“I said in my alarm”

We come across this phrase in today’s Psalm 116:11. It is an encouraging Psalm, it starts, “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live”.

Yet there are times when we struggle to call on God, we seem to be overwhelmed by events. The same happened to David, who is almost certainly the writer of this Psalm. We read in verse 6, “When I was brought low, he saved me. Return O my soul to your rest, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you”.

David talks to himself, telling himself to rest upon the Lord, to remember all the times God has dealt bountifully with him. Count your blessings, we say – and sometimes sing. Then we come to verse 11, “I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’”. Does that seem an odd thing to be alarmed about? We think he means that he cannot trust anyone. He could not trust his own brothers, remember what they said to him when he came to the army camp when Goliath was challenging Israel (1 Samuel 17:28)? Saul’s son Jonathan was his closest friend; do you remember how he lamented when Jonathan was killed in battle?

Last week we read in Corinthians of the frictions between members, some were even taking each other to court: “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud – even your own brothers! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:7-9). No, they were blind to that fact! We must not be similarly blind.

Remember how the Psalm started? “I love the LORD …” If we can say that with all our heart, then we will not be alarmed and distressed by those around us who do not do the same – and who show they are not doing it by their words, their lies. Have a look at what David says after lamenting that all men are liars – in particular meditate on what “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” means in practice (verse 17).