Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 16

Posted on: March 3rd, 2013

Prayer is a beautiful blessing that too many of us do not use effectively. Too often, we will pray to God only in times of distress or crisis. Prayer is the “last resort”, because everything else has failed. It is like the spare tire on the car. No one thinks about it until another tire goes flat. Then, the driver pulls it out hoping that it has air in it and works.

However, prayer is more than just asking for help. Prayer is the primary way that we communicate with our Lord. We can have prayers of thanksgiving, praise, joy, rejoicing, and many other ways. We know from Psalm 16, that David understood all the different ways that prayer could be used. Much of Psalm 16 is a prayer of praise over what God had done for Him, and all of His people.

Verse 2 is very significant, “I said to the Lord, You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Oh, how all people need to understand and follow this! In spite of everything, we want to be in charge. Oh yes, we may pray for specific things that we need, but the rest of the time God should stay in his place, because “I can handle it from here.”

Fortunately, the Lord does not work that way. God is not some waiter, or servant, that is waiting for us to “beckon” to Him fulfill some little need. Instead, we are expected to serve Him and please Him. We are expected to give God our trust, our lives, and, yes, our prayers.

Becoming a Christian involves a change – a major change in life. We may profess that we want to change for the Lord, but too often, what we really mean is that we want that change to be relatively small and painless. However, when we obey the Gospel, accept the Lord as our Savior, and become part of God’s family, God sets about to do a thorough “housecleaning”. Sometimes the process is not painless at all! But like David, we should say with thanksgiving “Apart from you I have no good thing.”

Verse 3 also points out another important truth that says something about David’s character. “As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight”. It is especially important that Christians have close friends that are also Christians. Christians cannot cut themselves off from the world, but genuine friendships must be carefully nurtured with believers. Christian friendships will build up faith and encourage. Our Christian friends can be like the wind that fills the sails of a ship and propels it forward. Good Christ-centered friends will help a Christian face the trials of life with strength and courage.

In verse 6, David wrote, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful Inheritance”. As you consider this passage, think of all the great trials and hardships that David had to face. Yes, he was a king with great wealth and power, but look at what he suffered! In spite of all that, David looked beyond the trials of life to the eternal reward that awaited him. That clearly demonstrated the great faith of David. Today, the good news of Jesus Christ has been plainly proclaimed, but for David, that message was still the “mystery of the ages”. Only through his faith in God’s love and mercy could he look forward to his inheritance. Aren’t we blessed to KNOW that God’s invitation is available to everyone through Jesus Christ?

Not only was David’s spirit given to God, but he also knew that his body was also secure, “… my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay”. Many Jewish teachers studied in vain to find the answer to those words of David. They knew that David had died and had been buried in a tomb. How could he have said that he would not see decay?

The answer would not come until centuries later when a simple fisherman stood up on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, and proclaimed the first Gospel Message concerning Jesus Christ. In Acts 2:25-28, Peter used the passage from Psalm 16 to prove that David was speaking of the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Only in Christ could David’s body truly not see decay. Today, as Christians, we know that we will face death just as David faced it. Yet, we KNOW that the grave will not hold us, and we will be raised again to an eternal life. What joy! What peace! What blessings are ours through our Lord!

Yes, David wrote through the inspiration of the Spirit; but today, our spiritual vision is much clearer, and we can truly echo the final words of the psalm, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”                                    Jim Shelburn