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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 16

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verse 1

This verse is a kind of topic sentence for the section. It is a prayer for protection in some unidentified distress based on the psalmist’s confidence in the Lord’s protection.

Verses 1-8

1. Joy in present distress 16:1-8

In this first section of the psalm, David reflected on what he had come to know about the Lord and how this knowledge comforted him.

Verses 1-11

Psalms 16

This psalm voices the joy David experienced in his life, because of his trust in God and fellowship with God, even though he faced distressing physical dangers. David appears in this psalm as the type of person that he described in the previous psalm. Chisholm classified this psalm as indirectly Messianic (cf. Acts 2:22-31; Acts 13:35-37), [Note: Chisholm, pp. 293-95.] and Merrill called it a psalm of confidence. [Note: Merrill, "Psalms," p. 414.]

The meaning of "mikhtam" (NASB) in the title is not clear. All the suggested explanations that I have read (engraved in gold, to cover, secret treasure, pithy saying, etc.) seem unconvincing. Fortunately we do not need to know the sure meaning of this term to understand and appreciate the psalm. Ironside believed there is some correspondence between Psalms 16 and the meal offering in Israel’s worship (Leviticus 2). He also saw these connections: Psalms 40 and the burnt offering, Psalms 85 and the peace offering, Psalms 22 and the sin offering, and Psalms 69 and the trespass offering. [Note: Ironside, p. 77.]

Verse 2

David had told the Lord that He was his only hope. The writer had no good beside Yahweh, probably in the sense that he knew that he had no goodness of his own apart from God (cf. Psalms 73:25).

Verse 3

An evidence of David’s confidence in the Lord was his choice to keep company with others who trusted in and walked with God. He respected them because they shared the majestic quality of their God.

Verse 4

In contrast to these godly saints are those who trade worship of the true God for what they think they will gain from following other gods (i.e., apostates). However, they only receive multiplied sorrows. David refused to join them in worshipping false gods, or even mentioning them, because he found what they were doing so distasteful.

Verses 5-6

David spoke with satisfaction of the Lord as something that someone had given him. He compared God to a valuable inheritance passed on to him by his ancestors, and to wine in a cup that brings great joy and satisfaction to the one who drinks it. He also gave God credit for supporting him in his lot in life. The lines marking the boundaries of David’s inheritance (i.e., God’s will) had turned out to be good lines since they prescribed a great inheritance. Compared to a piece of real estate such as the ones given to the Israelite tribes when they entered the Promised Land, David had received a pleasant lot. He viewed his inheritance as a beautiful piece of property. Obviously, he was pleasantly content with God and found great delight in Him.

Verse 7

In view of this delight, David purposed to bless or praise the Lord. This is the first of many references to blessing or praising the Lord in the Book of Psalms. To bless God means to speak well of Him and thus to praise Him.

God had counseled David through His Word. David received counsel from God through the previously written books of the Old Testament, through other prophets such as Nathan and Gad, and through personal revelations. David himself was a prophet as well as a king. It is probably to these personal words from the Lord that David referred in the second part of this verse.

Verse 8

Because the Lord Himself was the main focus of David’s attention and satisfaction, he knew no one would shake him in any major way from his stability in life (cf. Psalms 15:5 c). David described giving God first place in his life as having placed God at his right hand, the place of greatest honor and authority in the ancient East. Since David was a king, the place he gave God was especially honorable. Because David had delegated his defense to God, he knew his "right hand Man" would not fail him.

Peter quoted Psalms 16:8-11 on the day of Pentecost as a messianic prophecy (Acts 2:25-28). These words were true of Jesus Christ. They apply to Him.

Verses 9-10

Evidently David had received a special revelation from the Lord that he would not die then, but would escape from whatever distress he was enduring (cf. Psalms 16:7 a). The phrase "my glory rejoices" (NASB) means David rejoiced that his glory as a living person blessed by God would continue to be a source of joy for him. God would spare his life. Of course, David did not mean he would live forever, by bypassing death. He only meant that he would not die then. David was God’s "holy one" (Psalms 16:10) in that God had set him apart for a special purpose and because his life was indeed God’s, as he described earlier in this psalm. [Note: See Gregory V. Trull, "An Exegesis of Psalms 16:10," Bibliotheca Sacra 161:643 (July-September 2004):304-21, for three interpretive options.]

The Apostle Paul referred to Psalms 16:10 as a messianic prophecy of Jesus Christ’s resurrection (Acts 13:35). This is one of the few clear references to resurrection in the Old Testament (cf. Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2). [Note: Merrill, "Psalms," p. 414.]

"The 16th Psalm is a prediction of the resurrection of the King. As a prophet, David declared that, not at His first advent but at some time subsequent to His death and resurrection, the Messiah would assume the Davidic throne. Cp. Acts 2:25-31 with Luke 1:32-33 and Acts 15:13-17." [Note: The New Scofield . . ., p. 606.]

Verses 9-11

2. Confidence in future deliverance 16:9-11

Verse 11

The psalmist counted on God giving him further revelation about what path to take so he would experience life rather than death. This path would take him eventually into God’s presence where David’s joy would be complete. Endless pleasures would come from God’s right hand (cf. Psalms 16:8 b).

"The refugee of verse I finds himself an heir, and his inheritance beyond all imagining and all exploring." [Note: Kidner, p. 86.]

Peter and Paul saw in Psalms 16:8-11, and in Psalms 16:10 b, respectively, prophecies concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:25-28; Acts 13:35-37). What David was confident that God would do for him, namely, deliver him from death, was what God also did for David’s greatest son, the Lord Jesus. In David’s case, God did this by postponing his death, but in Jesus’ case He did it by resurrecting Him. What David was confident that God would do for him, God also did for Christ, only in a different way.

As Christians reading this psalm today, we too can rejoice as David did-that the Lord will preserve those who take refuge in Him. He will even deliver us from death, perhaps by prolonging our lives temporarily as He did in David’s case, but definitely by resurrecting us as He did Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 16". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-16.html. 2012.
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