BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41
Psalm 16 has something of David in it, but much more of Christ. It begins with expressions of devotion that could only be applied to Christ. Yet concludes with such confidence of a resurrection that it must be applied to Christ. David speaks of himself as a member of Christ, and so he speaks the language of all good Christians.
Psalm 16 – A Psalm of David
Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.” As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” Their sorrows shall be multiplied who run after another god. Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips. O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup. You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The golden Psalm
Henry says – This Psalm is entitled as a golden psalm and if of more value to us than fine gold because it speaks plainly of Christ and His resurrection. In verse 1 David flies to God’s protection with a cheerful, believing confidence: “Preserve me, O God! from the deaths, and especially from the sins, to which I am continually exposed. For in You, and in You only, do I put my trust.” Those who by faith commit themselves to Divine care and guidance, have reason to hope for their benefits. This is applicable to Christ, who prayed, Father, save me from this hour, and trusted in God that He would deliver Him.
David recognises the solemn dedication of himself to God in verse 2: “O my soul! You have said to the Lord, You are my Lord, and therefore I can trust Him.” It is the duty and interest of everyone of us to acknowledge the Lord for our Lord and subject ourselves to Him. Then to fix ourselves on Him. Adonai signifies My stayer, the strength of my heart. This must be done with our souls: “O my soul! You have said it.” Covenanting with God must be heart-work; all that is within us must engage in it. We are to abide by it, and never unsay it. If we’ve said it then we may take comfort in it, and live up to it. He is your Lord so worship Him, and let your eye be ever towards Him.”
They must be and do good
In devoting himself to the honour of God, David puts himself in the service of the saints: My goodness extends to the saints. Those who have the Lord must, like Him, be good and do good. We cannot expect happiness without goodness. Whatever good there is in us, or is done by us, we must humbly acknowledge that it comes from God. We cannot pretend to take any merit to ourselves. God has no need of our service. They cannot add anything to His infinite perfection. Whatever good we do, it is all from Him so that we are indebted to Him, not He to us. If God be ours, we must, for His sake, extend our goodness to those who are His, to the saints in the earth. For what is done to them, He is pleased to take as done to Himself.
Those who are renewed by the grace of God, and devoted to the glory of God, are saints on earth. The saints on earth are excellent and magnificent ones. Yet some of them so poor in the world they need David’s goodness extended to them. They are precious in His sight, His jewels and His peculiar treasure. Their God is their glory, and a diadem of beauty to them. All who have taken the Lord for their God delight in His saints, because they bear His image, and because He loves them. David, though a king, was a companion of all who feared God (Ps. 119:63).
The labour of love
We must be ready to show the saints the kindness and necessities they need in a labour of love to them. This is applicable to Christ. The goodness and benefit of His salvation extends to us men, in whom He delights, Prov. 8:31. For their sakes, He says, I sanctify myself, John 17:19. Christ delights in the saints on earth, despite our weaknesses and infirmities.
David reads the doom of idolaters, who have chased after another god. Their sorrows shall be multiplied. Sorrow from the judgments they bring upon themselves from doing so and by the disappointments they will encounter in these false gods. He declares his resolution to have no fellowship with them nor with their unfruitful works of darkness: “Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer. Not only because the gods they are offered to are a lie, but because they are barbarous.” At God’s altar, because the blood made atonement, the drinking of it was most strictly prohibited. But the devil prescribed to his worshippers to drink of the blood of the sacrifices, to teach them cruelty.
The Lord is my portion
“I will have nothing to do” (says David) “with those bloody deities, nor so much as take their names upon my lips.” We also must we hate idols and idolatry with a perfect hatred. In verse 5 He repeats the solemn choice he had made of God for his portion and happiness (Ps. 16:5). “Most men take the pleasures of the world as their chief aim. But I say, The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup. The portion I choose whatever my condition is in this world. Let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of Him. Let me have the comfort of communion with God. The satisfaction of His graces and an interest in His promises of everlasting life and happiness in the future state. I have enough and need no more nor desire no more, to complete my happiness.”
