Precious Departure

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15

Sculptor Liz Shepherd’s 2018 exhibition The Wait was described by a Boston Globe correspondent as “evok[ing] the precious, exposed, and transcendent in life.” Inspired by the time Shepherd spent at her dying father’s bedside, the exhibition attempts to convey yearning, the emptiness of loss, and the fragile sense that loved ones are just out of reach.

The idea that death is precious might seem counterintuitive; however, the psalmist declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (Psalm 116:15). God treasures the death of His people, for in their passing He welcomes them home.

Who are these faithful servants (“saints” nkjv) of God? According to the psalmist, they are those who serve God in gratitude for His deliverance, who call on His name, and who honor the words they speak before Him (Psalm 116:16–18). Such actions represent deliberate choices to walk with God, accept the freedom He offers, and cultivate a relationship with Him.

In so doing, we find ourselves in the company of Jesus, who is “chosen by God and precious to him . . . . For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’ ” (1 Peter 2:4–6). When our trust is in God, our departure from this life is precious in His sight.

How does your perception of death compare with God’s view of the passing of His people? To what extent is your perception influenced by what the Bible says about death?
Dear God, help me to trust You even in the challenges and losses of life.

INSIGHT

We don’t know who penned this psalm, but we readily identify with the writer’s humanity. A life-threatening ordeal—perhaps some disease or an event in battle—had brought the author face to face with death and closer to God as a consequence. “The cords of death entangled me; the anguish of the grave came over me” (Psalm 116:3). This terror prompted the author to call on the Almighty: “Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save me!’ ” (v. 4). Yet ultimately, death isn’t to be feared. The most quoted section of the psalm is, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (v. 15). Might the motivation for this declaration have been the death of the writer’s God-fearing mother? For in the very next line the psalmist says, “I serve you just as my mother did” (v. 16).

Tim Gustafson

By |2020-03-26T16:32:20-04:00March 27th, 2020|