Psalm 116.1-4,12-19 (https://www.biblegateway.com/ NRSVA)
People are beginning to ask, ‘What comes after lockdown?’ In a sense, whatever measures are taken to relax the lockdown will only be the beginning of the end. First, they’re likely to be cautious and incremental, with those most at risk encouraged to go on isolating themselves as far as possible from contact with the outside world. And then, they’re likely to be provisional. A second, and maybe even a third, wave of the pandemic is expected. Severe lockdown measures may need to be reimposed, perhaps in specific places where the number of cases of coronavirus has suddenly risen. Nonetheless, there’s a growing hope that - if the right steps are taken - we might be able to move on from the present paralysis in our economy and our social lives.
This is the place where we encounter the psalmist. He or she is getting over a serious illness. Things looked bad; it was a time of anguish and distress. ‘The snares of death encompassed me,’ the psalmist says. But the Lord heard the psalmist’s supplications.
Some people have seen this as a psalm about resurrection, or at least about life after death, because the psalmist goes on to say, ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.’ Undoubtedly the psalmist believes that God continues to care for us after we die, but verse 19 makes clear that the psalmist’s thanksgiving will be offered to God in the Temple at Jerusalem, not in heaven.
So, although the psalmist affirms that God has not forgotten those who lost their lives to this illness, the psalm is about life after lockdown, about second chances, about what recovery might look like. The Lord has loosed the psalmist’s bonds and the psalmist will ‘now call on the name of the Lord’ and says, ‘I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.’