Psalm 116:3-4 - The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the Name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!"
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). On the night He was betrayed, Jesus and His disciples finished their Passover meal and sang a hymn before they continued on to Gethsemane. The hymn may have been part of the Hallel, Psalms 113 to 118, sung during the Passover celebration. So perhaps, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus sang these prophetic words, "The snares of death encompassed Me, the pangs of Sheol laid hold on Me; I suffered distress and anguish."
Tangled in the snares of approaching death, with Sheol, the place of the dead, awaiting Him, Jesus suffered distress and anguish. He said to His disciples, "My soul is very sorrowful even to death" (Matthew 26:38b). With His sweat falling to the ground like great drops of blood, Jesus cried out in prayer to His Father. He called on God to deliver Him, asking that the cup of suffering might pass from Him, the terrible cup of God's wrath against human sin. Yet, obedient to His Father, Jesus also prayed, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39b).
Jesus' prayer was answered according to the Father's will. The hour had come. Jesus' betrayer arrived, and the Savior was handed over into the hands of His enemies. The next morning, on the day we call Good Friday, Jesus was nailed to the cross. Bearing our sins in His own body, He drained to the end the cup of suffering, the cup of God's anger and judgment. The Son of God suffered the penalty of death to save us.
The psalm Jesus had sung just a few hours earlier held words of anguish; it also foretold what would follow the terrible suffering of the cross. Before His crucifixion, Jesus sang out these words of trust and hope: "You have delivered My soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 116:8-9). On the first Easter morning, the Son of God was delivered from death and the grave—and through faith in His Name, we are delivered from the snares of sin and death, too.
When we suffer distress and anguish, struggling against fear, pandemic, death, and loss, the prayer of the psalm is our prayer and its words of hope are ours: "O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!" God hears our prayers and, according to His will and perfect timing, He will deliver us. When our crucified and risen Savior returns in glory, we will be raised from death and the grave, as He was raised. On that great day, we will walk forever in the land of the living and our living Lord will walk with us!
THE PRAYER: Mighty risen Lord, You suffered in distress and anguish to deliver us from sin and death. Walk with us now when we are in distress and deliver us according to Your gracious will. We look forward to the day when we will walk with You in glory. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. Have you ever faced something truly distasteful (maybe even painful) with plenty of time to think about it before hand?
2. How do you find the strength to "get the job done" when necessary?
3. Does Jesus' victory over life's greatest woes give you hope and courage when you're down?
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