PSALM 116 continued...
"O Lord, surely I am Your servant,
I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid,
You have loosed my bonds."
I have a voracious appetite for reading, but my favorite is historical fiction, especially ones based on American history. If it is a story about indentured servants, I am hooked. As I have studied my ancestry, I have found that in many cases indentured servants were not far different from actual slaves. The terms of the agreed upon service could be easily manipulated into ongoing bonds with no freedom in sight. This could include something like bearing a child. Such a one's indentured status could then be lengthend and the children conceived during one's indentured servanthood would likewise become indentured. Those bound as such could easily be oppressed and abused by a cruel master.
I have found one relative however, who was indentured to be the teacher for a family on the Mayflower, but the master died in passage. This servant because of his education became a signer of the Mayflower Compact and an important person in the colony. This relative was the son of a merchant, but their family factory burned, and he fell on hard times in England. Thus he chose to become indentured. Because it was so hard to scratch a living, some say that more Irish than Africans became enslaved in this process in the colonization of America. Also prisons and brothels were emptied and sent as indentured to populate the colonies and do the hard work to make it successful. Poverty, crime, and ill repute made this indentured class disrespected as a whole.
Many willingly became indentured for the price of passage to the new world, America. For most though, once arrived, they would be sold to the highest bidder unless it was already pre-arranged who purchased their labor. They were in bondage but holding onto a hope of a better life.
This passage is describing one who willingly enters into the service of the best kind of master. This master, so to speak, has paid for their passage so they could enter into a new life of hope. This servant has chosen to remain with his master even though offered freedom because of great devotion.
I want to pause here for just a moment. Did you catch that? The servant was offered the freedom of choice. He chose to serve in love. There is no true love without choice. God always gives people choice. Sadly, many choose to stay in bondage to sin.
In the Jewish law was written the practice of the year of Jubilee: after seven years, the servants or slaves were set free. Even someone who purchased the land from one of his Jewish brethren had to return that land in the year of Jubilee. But here the servant stayed.
"I am thy servant." "Thou hast preserved me alive. I live with, for, and to Thee. I am thy willing domestic, --the son of thine handmaid;--like one born in Thy house of a woman already Thy property. I am a servant, son of a servant, made free by Thy kindness: but, refusing to go out, I have had my ear bored to thy door-post, and to continue by free choice in Thy house for ever. He alludes here to the case of the servant, who in the year of Jubilee, being entitled to his liberty, refused to leave his master's house; and suffered his ear to be bored to the door-post, as a proof that by his own consent he agreed to continue in his master's house for ever." (Adam Clarke)
Matthew Henry responds to this passage, "O Lord! truly I am thy servant," and says, "I choose to be so...David was a king, and yet he glories in this, that he was God's servant. Two ways men came to be servants:--First, By birth. 'Lord, I was born in thy house: I am the son of thy handmaid, and therefore thine.' Secondly, By redemption. He that procured the release of a captive took him for his servant, 'Lord, thou hast loosed my bonds; and therefore I am thy servant, and entitled to thy protection as well as obliged to thy work.' The very bonds which thou hast loosed shall tie me faster unto thee."
Here are the words of this wonderful master whom we choose to serve...
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
God is all about breaking chains and setting prisoners free from bondage. However, once freed, we may choose to serve and follow Him in love.
If you've ever adopted a dog from the dog pound, you might experience this kind of devotion. Once when we adopted a cocker spaniel we named Girl. She followed me everywhere. I could not take a step that the dog did not follow me. She was so ecstatic to be free that she was heeled to my heel. Yeah, that kind of servant, that kind of loyalty to our Master.
"I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and will call upon the name of the Lord
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people,
In the courts of the Lord's house in the midst of thee O Jerusalem.
Praise ye the Lord."
"'Thou hast loosed my bonds.' Taken from my neck the bonds of fear; thou hast made me Thy servant through love." Thus the rejoicing in the keeping of his vows in public worship. "He who neglects public worship, is not very likely to keep up private devotions either in his family or in his closet." (Adam Clarke)
This is the response, the sacrifice of thanksgiving for the adoption of the servant into the household of the master. For indeed from a New Testament perspective, we have not only been a servant, but have been offered adoption into the very family of God, an heir of God.
"Now I say, as long as the heir is a child,
he does not differ at all from a slave
although he is owner of everything
but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.
So also we, while we were children,
were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent for His Son,
born of a woman, born under the Law,
so that He might redeem those who were under the Law,
that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Because you are sons, God has sent forth
Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;
and if a son, then an heir through God.
You better get your worship on!!!