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Psalm 16

Psalm 16 Summary

Protection and Blessings in Life and After Death

Theme

David so focuses his life on the LORD that he experiences great confidence and joy in his present life, and is sure that the LORD will give pleasures after death—forever.

Summary

David, under some kind of attack, asks God to protect him. He then immediately confesses his loyalty to and dependence on the LORD and acknowledges that his good is always from the LORD’S presence and ability. While under pressure he delights in the righteous Israelites and avoids those who left the LORD. The LORD is his lot in life. This brings blessings and purpose to him. David blesses the LORD for his counsel and meditates on the LORD who is his authority and strength. This keeps him faithful and strong. He rejoices because he knows he will not die then. The LORD will show him how to live and David will experience full joy both in the present life and his joy will continue after he dies.

Summary Outline

  1. Psalm 16.1-4. David asks God to guard him in life, states his loyalty and dependence on the Lord, declares that his welfare or good is not outside of the LORD, and delights in his fellow godly ones, while those who refuse the Lord will have sorrows, and David will not fellowship with them.
  2. Psalm 16.5-6. The LORD himself is David’s guaranteed inheritance and cup, and so the LORD is the source for his life and his destiny, and therefore David experiences the LORD’S blessings.
  3. Psalm 16.7-8. David blesses the LORD, thinks about him, and keeps him in the center of his consciousness with the result that he will not totter or fall in his confidence.
  4. Psalm 16.9-11. David now rejoices because he knows he is secure. He will not die now, and when he does die the grave is not the end. David will continue in the presence of the LORD in life and death. Both conditions have for him fullness of joy and pleasures.