God Himself is the inheritance of the saints. He is our everlasting bliss, our home, our rest, our everlasting good. This world is not for us, we are just passing through. He is the portion of our cup with which we are nourished, and refreshed, and kept from fainting. “You maintain my lot and have promised to be mine and graciously fulfill what You have promised. You will never leave me to myself to forfeit this happiness, nor leave it in the power of my enemies to rob me of it. Nothing shall pluck me out of Your hands, nor separate me from Your love.” The saints and their bliss are kept by the power of God.
Return to your rest
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Those who have God for their portion have reason to say so. What can they have any better? What can they desire anymore? Return to your rest, O my soul! and look no further. Gracious people, though they still desire more of God, never desire more than God. They are satisfied of His loving-kindness and abundantly satisfied.
“I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, this counsel is to take Him for my portion and happiness.” We are so ignorant and foolish that if we were left to ourselves, our hearts would follow our eyes, and we would choose our own delusions and lying vanities. To take God for our portion is to prefer spiritual and eternal blessings instead of temporal ones. Yet we are to thankfully acknowledge the power and goodness of Divine grace in directing and enabling us to make that choice.
Let your conscience instruct you
Having been given the counsel of God’s Word and Spirit, David’s own reins (his own conscience) instructed him during the night. When he was silent and solitary he reflected with comfort upon the choice he had made. But also instructed himself concerning the duties arising out of this choice. He quickened himself to live to God. Those who have God for their portion, and who will be faithful to Him, must allow their own consciences to deal plainly with them.
All this may be applied to Christ, who made God His portion. He made His Father’s glory His highest end and made it His meat and drink to do His will. We should also apply it to ourselves in renewing our choice of God as ours. All these verses are quoted by St. Peter in his first sermon, after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of pentecost (Acts 2:25-28). He tells us expressly that David speaks of Christ and His resurrection.
He will perfect all that concerns you
David depended upon God’s grace to perfect everything that concerned him. In these holy elevations towards God he was carried by the spirit of prophecy beyond the consideration of himself and his own case. In it he foretold the glory of the Messiah. These verses testify of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow (1 Pet. 1:11). He was wonderfully borne up by Divine power to persevere in it, till he could say, It is finished. Though the service was hard yet He did not give up the cause, but set his face as a flint, Isa. 50:7-9.
Christ with unspeakable pleasure and satisfaction suffered and who was witnesses in saying (John 17:11), Now I am no more in this world, but I come to You (John 18:11), The cup that My Father has given me, shall I not drink it? There were three things that bore Him up and carried Him on cheerfully:—The respect He had for His Father’s will and glory: I have set the Lord always before me. He set an eye to the Father’s commandment (John 10:18; 14:31). His aim was for His Father’s honour and the restoration of His Kingdom’s interests among men. This kept Him from being moved by the difficulties He encountered, for He always did those things that pleased His Father.
At my right hand
Christ had the assurance of His Father’s presence with Him in His sufferings: He is at my right hand, a present help to me. He is near who justifies me (Isa. 50:8); He is at my right hand, to direct and strengthen it, and hold it up, Ps. 89:21. In His agony an angel was sent from heaven to strengthen Him, Luke 22:43. To this owed the victories and triumphs of the cross.
For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, Heb. 12:2. He rested in hope, and that made His rest glorious, Isa. 11:10. He knew He would be justified in the Spirit by His resurrection, and straightway glorified. See John 13:31, 32. He was brought through His sufferings, and from under the power of death by a glorious resurrection.
You will show me the path of life
He was God’s holy One, sanctified to the work of redemption and perfectly free from sin. We who have so much corruption in our souls, must expect our bodies to corrupt (Job 24:19). But the holy One of God who knew no sin saw no corruption. Under the law it was strictly ordered that the parts of the sacrifices which were not burnt upon the altar should not be kept untill the third day, lest they putrefy (Lev. 7:15, 18). This points at Christ’s rising on the third day, that He might not see corruption.
“You will show me the path of life, and lead me through this darksome valley.” In confidence of this, He gave up His last and said, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. As a reward for the sorrows He underwent for our redemption, He would have fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore. Not only the glory He had with God before the world was created, but the joy and pleasure of a Mediator. He would intercede for His seed, and see the success of His service, Isa. 53:10, 11. With Christ being the Head of the body, the church, these verses may be applied to all Christians. We who are guided and animated by the Spirit of Christ.
