Psalm 16 – Present Faith – Future Hope!

Psalm 16

Present Faith – Future Hope!


Many of the psalms are a desperate cry for help and rescue from extreme circumstances. Psalm 16, while it begins with a prayer, is really a testimony of faith in God for this life and beyond.


We do know that David wrote this psalm but we do not know the circumstances surrounding this psalm. Judging by the tone of the psalm it was likely written after he had experienced some hard times in his life – possibly the years of being on the run from the murderously insane King Saul. The tone of this Psalm is that of someone who has suffered and now has come to a place of rest and confidence in God. Even death cannot rob him of his fellowship with God.


It is reminiscent of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)


The psalm divides neatly into two sections – 1) Present Faith vv.1-6   and   –     2) Future Hope vv.7-11.


  1. 1.     Present Faith vv.1-6


v.1 He starts off with the prayer to be kept safe and to take refuge in God; then continues in verse 2 to explain why God is a place of safety and refuge – God is Lord {King / Sovereign} and to ignore or oppose God is extreme foolishness because only in him is good to be found!


God-ward. V.2

2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Q> Does it mean that there is nothing else good in the world?

The translation of this verse in the NIV is slightly misleading –

NLT – “You are my Master! All the good things I have are from you!”

or –   2 , I have no good beyond you; {i.e. you are my highest treasure}

The psalmist knows where his true treasure is – in God himself.

Paul says a similar thing in the NT – the greatness and glory of knowing Christ far exceeds any earthly achievement or treasure! Philippians 3:8 8 .., I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (NIV)

Paul, like David, seems to be saying that knowing God / Christ is so precious / valuable that by comparison everything else pales so into insignificance as to be of little or no value really.

Man-ward – vv.3-4

Present faith is not only in relation to God but also people.

Two groups:         1) Those who worship the true God and

2) those who worship other gods


David delights to share fellowship with those who, like him, know God in this intimate personal way.

Q> What does this teach us about our relationship with other believers?

One of the mark of a true worshipper / follower of God is the s/he enjoys the company of God’s people. And also enjoys worshipping with God’s people. When a person claims to be a Christian but distances him/herself from the church then that shows a disobedience or misunderstanding of scripture.


David distances himself from those who pursue false gods.

The consequences of the misplaced worship are that their sorrows and trouble will increase. Q> How do we square this with the psalmists cry in other places –“Why do the wicked prosper?”  I guess he is taking a long-term view  – an eternal view beyond this life. [v.10 not abandon me to the grave! – v.11 eternal pleasures]

David will have nothing to do with the false worship practice surrounding these other gods. This is reminiscent of Psalm 1:1

1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (NIV)


To associated in anyway with their false worship would be incompatible with his while hearted devotion to the Lord.


God’s goodness to him. vv.5-6

He mentions to his portion and his cup – probably alluding to his food [rather than land] and his drink – i.e. God satisfies his hunger and his thirst.

Did Jesus have this psalm in mind when he taught – Matthew 5:6 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (NIV)

Q> Does the inheritance he refers to in v6 refer to the land of Canaan or is he thinking of God as his inheritance?  In light of v.10 not abandon me to the grave! – v.11 eternal pleasures, he may well have in mind God himself.

1 Peter 1:3-4 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, (NIV)


Future Hope vv.7-11

In God we are rock-solid.

ILLUS.: Have you ever lain awake at night worrying / anxious – problems and trouble often seem so big at night – then we awake in the morning and somehow the problems don’t always seem so huge.


In this psalm David is so secure that he finds that even at night his fellowship with God is so intimate that his faith is rock-solid. God is always before him [v.8 –before me] and beside him [v. 8 at his right-hand]

Q> Do you think this is always the case?

There were times when David didn’t feel like this –


He is so secure in God that he is convinced that even his future beyond the grave is secure and this causes him to rejoice – v.9.


These last few verses have different levels of interpretation.

1st – he is expressing confidence in God that he will not be abandoned to the grave – lit. sheol – the place of the dead but that god will rescue him from this.


2nd – the corollary to deliverance from death is treading the path of life – this is not just physical survival but enjoyment of God’s presence bringing joy and eternal pleasures.

The NT calls this eternal life

John 3:15-16 15 that everyone who believes in him [Jesus] may have eternal life.

John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, …

John 17:2 2 For you [God the Father] granted him [God the Son] authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.


3rd – Peter in the NT applies these verses to Jesus – it is this 3rd level upon which the other two stand. There would be no eternal life and no rescue from the place of the Dead / grave without this 3rd level.

David is unlikely to have understood the implications of what he was writing but carried along by the Spirit he writes these words and Peter in Acts 2 in the NT applies them to Jesus.  Acts 2:30-31 30 But he [David] was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. (NIV)


David was led to write these words about the conquest of death and the fullness of life and joy in God’s presence forever. These words would have their final and ultimate fulfilment, not in his experience but in that of his great descendant Jesus Christ – came to earth to die and rise again – thus opening a way for all who believe to be rescued from abandonment to sheol / the place of the dead AND to enter into eternal life and joy in God’s presence forever!!


The Lord’s supper is a constant reminder of Jesus’ conquest of the grave and the Way of entry into eternal life.


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