bestowed upon them through the work of God, the Holy Spirit, but are rather among the unrighteous . Give serious and thoughtful attention to what has been written at the guidance of the Holy Spirit Himself. Of these unregenerate, it is said:

This their way is their folly: Yet after them men approve their sayings. They are appointed as a flock for Sheol [the grave]; Death shall be their shepherd: And the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be for Sheol to consume, That there be no habitation for it.

Whatever beauty they, or others, imagined that they had in this life, Sheol, or the grave will consume it, or eat it away. Death has been appointed to be their shepherd.

This shepherd will lead them into their grave; that is the office of Death for them. Contrariwise, David has beautifully expressed his hope in the grand and beautiful language of his well-known 23rd psalm which deserved to be fully cited.

Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul: He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever.

Those that are saints through the grace of our God are able, with David, to walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fearing any evil. Those outside the grace of God through the blood of Jesus Christ have every reason to fear walking through that valley. Rather than being the conduit to eternal life and eternal bliss, it is the doorway to eternal misery. The only option available that would avoid such a conclusion is that heresy of universal salvation whereby none are cast into hell. This understanding may seem to many to be the compassionate pathway, but it is, in the language of Scripture, the broad way that leads to destruction. Such teaching may give some present comfort to some, even many, but it will only be for the present.

The psalmist has here in our focus passage declared that the death of the saints of Jehovah is precious in the sight of our God. How may this be considered? What is death? Is it not the final curtain, as some might say, to the story of life? In the case of a believer, is it not the realized goal of life? Paul has said of himself, when speaking of life and death, and which of the two is the better, in Philippians 1:23-24; how shall I choose between them? he wrote;

But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake.

Paul asserts clearly, as he wrote in verse 21, that ‘For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ And yet here now he states that to die, or depart, is to be with Christ. He more that suggests that not dying is to abide in the flesh. He is teaching, is he not, that whether the believer lives or dies, he is Christ’s? Yea, has Paul not also taught us, when writing to the church at Corinth, and in 3:21-23, where we are being instructed, to let no one glory in men:

For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

If then, we are Christ’s, it is only because the Father has given us to Him from before the foundation of the world. He has given us to Him that, in the fullness of time, He should redeem us to Himself, or purchase us back unto Himself, through the blood of the cross, that He might present us to the Father.

Death, for the sinner that is in Christ, is the end of sin for that saved sinner. In the presence of His Lord and Savior, he awaits the consummation of all things:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.—1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.

Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints. How is it that the death of His saints is found to be so precious? Is it not largely because of the death of His Son; that death that procured the eternal life of those for whom He died? How precious is the death of His Son? How precious is that blood that ratified the precious covenant? Knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or with gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.—1 Peter 1:19-20.

Do we not judge the value of things by what they cost us to obtain? And should we not realize from what it cost our Father in heaven to obtain our salvation; even the precious blood of His Son, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, that we are precious purchases in His sight. Because our salvation required the death of His darling Son, so then shall our deaths be precious in His sight. 

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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