Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15—NKJV)

I will be the first to admit that the word “precious” is not a manly sounding word. It rarely crosses the lips of any self-respecting male and with good reason. On one hand, preciousness is associated in the male mind with an emotional response on the part of the fairer sex, usually concerning things that are cute or sparkly. On the other hand, real preciousness is something that has to be carefully discovered. It is a term reserved for things of rarity and lofty value, purposely applied only to things of truly significant meaning. As a man knows, any frivolous or unthoughtful use of the term can quickly lead to a man losing his manly stature in the estimation of every real man and every real woman, therefore a guy will be quite sparing in his use of the word. Fortunately, that is the same way that God uses the word in the Bible, sparingly but with great meaning.

When God weighs a thing and declares it “precious” we had better take notice. This is the reason why the verse before us is so very thought-provoking. Death is not what we value unless there is some meaning that God sees and we need to grasp. The first thing to note is the fact that God is talking about people that are saints already at the time of their death. There is no evidence in the Bible of good, godly people being awarded some post-mortem elevation to the state of sainthood. Sprinkled throughout the Bible, the word is used to describe living believers on this side of eternity. How do they become saints? The same as everyone who becomes a child of God: by being saved by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. When a man is born again, he is judicially declared righteous in the presence of God the Father. He is set apart, sanctified for the Master’s use—in short, a saint of God. “Saintedness” is not the same as “saintliness.” Positional sanctification ought to be made practical sanctification through personal, faithful, daily obedience to the will of God. It is this distinguished group of individuals, those bought by the sinless blood of Jesus Christ, who gain notice in the sight of the Lord at the time of their passing.

Our word precious is applied to things that are costly, honorable, dear, rich, and esteemed. The fact that God applies the word to the home-going of his saints belies something about His thinking on the subject. First, God tells us that there is a major Problem with the redemption of your soul. Psalm 49:7–9 states, “None [of the wealthy] can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of their souls is costly [precious, too high], and it shall cease forever—that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit [grave].” How high is the cost to redeem a man’s soul and who alone is able to pay such a price? Our Lord declares in Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The Provider of redemption is none other than God Himself. Isaiah 28:16 states, “Therefore thus says the Lord God; ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily [more clearly, “be put to shame”].’” This verse is quoted in 1 Peter 2:6–7 and concluded with these words, “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious.”

Peter has already addressed the Plan of redemption in chapter 1:18–21, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith, and hope are in God.” The debt of your sin is costly, almost without measure. Almost, but not quite, because God’s Son paid your penalty in full and bought your freedom with His Own precious, irreplaceable blood.

In his second book, Peter identifies the Privilege of redemption. The first verse reads, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Every blood-bought saint has been granted the gracious “right to become children of God, to those who believe on His Name” (John 1:12–13). Revelation 21:11 speaks of the precious stones with which the New Jerusalem is adorned bringing to memory the beautiful Prophecy of redemption found in Malachi 3:16–18, “’They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’”

Why is the death of a saint precious in the sight of the Lord? Because it is a most significant day of exaltation for one who is the undeserving object of God’s gracious choosing, lavish sparing, almighty love, costly expense, doting attention, and, of course, the day of final claiming of His own for eternity! Meditate on 1 Peter 1:7–9. Trust and obey!