For God, who said [He spoke], "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [human weakness, but not sin is in view] that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus [death to self], that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body [raised up with Him]. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake [we suffer], that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
The suffering of the world shows us over and over that we are not of it, and that our only life is in Christ.
So death works in us [we don’t live for self or the world], but life in you [and all others we serve as Christ would]. 13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," [In suffering we had to believe God’s words; PSA 116:10] we also believe, therefore also we speak; 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul quotes Psa 116, and in this psalm we find the lesson that Paul is here trying to press home in us. Our suffering in this world is to drive us toward seeing where our life really is, and in seeing it, we must serve others, and in so doing, we will be like God and hopefully they will see like we do, but even if they don’t, we must live for heaven and not earth, for that alone is our life now.
I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death encompassed me,
And the terrors of Sheol came upon me;
I found distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
"O Lord, I beseech Thee, save my life!"
His only hope in life-threatening peril was the “name of the Lord.” Name - reputation, character, ability.
Now there is a dramatic shift in the psalm from the terrifying to the glorious nature of the Lord. This indicates just how quickly the believer can move from terror when viewing his circumstance to peace when his faith in the Lord fills his soul.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
6 The Lord preserves the simple [pethiy = young and naïve];
I was brought low, and He saved me.
“simple” - pethiy = young and naïve. Not meant as foolish but as weak, simple, gullible, helpless, and inexperienced. (earthen vessel)
7 Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For Thou hast rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.
9 I shall walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
The purpose of God’s deliverance: “that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” = a life of close harmony and careful obedience.
“I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.”
10 I believed when I said,
"I am greatly afflicted."
11 I said in my alarm,
"All men are liars."
In his alarm (distress) his focus was on the liars around him, but then he held to his faith, “I believed”
So death works in us [we don’t live for self or the world], but life in you [and all others we serve as Christ would]. 13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," [In suffering we had to believe God’s words; PSA 116:10] we also believe, therefore also we speak; 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard."
I personally think that Paul had the entire psalm in mind. By following God fully, he has put himself at the mercy of the world and its wickedness and wicked people, and yet his faith was in the Lord for everything. Paul understood that such faith and suffering was not for him alone, but for all believers.
12 What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me? [rhetorical: nothing]
[The contrast between men and God is striking as he moves from vs. 11 to 12]
13 I shall lift up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I shall pay my vows to the Lord,
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people [may I serve others with this revelation! (as Paul states in 2Co 4)].
“lift up the cup of salvation” - likely a libation offering of wine. Vows were voluntarily made. Offering to God out of thankfulness.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His godly ones [the end of their striving on the earth].