Call upon the name of the Lord

psalm 116_1-2

From Psalm 116:1-2 in the Message Bible comes the Verse of the Day for August 24, 2016:

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him. Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels. Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn; then I called out to God for help: “Please, God!” I cried out. “Save my life!” God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

The verses are rendered this way in the King James Version:

Psalm 116:1-2:

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

The Psalmist acknowledges his love for the Lord who heard him when called upon His name. Because the Lord “inclined his ear unto” the one who called upon Him, the caller will continue to call as long as he lives.

 

Verse 4 reiterates the same point:

Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

 

Echoes of these verses can be heard in this excerpt from “Plainsong,” a poem that I wrote in tribute to my father:

 

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

The poem also makes reference to one of the vintage hymns composed by the great 18th Century hymn writer, Dr. Isaac Watts, who uses Psalm 116:1  as the inspiration for  “I love the Lord; He heard my cries” with this opening stanza:

I love the Lord; he heard my cries,
And pitied every groan:
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to his throne.

The hymns of Dr. Watts found their way into African American churches, being transformed into chants and acapella songs that formed the foundation of 20th Century gospel music. Listen to Gloria Henderson who leads a congregation in lining out this classic hymn by Dr. Watts.

In addition to Psalm 116:1, other verses also remind us to call upon the name of the Lord:

1 Chronicles 16:8

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

 

Psalm 105:1

O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

 

Romans 10:13 so clearly makes known the results occurring to those who petition the Lord:

 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Throughout the Scriptures we see that believers are encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. Note this invitation extended in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV):

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

 

One of the most often quotes passages from Jeremiah relates a promise given by God to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11-13, a passage that applies to Christians today as well:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

Psalm 107 reveals the seemingly never-ending cycle whereby the people of God stray from the pathways of God and find themselves in difficult straights, and as verses, 6, 13, 19, and 28 make known:

 

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

 

Despite the truth that God consistently delivers those who cry out to him, His people too often fall back into trouble whereby they once again call upon the Lord in the midst of their struggles.  Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere in the Scriptures we see that our faithful God responds to those who call upon Him.

 

Jim and Ginger Hendricks provide a moving musical exhortation: “Call unto Me”

 

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