Precious in the Sight of the LORD

before we begin let’s invite the Holy Spirit to be with us most heavenly father we dist I’m of worship to your word and so we pray first father that you would give us hearts to receive what our minds here and we pray that your spirit would be our teacher we pray this in Jesus name Amen our scripture passage is from Psalm 116 hear the word of the Lord I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy because he inclined his ear to me therefore I will call on him as long as I live the snares of death encompassed me the pangs of shale laid hold of me I suffered distress and anguish then I called on the name of the Lord oh Lord I pray deliver my soul gracious is the Lord and righteous our God is merciful the Lord preserves the simple when I was brought low he saved me return on my soul to arrest for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you for you had 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 I believed even when I spoke I am greatly afflicted I said in my alarm all mankind or liars what shall i render to the Lord for all his benefits to me I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord i will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints Oh Lord I’m your servant I am your servant the son of your maidservant you have loosed my bonds I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name the Lord I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people in the courts of the house of the Lord in your midst of Jerusalem praise the Lord man shall not live by bread alone well this is one of many great Psalms it’s a psalm of great praise and thanksgiving to the lord for delivering the psalmist from death it’s impossible for us to know what it was he was about to die from perhaps it was a serious illness I can imagine as i read that psalm him laying on a bed wondering if he was about to take his last breath and he describes it this way he says the snares of death encompassed me the pangs of shield laid hold of me I suffered distress and anguish it’s as if the place of death shield had tentacles that reached up around the psalmist soul and began pulling him into that place of the death and as fever and pain went over his body without any other option he called out to his Lord and he said oh lord i pray deliver my soul he cries out to the lord save me from this he knew he was about to die death / taking his body his heart cries out to the Lord whatever means of remedy was available from the time of Moses to the time of David had been administered and found wanting he had no place to turn except to his Lord and so he called out o Lord I pray deliver me the Lord was faithful and the Lord was gracious and scripture says he dealt bountifully with the psalmist and when the psalmist was healed he said these words you have delivered my soul from death I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord I will offer to you the sacrifice of Thanksgiving praise the Lord many of you have experienced the Lord’s blessing through answered prayer I know that I have seen it in this church and heard testimony after testimony those who have had cat-scans that looked like Christmas trees and brilliance and over time with

treatment and prayer became clear those whose pain was suffering and debilitating and through prayer for relief experienced the loss of pain overnight but you know what we are all going to die we are all going to die the psalmist that roast this psalm died almost 3,000 years ago Moses died Abraham died David died even Lazarus who jesus commanded to come forth from the grave died have you ever thought about that poor Lazarus experienced twice what most people fear the most it hasn’t been that long since I held my father’s hand as he died in a hospital room at Our Lady of the lake hospital and it wasn’t long after that that my mother followed him after a long bout with heart failure I’m warned their deaths and I do miss them but I mourn no more we are all going to die so what’s the point what encouragement can we find in reading the praise of the psalmist who praised his Lord for saving him from death when he died anyway it’s happened to me many times as i know it’s happened to you as you have read scripture you’re reading a passage that’s familiar with you or perhaps unfamiliar and you understand what you’re reading it all seems to fit it corresponds with your understanding of the truth and who God is and then you read a passage or a verse that jumps off the page and WHAM you’re stopped in your tracks it takes you out of your rhythm it knocks your sensibilities it forces you to think and reason in a different way as you attempt to reconcile something that appears to be unreconciled and so you study scripture and you read to better understand it and to know what it says to you toward the end of this Psalm we have such a verse listen to God’s Word once again precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints we all heard about or read about the entire family that was killed apparently by a drunk driver several weeks ago the images of the twisted steel and shattered glass and broken bleeding bodies escapes us we push those images out of our mind they are far too ugly for us to entertain and it goes beyond reason for us to say that an event like that is precious to anyone the movie theater massacre in Colorado just this past week not one killed was over 31 years old we cannot look at that event and say that those deaths were precious to anyone there are those who are aging and alone even unable to come to church any longer those who fear dying alone those who fear being unnoticed unobserved a death unappreciated a death it would not be precious in any one site but there it is we read it and that’s what it says precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints how do we make sense of this how do we begin to even know how death could be precious to God before we go on let’s be sure we make note of what it does not say it does not say that dying is precious in the sight of the Lord the ravages of sin and illness and accident and disasters and abortion and stillbirths are not precious to God these are all evidences that this world is not as God originally created it to be God created and called it very good and what we see about us is not when God sees the ravages of sin they are most unpleasant to him and the dying part of death is abhorrent to him so what does the passage mean a good place to begin to understand this passage is to consider that there are several meanings

