Summary: I keep the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved (Psalm 16:8).
A PSALM OF CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD
To say, ‘I am hoping that I am hoping’ is to make hope itself the object of our hope. To say, ‘I don’t know if I have enough faith to believe that’ is to make the power to believe the basis of our faith. The Psalmist David is of another mind.
The opening petition of Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me O God”, is grounded in his trust in the LORD: “in thee do I put my trust”. We do not know the occasion of this composition, but the Psalmist’s life was often fraught with danger. Like our Lord Jesus, David knew betrayal by friends and deceit by enemies.
The writer did not imagine that somehow he deserved the LORD’s goodness. None of us do. Instead, he humbly admitted his own limitations: in effect, “I have no good apart from you” (Psalm 16:2).
Not only did the Psalmist yearn after the LORD. The right-thinking believer also has a high regard for God’s faithful people (Psalm 16:3). We cannot love the Lord if we hate the brethren (1 John 3:14).
As for those who follow other ‘gods’, they only multiply their own sorrows (Psalm 16:4). The righteous man will have nothing to do with their incantations or ablutions. Even the names of other ‘gods’ shall not pass his lips (cf. Exodus 23:13).
Every tribe in Israel had their own apportioned inheritance, but David - like the Levites - found his portion in the LORD Himself. Our cup of destiny is wrapped up in our service of the LORD (Psalm 16:5).
It is more important to have a godly heritage than to possess even the best of the land (Psalm 16:6). Our inheritance might be meagre - and already spent - but our relationship with the Lord endures forever. ‘It is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness’ (cf. Psalm 84:10).
David received counsel from the LORD when he set his heart to seek the LORD in the night watches (Psalm 16:7). We cannot complain of unanswered prayer if we do not take time, even make time, to pray. Then we will emerge with blessing towards the Lord upon our lips, not cursing.
Having once set the LORD before us, we must go on setting the LORD before us. “Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8). Walk in His path, His way, and you will find Him a very present help in time of trouble (cf. Psalm 46:1).
“Therefore,” says the Psalmist, “my heart is glad” (Psalm 16:9). Reassurance of God’s presence uplifts his spirit, and rejoices his soul. Even his body can rest in hope.
Psalm 16:10 intones the quiet joy of Easter. I read in the Greek of Acts 2:27, “You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you give your holy (one) to see corruption.” There Peter is making the case for Jesus’ resurrection as having been foretold by David in our present passage (Psalm 16:8-11; cf. Acts 2:24-31).
David, meantime, could look forward to better things to come. Because of Jesus’ ‘triumph o’er the grave’, God does not abandon His people to death. The Lord shows us the path of life, fullness of joy in His presence, and “pleasures evermore” (Psalm 16:11).