Psalm 16 Commentary
This psalm is flowing smoothly until David makes an outrageous claim. He declares that the LORD will not allow him to experience decay. He is a holy man.
But David is mortal and not immortal. Who didn’t know that? Probably this psalm wasn’t the greatest in its day. How do you relate to this kind of prayer? The New Testament has a very different view, though. The psalm remains but not the psalmist. The subject of this psalm is not David but his own son whom he shadowed.
It is an important messianic psalm talking about the only holy man to ever exist.
Jesus Christ is a true son of David. It’s like this family is full of outrageous statements. Here is another one: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11 verse 25. If psalm 16 is talking about the resurrection of David’s most important son, then Jesus is talking about the resurrection of God’s most important sons and daughters.
And why not? He begins by making them holy. “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2 verse 11. They are family.
David’s psalm, therefore, has more importance today than it did back in its day.
From this angle, we can read it again and enjoy the amazing revelations. Firstly: take refuge in God and then pray for protection. Let not God be an ATM for quick solutions or personal gratifications. Let there be a relationship as amply explained in Hebrews 2 verse 12: “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” The LORD Jesus Christ becomes family. And let there be no good thing outside this family!
Who are your best friends? Are they part of God’s family? Check your ambitions. What would make you very happy? We have a couple of steps to scale if we are still thinking about the beaches of the Bahamas. Not for David, though. His delight is in the LORD his God.
There are countless gods of pleasure but David will have none of it. The LORD alone is David’s portion in the land of the living. The LORD makes David’s lot secure. But there is more. The LORD “canceled my ticket to hell – that is not my destination!” David discusses both sides of existence. Here and in the now, he has got a good thing going. But importantly, his after-life is well settled – a place among the living beyond the life we know, in the company of immortality.
The saint can bask in this knowledge: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” And those that have known the brevity and vanity of earthly pleasures can say, Amen.
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