for the word precious in Hebrew the first one of those meanings for a precious is costly costly in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints have you ever thought of it this way that the death of God’s Saints is costly to him as the psalmist was approaching the precipice of death he cried out and God reached down in His grace and saved the psalmist from that impending death and it was costly did you know that between the National Park Service and the Coast Guard the federal government spends more than three hundred and eighty three million dollars to rescue boaters and bikers and campers and hikers and climbers salvation of any kind is costly it is a fact that each one of us will die the cords of death those snares that psalmist speaks of will entangle us the anguish of the grave will come upon just as it has everyone who has gone before and we would be locked away in death and shield that place of the dead were not for the price that was paid at Calvary and it was a costly price indeed one pastor has said that the cost to God to set us free from the prison of death is beyond our ability to calculate it is beyond our ability to understand Paul calls it a mystery the shortest verse in the Bible occurs in the story of Lazarus scripture tells us that when Mary and the Jews were weeping over Lazarus death that Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit and he was greatly troubled he goes on to say that standing before these mourners jesus wept why did Jesus weep was not Lazarus death precious to him perhaps he was weeping over the entire spectacle that was the embodiment of sin the wreckage of what was once perfect and good the Bible says by sin came death Christ knew that Lazarus would die a second time perhaps he was weeping because he knew that he would die again but could it be that Christ was weeping over the price that was to be paid for Lazarus resurrection was it possible that Christ was weeping over the price that would be paid for Lazarus ultimate resurrection and for Lazarus sin and for Lazarus everlasting life the cross was just days away no one knew Christ’s in her distress that he would sweat blood that he would be nailed to the cross separated from his father that he would take upon himself the sins of the world Lazarus resurrection would look like and seemed to Lazarus be a free gift of grace but it was not free it was very costly Jesus was going to die a horrific death to purchase that resurrection and the most horrific part was not the crucifixion as unimaginable as that alone would have been he was dreading the father’s wrath Jesus who had never known sin was about to become Lazarus sin he was about to become the sin of all who believed him all who would believe him so that in him all would find righteousness because Jesus sank deep into death and was raised up Lord of life the cords of death and she oh and the anguish of the grave have been broken forever they have been erased death scripture tells us is the last enemy to be destroyed precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints costly in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints there is a second meaning to the Hebrew word precious and that is highly valued highly valued in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints why would any one’s death be highly valued in the sight of God a Saints death means the end to the struggle it means the end to