Verse Summary

  1. Psalm 16.1-4. David asks God to guard him in life, states his loyalty and dependence on the Lord, declares that his welfare or good is not outside of the LORD, and delights in his fellow godly ones, while those who refuse the Lord will have sorrows, and David will not fellowship with them.
    1. Psalm 16.1. David asks God to preserve or guard him. He is in a life threatening situation. The verb is an imperative indicating David’s plea. The second part indicates that David is at the time seeking refuge or shelter and protection in the person of God. See 2 Samuel 22.3,31 which is in David’s psalm to God when he delivered him from Saul. The believer’s deliverance when in trouble comes from the God. Also Psalm 31.23-24; 37.
    2. Psalm 16.2. Note how David quickly turns from the trouble to the only person who can help, the LORD who is his Lord. David has no good outside of, apart from, or beyond God’s ability. We have David’s statement of faith, his confession of loyalty and confidence in God. In verse 1 David appeals to God (EL). In verse 2 he addresses him by his name, LORD (Yahweh) and Lord (Adonai which indicates master, lord of all). Psalm 97.5 shows the distinction by the use both words. God is both LORD and Lord. David’s welfare is not beyond God—God is always capable. We learn that David has a good relationship with the LORD, that David accepts God’s authority in his life, and that he knows God is the source of his welfare. It is true that God is good.
    3. Psalm 16.3. The saints are the righteousness Israelites, the קָדוֹשׁ plural qedoshim, the separate, sacred, saints. These are the noble people, the leaders. David likes to associate with them. He does name them. We all have believers who we can fellowship with and enjoy. They become the human support and spiritual examples in difficult times.
    4. Psalm 16.4. What about those who have left God and taken after other gods. David avoids them. These could be fellow believers who have departed from the God of Israel or pagans in Israel. They covet things, not God (Ephesians 5.5). Do they benefit from their turning away from the Lord of all the earthj? No, sorrows, hurt, and injury will be multiplied to them. They have bartered or exchanged the one true God for false gods, even physical idols (the verb is difficult but probably means to “obtain by paying a purchase price” Ross Psalms Vol 1, 404). David will not participate with them in the pagan religions practices. This warns us to not allow pagan people and ideas to influence our relationship with God and our thinking. Avoid syncreticism. See Psalm 73.25-28 for similar comments.
  2. Psalm 16.5-6. The LORD himself is David’s guaranteed inheritance (his supply for life) and cup (his purpose and destiny), and therefore David experiences the LORD’S blessings.
    1. Psalm 16.5. The LORD, Yahweh, is both the source and support of David’s life. The portion refers to his inheritance “my allotted heritage.” The Levites were not given land in the distribution of Canaan (Numbers 18.20-24). Instead of land which would supply the people what they needed, the Lord was their supply. God was their possession, and so they had an unfailing source for supplies.  Cup in Scripture often refers to one’s destiny or task in life. See Psalm 11.6 for the bad sense and Psalm 23.5 for the good sense. See Matthew 26.39 where Jesus speaks of the cup he must drink. The LORD makes his future secure, “you support my lot.”
    2. Psalm 16.6. David surveys his land—he looks over his material and spiritual heritage and sees how beautiful they are. He recognizes God’s blessings to him. God has provided both spiritual blessings to us and material blessing. Do we ever stand back and say like David, “my heritage is beautiful to me”? We often do not know them if we do not look with expectation.
  3. Psalm 16.7-8. David blesses the LORD, thinks about him, and keeps him in the center of his consciousness with the result that his confidence will not totter or fall.
    1. Psalm 16.7. David now breaks into praise to the LORD. Bless is the verb barak. It means to praise God so to make his name and works known. The LORD is the one who counseled David. Counsel יָעַץ  ya’atz, means to advise, counsel, plan, decide. The LORD counsels him and in the night David thinks and gains instruction. Mind is the word for kidneys כִּלְיָה kilyah, which is the mind working with conscience, the seat of his moral character. It is the inner most sensitive part of man. At night, when life is most quiet, David meditates on the LORD and his instructions.
    2. Psalm 16.8. David focuses on the LORD throughout both the day and night. He knows the LORD and follows him. The LORD is David’s inheritance, his place and job in life, and his counselor. The right hand is the symbol for strength, support, and honor. The shield of a soldier is in the left hand and the weapon is in the right hand. Therefore the right side needs protection. The Lord is there. This gives him confidence and security because the LORD is his shield. He will not be shaken (מוט mot means to totter, shake, slip, stagger).
  4. Psalm 16.9-11. David now rejoices because he knows he is secure. He will not die now, and when he does die the grave is not the end. David will continue in the presence of the LORD in life and death. Both conditions have for him fullness of joy and pleasures.
    1. Psalm 16.9. This is David’s praise response. His heart is glad and his glory or honor (refers to his whole person blessed by God) rejoices. Any discouragement that might have been there is gone. He knows that he will not be killed. He will live. His flesh dwelling securely refers to staying alive physically.
    2. Psalm 16.10. This verse continues and poetically supports the fact that he will continue to live. Sheol שְׁאוֹל and the grave שַׁ֫חַת (shachat means pit) refer to death. The LXX has διαφθορά, the condition of decay, corruption, which is what happens in the grave.  The LORD will not abandon him to sheol nor will he let David see the pit. He will not die at this time of danger. David is Yahweh’s holy one (חָסִיד chasid for pious, holy). This refers to his relationship with the LORD. He is beloved by the LORD. David is part of the covenant people.
    3. David knew that God would deliver him from death at that time, though he would die later. Both Peter (Acts 2.27-31), Paul (Acts 13.35-38), refer to Psalm 16.10 and through inspired application (ISPA) apply the words to Jesus. For David this verse meant that God would postpone his death. For Jesus, Peter and Paul meant that God would resurrect him out of death.
    4. Psalm 16.11. David is confident that the LORD will reveal life to him, now and in the future. Fullness of joy comes with fellowship with God. Note the phrase “in your presence.” The right hand is also in verse 8. There the LORD is at David’s right hand which provides protection. In verse 11 the LORD’S right hand with his authority, strength, and honor hold or provide divine pleasures (delightful, agreeable, lovely). “Forever” in context seems to mean that these pleasure due to fellowship with God do not end with death but continue on (נֵ֫צַח netsach, enduring, everlasting; many times in Psalms, see Psalm 49.10; 68.17; 103.9).

So What?

  1. Trust the Refuge. Our best and unfailing refuge and welfare is Yahweh Lord God. Nothing is beyond his ability (Psalm 16.1-2). He is better than family, friends, coworkers, or anyone.
  2. Godly believers (saints) give the best human support, happiness, and spiritual example (Psalm 16.3).
  3. Apostasy. Those who have rejected God have made a bad trade. Their thinking and lifestyle can be catching, so do not to make them close associates. (Psalm 16.4; Psalm 1).
  4. LORD is our good. The LORD is our provision, our good, our purpose, our support, our counsel, our authority, our protection, and our joy in life (Psalm 16.5-6). Do we instead try to find these in people and things?
  5. Meditating on the LORD prevents us from a tottering faith and will allow spiritual instruction and counsel (Psalm 16.7-9).
  6. Strong faith. Believers need to develop a strong faith in God, in his faithfulness, and in his goodness. Our strong faith pleases God. Faith in the right object gives us assurance of what is real. God and his word to us are real (Psalm 16.2, 5-11; Hebrews 12.1).
  7. Future hope. Both Peter (Acts 2.25-28, 31) and Paul (Acts 13.35-37) apply this Psalm, by inspired application, to Jesus. He defeated physical death. Because Jesus arose from physical death we shall also be resurrected. Physical death cannot hold us (Psalm 16.10-11; John 11.25; 14.19; 1 Corinthians 15.1-23).