Our text for today is Psalm 16. These are God’s Words.
16 A Miktam of David.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
Psalm 16 begins, “A miktam” of David. Miktam is related to a Hebrew word meaning, “an engraving.” It could be that Psalm 16 was inscribed on plates or walls of homes or businesses. It’s a profound Psalm that is full of instruction on putting your confidence in the Lord in the midst of difficult times.
The Psalm contains only one request: “Preserve me, O God.” The rest of the Psalm is an expression of David’s confidence and delight in God and all he gives. God is David’s refuge. (v. 1)
If you want a perfect description of what a Christian is, you won’t find one better than verse 2: “I say to the Lord, you are my Lord. I have no good apart from you.” A Christian takes personal ownership of the Lord. And a Christian treasures the Lord in and above all things. (v. 2)
David has thrown in his lot not only with the Lord but with the Lord’s people. They are his delight and he will not run after the functional saviors of the world. That’s a recipe for sorrow. (v. 3)
To say that the Lord is his “chosen portion,” he’s saying he has an infinite inheritance. To say the Lord is his “cup,” he’s saying, “Everything that is handed to me is you.” The boundaries lines of David’s life have fallen in pleasant places (v. 5-6)
Not only is the Lord his benefactor, but he is also his counselor, walking beside him and helping him make decisions. The Lord is at his right hand- he is the sword of strength protecting David. For all these reasons, David’s heart is glad (v. 7-8)
God made a covenant with David and he’s not going to keep that covenant all of David’s life only to abandon him in the moment of his greatest need: death. David’s soul will not be lost. The path of life doesn’t lead to the tomb as a sentence ending with a period, but through the tomb, like a comma beginning the following phrase of glory. (v. 10-11)
PRAYER THAT CREATES MORE WORRY
The majority of Psalm 16 heaps up good reasons for putting our confidence in God. And, because the Psalm is mostly thanksgiving, we might forget that it began with a plea for help! Preserve me!
So, if David needed divine preservation, why does he spend most of his time expressing confidence and delight in God? What is this teaching us?
There is a kind of prayer that only increases our worries. And I’m convinced this is one of the reasons we do not pray more. David is showing us a way to pray that disburdens our hearts and relieves our anxieties, and this can only come through expressions of gratitude, confidence, and hope. How God-centered are your worries?
THE NATURE OF TRUE BLESSING
The word blessed has been abused in our day as much as the word justice, or grace, or faith. Our culture uses the word almost exclusively to describe material conditions. So, when you get a promotion, or your tax refund is bigger than expected you are #blessed. But the Scriptures more often than not connect true blessedness with enjoying the presence and face of God.
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
Here again, in Psalm 16, notice the source and center of David’s blessedness:
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 16:2)
He does not say that he has no other goods. He says there is no good apart from the Lord.
A PROMISE OF RESURRECTION
The central question of this Psalm comes out in verse 10: David is utterly convinced that God will not allow him to perish in the grave. But from where we are standing, David’s skin and bones wasted away centuries ago in Israel. So, was this just wishful thinking? How can God keep this promise to David?
The answer comes in Acts 2:22-49
36 Let all the house of Israel, therefore, know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Friends, because God the Father did not abandon the soul of Christ to the grave, he will not abandon yours if you belong to Christ.
In the last several years we buried some of the sweetest people I’ve ever known—but when we laid them in the ground, God did not abandon them.
AN IMMENSE INHERITANCE
So, what does this hope produce in us? God is good to us in this life, and he will bring us into an everlasting inheritance in the next?
Karl Marx argued that religion was a tool wielded by those in power to maintain the status quo. Hopes of heaven, hopes of an inheritance beyond this life would pacify the working class and keep them in their place. But is that the case?
No. Only the knowledge that there is a God, that there is a life beyond this life, that there is a judgment, and that we are saved by grace, not works actually allows us to value our work and work for a better world today.
The Lord is our portion, and this is incomparably more than if we had heaven and earth; for all the earth is but as a point compared with the vastness of the heavens, and the heavens themselves are but a point compared with God.