the struggle with guilt and sin and evil death means no longer sinning against God and His commandments his desire for our lives God created us to live for him to obey Him and by our living glorify Him and to enjoy him forever a life of obedience glorifies God a life of perfect obedience magnifies the name of the Lord Jesus summed up God’s commandments by saying that we are to love the Lord God with all our soul our mind our heart and our strength we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves but in this life we fail at that we are unable to do that we are unable to complete God’s will perfectly we cannot love our neighbor perfectly nor can we love God with our whole person death puts an end to that and death we enter into the holiness of God and through the blood of Christ we no longer offend him we are able to live as he created us to live by loving him completely and perfectly with all of our heart we become the people he called us to be so that we might do the things he called us to do a Saints death also means that end to the ravages of sin morning sorrow cancer heart attack broken relationships character and perfections the mortality that comes with aging because of sin thousands are blind and deaf and handicapped and disfigured this all goes away with the death of his Saints in the Saints die they will appear before God would neither sin nor the effects of sin on their heart God’s people are finally able to perfectly worship Him and glorify Him in spirit and in truth and they will dwell in the house of the Lord forever highly valued in the sight of the Lord is the death of his things there is a third way to look at this verse it is in considering that the Creator God of the universe our Lord and our Savior is also our Father and I want you to think about that this way if your son or daughter we’re living in a foreign land subject to brutality the ravages of disease unspeakable crimes malnutrition starvation and continuous suffering upon their release and arrival home would you not gush forth with shouts of joy and hallelujah would you not view your son’s return as precious would you not view your daughter’s return as worthy of celebration scripture tells us that as many as received him to them he gave the right to become children of God when children of God die they go home that is why we are also called pilgrims and sojourners and strangers here on earth our home is in heaven when we die that is where we go scripture says to be absent from the body is to be present in the Lord that is why Saints death is precious to God his children come home to him there’s a story of a young boy named Charlie Charlie was terminally ill he did not know it he’d not been told how sick he was but he seemed to know one day he asked his mother mom what is it going to be like to die will it hurt his mother thought for a moment she searched for an answer and finally she said Charlie do you remember when you used to play with your friends outside all day long you’d come home and you’d be so tired that when we’d sit around and watch TV you would fall asleep on the couch well that wasn’t where you belonged but in the morning you’d always awake from your sleep and you were where you belonged in your own bed your dad carried you up the

stairs into your room and talk to you to your room when you were you belonged while you were asleep Charlie she continued I think that’s what death is like it’s like waking up some morning and finding ourselves in another room in the place where we belong in our home safe in the strong loving arms of our Father in heaven Charlie’s mom was right for those who are Saints death is going home and that is precious to God his Saints are his children before we close we cannot leave without asking some serious questions because every person here is going to die the time is coming when each of us will step from this lifetime into eternity and the questions are these will your death be precious in the sight of the Lord will your death be costly to God will your death be highly valued to God the reason I ask you this is that not every death is precious in the sight of our Lord not every death is costly to God and certainly not every death is highly valued to God our text this morning tells us that precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints what is the saint a saint is someone holy someone set apart someone who has been called into a new life in Jesus Christ someone who’s been washed clean of their sins by the blood of Christ on the cross something mother Teresa was a saint because she devoted her life to the untouchables the poor the orphaned and the starving in India many people think of Gandhi as a saint because he devoted his life to non-violence and peace but Mother Teresa and Gandhi were sinners just as we are and they do not deserve to be considered Saints because of what they have done we are called Saints by virtue of what Christ has done the Bible teaches us that a saint is someone who has bought at a price a costly price the life of the Son of God their deaths are costly to God Saints are people made holy by the blood of christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and they have been sought out by the Good Shepherd and they have heard his voice Jesus Christ who is the way the truth and the life has set them free from sin and they are set apart Saints have a death that is highly valued to God because the saint is one born of blood not of blood or the will of the flesh or the will of man but of God and they are God’s children and when God’s children come home he rejoices the death of a God’s children his Saints is precious in His sight I said earlier that I no longer mourn for my father and my mother this is why listen to the words of Paul in his letter to the church at Thessalonica and is from the message version and regarding the question friends that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried we don’t want you to be in the dark any longer first off you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to as if the grave were the last word since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints we will mourn when we lose our loved ones but we will not mourn as those who have no hope we know that they are where we will be and when we arrive where they are what a reunion it will be and we will live as those who have eternal perspective on all matters life and death while we are here because we are his children I’m mourn the dying of my mom and dad but that day of mourning was a day of rejoicing in their death because they were Saints saved by the grace of God and I will see them again clearly the question of the morning is not why the death of his Saints is precious to God but rather is

your death going to be precious to God at some point each of us will die we may not know yet the dying part of it but our death is the conclusion of life on this planet it is our point of departure as his Saints it is ours to say just like the Apostle Paul death has been swallowed up in victory where Oh death is your victory where Oh death is your sting thanks be to God he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ amen