Eye Him for our chief good
With these verses, first we are to give glory to Christ, in whom we have everlasting comfort. Then we may encourage and edify ourselves and one another with them. It is our wisdom and duty to set the Lord always before us and wherever we are, to eye Him for our chief good and highest end. Our owner, ruler, judge, gracious benefactor, sure guide and strict observer. When we do this, we shall not be moved from our duty or from our comfort. The Apostle Paul set the Lord before him, when, though afflictions he could bravely say, None of these things move me, Acts 20:24.
If our eyes be towards God then our hearts and tongues should evermore rejoice in Him. If the heart rejoice in God then out of the abundance let the mouth speak, to His glory, and the edification of others. Dying Christians, as well as a dying Christ, may cheerfully put off the body, in a believing expectation of a joyful resurrection: My flesh also shall rest in hope. Our bodies have little rest in this world, but in the grave they shall rest as in their beds, Isa. 57:2. We have little to hope for from this life, but we shall rest in hope of a better life. Death destroys the hope of man (Job 14:19), but not the hope of a good Christian, Prov. 14:32. He has hope in his death, living hopes in dying moments.
Who those who live rightly before God may die comfortably with heaven in their vision. In this world sorrow is our lot, but in heaven there is joy. All our joys here are empty, but in heaven there is a fulness of joy. Our pleasures here are transient but for those at God’s right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Your confidence is in Me Trust in Me for safety I’ll protect you, you yourself bring Say unto Me ‘You are my Lord’ Apart from Me you have no good thing. How excellent are My faithful people Glorious are they in My sight, To joy in their company Is all My delight. The sorrows will increase Of those who other gods seek, I will not receive their sacrifices Of their names do not even speak. I am your inheritance Your prize, your food and drink, I guard all that is yours From My purposes do not shrink. I will see that you are given pleasant brooks And meadows as your share, What a wonderful inheritance To be in My loving care. When you falter I will guide you I will give you wisdom in the night I will tell you what to do I will always be your light. Continually be aware of My presence And when you do You’ll know there is nothing That can shake you Let your heart be glad and your tongue rejoice Feel completely secure, I am strong to save I will not leave you among the dead Abandoning you to the grave. To you the path of life I will make to know I will fill you with joy in My presence And take you for My own. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. I, like David, fly to You for protection with a cheerful, believing confidence. By faith I commit myself to Your Divine care and guidance. I acknowledge You as my Lord and subject myself to You. I fix myself on Adonai, my stayer and the strength of my heart. May the covenant I have with You be a complete heart-work and may all that is within me engage in it. May I abide by it, and never unsay it, but live up to it. You are my Lord and I worship You. Let me be good and do good. Though that whatever good there is in me, or done by me, I humbly acknowledge that it comes from You. I cannot take any merit to myself.
May I extend goodness to those who belong to You, the saints on the earth. For I know that what is done to them, You are pleased to take as done to Yourself. Let me be ever ready in a labour of love show kindness to the saints and be willing to give the necessities they need. For I say, The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup. The portion I choose whatever my condition in this world. Let me have Your love and favour and be accepted by You. Let me have the comfort of communion with You.
The satisfaction of Your graces and a keen interest in Your promises of everlasting life. I have enough, I need no more, I desire no more, to complete my happiness. Thank You for the assurance that nothing shall pluck me out of Your hand, nor separate me from Your love. I am kept by Your power alone and thankfully acknowledge the power and goodness of Divine grace in directing and enabling me to make that choice.
Let my own conscience instruct me during the night concerning the duties from this choice. May I quicken myself to live to You and let it be my meat and drink to do Your will. I depend fully on Your grace to perfect everything that concerns me. May my aim be for Your honour and the restoration of Your Kingdom’s interests among men. Thank You for the assurance of Your presence with me. I make it my duty to set You always before me. Let my heart and tongue evermore rejoice in You. From this abundance let my mouth speak, to Your glory, and the edification of others. Though we have little to hope for from this life, we shall rest in hope of a better life to come. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.