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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 16

Verses 1-11

Assurance in God

Psalms 16:0

The Psalmist lived in a period when belief in the reality of many gods was still strong, and when a man who would follow the one true God had to prefer to do so against the attractions of other deities, and against the convictions of a great number of his fellow-countrymen that these deities were living and powerful.

I. It is remarkable how, when a man really turns to God, he turns to God's people as well, and how he includes them in the loyalty and in the devotion which he feels toward his Redeemer. His confidence and the sensitiveness of his faith in and toward God become almost an equal confidence and an equal sensitiveness toward his fellow-believers. So it is throughout the Scriptures.

II. In these days such a duty is unfortunately more complicated than with the Psalmist The line between God's Church and the world is not so clear as it was to him, and the Church is divided into many and often hostile factions. All the more it becomes the test of our religion if our hearts feel and rejoice in the fellowship of God's simpler and more needy and more devoted believers, however unattractive they may otherwise be. This Psalmist's chief and practical help to us men and women today is that he became sure of God not because of any miracle or supernatural sign, on his report of which we might be content indolently to rest our faith, but in God's own providence in his life and in God's quiet communion with him through the organs God Himself has created in every one of us. For all time, whether before or after Christ, these are the chief grounds and foundations of faith in God.

III. God's guidance of his life, first of all, produces in a man a great sense of stability. He who has found God so careful of him, he whom God hath regarded as worth speaking to and counselling and disciplining him, will be certain that he shall endure, provided that he is sure of his own loyalty. The life so loved of God, so provided for, and in such close communion with the Eternal is not, cannot be, the creature of the day, and this assurance stands firm in face of even death and the horrible corruption of the body. We are assured of the future life because we have known God, and as we have found Him to be true to us and proved ourselves true to Him.

George Adam Smith, Homiletic Review, 1906, vol. LII. p. 458.

Psalms 16:0

This Psalm was the last Scripture read by Hugh M'Kail the evening before his execution in the Grass-market of Edinburgh. After reading it he said to his father, and those about him: 'If there were anything in this world sadly and unwillingly to be left, it were the reading of the Scriptures. I said: " I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living". But this needs not make us sad; for where we go, the Lamb is the book of Scripture, and the light of that city, and where He is, there is life, even the river of the water of life, and living springs.'

John Ker.

Death the Gate of Life

Psalms 16:9-11

The very sight of the tremendous and irresistible power of death draws one to think of its weakness and limitations. We have here a saint of old who had no such light as ours in the very act of rising by virtue of his religious experience to the loftiest elevation of triumphant confidence.

I. The Grounds of the Triumphant Confidence. The realization of Jehovah's presence at his right hand; the blessedness and stability which flowed therefrom; these are the facts which lead the singer to grasp the confidence that he will never die.

( a ) The capacity to commune with God is surely an indication of something in humanity which is not born for death.

( b ) The exercise of that capacity makes it for the man himself an absolute impossibility to conceive that such a thing as death should have power over it.

II. The Contents of the Triumphant Confidence. ( a ) In a very real sense we see here the religious life abolishing death even while it did not see the way in which its confidence was to be fulfilled.

( b ) The whole course of the devout soul will be in the way of life in the deepest sense. Mors janua vitae ; the road to life leads through death. That thought was trembling on the Psalmist's lips.

III. The Fulfilment of the Confidence. The Psalmist's hopes were not fully realized because his communion was not perfect. But Christ has conquered death for us all, and now with the light of His resurrection we can take the words of the text with deeper meaning.

Alexander Maclaren.

References. XVI. 8. M. R. Vincent, God and Bread, p. 59. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1305. Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii. p. 18. W. F. Shaw, Sermon-Sketches, p. 37. XVI. 8-10. Archbishop Thomson, Lincoln's Inn Sermons, p. 62. XVI. 8-11. A. Maclaren, Sunday Magazine, 1881, p. 738. XVI. 9. A. R. Ashwell, God in His Work and Nature, p. 1. XVI. 9, 10. 'Plain Sermons' by contributors to Tracts for the Times, vol. ix. p. 120. XVI. 10. J. Keble, Sermons for Easter to Ascension Day, pp. 74, 128. C. Stanford, From Calvary to Olivet, p. 24. Expositor (3rd Series), vol. v. p. 308. Ibid. (2nd Series), vol. vii. p. 40.

Emotions of a Saint in Heaven

Psalms 16:11

Heaven is the Christian's goal.

I. He has been made the subject of a change that affects everything connected with him save his identity.

II. The unencumbered action of the spirit.

III. The friendships of heaven will be of a higher order than those of earth.

IV. He will stand in the presence of Christ.

This faint view of the joys of the redeemed inspires two reflections: ( a ) That excessive grief over the departed is unwarranted.

( b ) That we should make sure of our inheritance with the saints in light.

A. S. Gardner, Pulpit and Grave, p. 251.

References. XVI. 11. H. Moffat, Church Sermons, vol. i. p. 49. XVI. International Critical Commentary, vol. i. p. 117. W. F. Shaw, Sermon-Sketches, p. 37. J. Hammond, Expositor (1st Series), vol. iv. p. 341. I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 279. XVII. 3. H. P. Liddon, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 193. XVII. 5. Parker, City Temple, vol. i. p. 60. XVII. 7. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 141. XVII. 8. F. W. Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i. p. 190. E. A. Bray, Sermons, vol. i. p. 114. G. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxi. p. 244. XVII. 13. E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. ii. p. 128.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.