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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 16

Verse 1

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

Title. - Michtam of David. Some derive Miktaam (H4387) from kaatam (H3799), gold-the golden (i:e., excellent) psalm, as Pythagoras' verses were called golden verses. This is scarcely borne out by the Hebrew. Hengstenberg better explains it as 'a secret:' a song conducting us into the depths of the divine life, that 'secret of the Lord which is with them that fear Him' [from kaatam, to conceal].

I. Declaration of trust, not in his own goodness, much less in idols, but in God, as the only and blessed portion (Psalms 16:1-7).

II. Certainty of everlasting salvation to soul and flesh grounded on that trust (Psalms 16:8-11).

Preserve me, O God - who am in imminent danger.

For in thee do I put my trust. Trust in God is the strongest argument why God should hear prayer for deliverance (Psalms 25:20).

Verse 2

O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;

(O my soul), thou hast said unto the Lord - (Lamentations 3:24-25.) The Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac read, 'I have said' [ 'aamartiy (H559), instead of 'aamart (H559)]. The Hebrew feminine second person singular verb can only be explained by understanding "O my soul." The omission accords with the enigmatical style of the psalm. The address is thus vividly dramatic. The phrase, "my soul," accords with David's phraseology, 1 Samuel 24:11. Compare 2 Samuel 13:39. Having solemnly declared, "In thee do I put my trust," David, in converse with his soul, raises it to the settled feeling that it cannot despair without seeing into flagrant opposition to itself (Hengstenberg).

My goodness extendeth not to thee. So the Septuagint: [toon agathoon mou ou chreian echeis] and Vulgate; literally, '(is) not UPON (i:e., is no addition to) thee' [ `aalekaa (H5921)]. It confers nothing upon thee, for thou needest it not. Thy goodness alone is the foundation of my hope; not any merit of mine. Though God wants nothing from His creatures, yet of His own accord He communicates His goodness to them. Compare Job 35:7; Psalms 16:5-6; Psalms 16:8; Luke 17:10. (Rivetus.) Hengstenberg explains it, 'my good (i:e., the good which I receive, Psalms 106:5); my salvation, in contrast to the sorrows of those that hasten that hasten after another god (Psalms 16:4; not the good which I do) is not beside (independent of) thee'-solely depends on thee (Psalms 16:3), in common with all the saints. "Thou art my Lord" is the soul's response to Exodus 20:2, "I am the Lord thy God." 'My good (i:e., salvation, inheritance, Psalms 16:5-6) is not beside thee' is the soul's response to Exodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (literally, in addition to my presence [ `al (H5921) paanaaya (H6440)]. My presence is used for me, implying God's ubiquity by His omnipresence; so that wherever an idol beside God-Yahweh is set up, it is in His presence). I prefer the English version. The reference to Exodus 20:1-26 still remains. For in disclaiming a goodness independent of, or adding anything to God, the Psalmist virtually recognizes God as the sole source of goodness, and rejects other gods (Psalms 115:1). The antithesis to "their sorrows," in Psalms 16:4, is "mine inheritance," Psalms 16:5, not 'my good,' Psalms 16:2.

Verse 3

But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

But to the saints are in the earth - in contrast to the Most High, who is in the heaven of heavens. Christ Jesus, the Antitype to David, is He to whom this psalm is twice applied in the New Testament (Acts 2:25-28; Acts 13:35-37). He claimed, as man, no goodness independent of God, or which could confer a profit upon God which He had not before. Hence, when the young ruler called Him "Good Master," He replied, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God" (Matthew 19:16-17). His perfect goodness as man was of profit 'to the saints in the earth' - i:e., to those whom He sanctified, or consecrated as His own, by His everlasting purpose of love, whereby also He sanctified or consecrated Himself for their sakes (John 17:19; Hebrews 2:10-11; Hebrews 2:14). It conferred no profit on God, from whom all His goodness as the Son of man was derived. The Hebrew particle for "to (the saints)" lª- expresses 'appertaining to.' The term "saints" here expresses not their holiness so much as His consecration of them as a holy people unto Himself: both the literal Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6; Exodus 19:6) and the spiritual (1 Peter 2:9).

And to the excellent - the princely. Not so much "excellent" in themselves, as in respect to their high calling of God. Christ's righteousness as man was done for the sake of these, that they might be the "righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). In reference to David, the type, the inspired words here have only a partial fulfillment. David disclaims making his goodness a ground of hope, since, however beneficial such goodness may be to the saints, with whom he is one, it confers nothing upon God.

In whom is all my delight - my sympathies. In their fullest sense these words find their fulfillment in Messiah alone (Proverbs 8:31. "My delights were with the sons of men;" also Hebrews 2:14).

Verse 4

Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god - in contrast to the the "inheritance" and "pleasant places" (Psalms 16:5-6) which belong to those who have "the Lord" for their "portion" (Psalms 16:5-6). The names in Hebrew for idol-gods and for sorrows are similar-a bad omen for those who choose such objects of trust [ `atsªbowt (H6094), sorrows; `ªtsabiym (H6091)]; the idols being so called from the troubles which befell their votaries (Isaiah 65:14). The Hebrew for "hasten after another" [ 'acheer (H312) maahaaruw (H4116)] is applied in Exodus 22:15 to buying a wife with a dowry. So it represents figuratively the idolaters purchasing their idol paramours with costly sacrifices. Whereas Yahweh, as the Husband, took the initiative in purchasing Israel to Himself out of the bondage of Egypt, the false gods gave no token of love, or, indeed, of their existence: the first advance was made (Hosea 8:9; Ezekiel 16:33-34) by their infatuated votaries in buying them at a dear cost. But a bought god could only bring sorrow, not salvation.

Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer. Not that they literally offered blood; but be means, Their drink offerings are as much my abhorrence (because offered to idols) as if they were not of wine, but of blood. The phrase is appropriate, since wine is "the blood of grapes" (Genesis 49:11).

Nor take up their names into my lips - obedience to the command, Exodus 23:13 (cf. also Hosea 2:17).

Verse 5

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance - (Lamentations 3:24.) The image is from the tribe of Levi and Aaron the high priest, to whom the Lord spake, Numbers 18:20, "Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land; neither shalt thou have any part among them. I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel," etc. So the true Israelites feel the Lord to be their inheritance, whether they have more or less of this world's goods. Christ, the Antitype, in the fullest sense, made 'the Lord His portion:' as the second Adam, He resumed that standing of implicit trust in Yahweh as His all, from which the first Adam fell, beguiled by the illusory promises of another inheritance held out by the father of lies.

And of my cup. Image from a sumptuous feast (Psalms 23:5).

Thou maintainest my lot, [ towmiyk (H8551)] - thou wilt not suffer any one to dispossess me of this my lot. Not like earthly possessions, from which the lawful owner is often dislodged. The Hebrew means to prop one up, sustain, so as not to fall, as Aaron and Hur propped up Moses' hands (Exodus 17:12; cf. Psalms 41:12; Psalms 63:8; Psalms 125:3). Satan cannot, by force or fraud, deprive the saints of their lot, once they have obtained it-grace here and glory hereafter (John 10:28-29).

Verse 6

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

The lines are fallen unto me - an image from the cords with which they used to measure and allot lands. The lines are fallen unto me - an image from the cords with which they used to measure and allot lands. Hence, it means my allotment (Amos 7:17; cf. on "fallen unto me," Joshua 16:5). It [ naapluw (H5307) liy (H3807a)] means to be assigned unto (Numbers 34:2).

In pleasant (places), [ banª`imiym (H5273)]. Boettcher denies that an adjective, not of local import, can, without addition, refer to places. In Job 36:11 the same Hebrew, 'pleasures,' stands parallel to 'prosperity.' So here translate, 'in delights,' or pleasures.

Verse 7

I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel - so as to know, and will to choose, the "goodly heritage" (Psalms 16:6; taking 'the Lord for the portion of mine inheritance' (Psalms 16:5).

My reins also instruct me in the night seasons. The "reins" mean whatever is hidden within man-the inmost thoughts and feelings (Psalms 7:9). The Hebrew verb for "instruct" [ yicruwniy (H3256)] means, literally, to chastise. God, by His Spirit, made the distressing thoughts within the Psalmist's breast tend to his subjecting his will to God's "counsel," and so to his disciplinary amendment. Affliction, through God's Word and God's Spirit sanctifying it, became the Psalmist's instructor.

In the night seasons - literally, 'in the nights.' The plural expresses the continued repetition of the instruction night by night. The Antitype, Christ, as the servant of God for man's sake, received the Father's instruction by chastening in afflictions "morning by morning" (Isaiah 50:4-6) so as to be our sympathizing high priest. Compare, also, John 21:49 ; the Son was guided entirely by the Father's "counsel" in the work of redemption. His whole life was one continued bowing of His human will to the Father's (John 4:34; John 6:38). Night was the season of Christ's closest communion with the Father (Mark 1:35; Mark 6:47), and also of His most poignant affliction in Gethsemane (Luke 22:53). It is the season when the believer, too, can, amidst the general stillness, commune with his own soul, and receive the inward instruction designed by God to be drawn from afflictions (Psalms 4:4; Psalms 2:10).

Verse 8

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 'It gives such an undaunted heart when one has God always before one's eyes, that even the cross and sufferings will then be cheerfully encountered' (Luther).

I have set the Lord always before me - as the grand object before my mind's eye, to be contemplated, loved, and worshipped; the scope and rule of my acts; the all-seeing Spectator of my ways; my Helper and Saviour, whence I have no fears, but am confident of deliverance. The Antitype alone realized this perfectly (cf. Isaiah 50:7-9). In this His believing members copy their Head (Isaiah 50:10).

He is at my right hand - the position of one's defender (Psalms 73:23; Psalms 121:5). Contrast 'Satan at the right hand,' to assail and accuse, with Christ "at the right hand of the poor," to defend and advocate their cause (Psalms 109:6; Psalms 109:31). It is impossible that any real hurt can befall those who have the Lord always at their right hand.

Verse 9

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Therefore - because the Lord is at my right hand.

My heart is glad - in the assurance of perfect deliverance.

And my glory rejoiceth - "my glory," i:e., my soul, the most honourable part of man. Rather, 'my tongue,' as it is explained by the apostle, in accordance with the Septuagint, Acts 2:26. So Psalms 30:12, margin; 57:8; 108:1. The tongue is the glory of man above the brutes; it is the soul's interpreter, whence it derives its "glory." It is also the instrument of glorifying God, which is man's highest glory. David not only exults internally, but makes his tongue and flesh also partakers of his joy.

My flesh also shall rest in hope - rather, 'shall dwell [ yishkon (H7931)] in security,' or 'safety,' as the Hebrew [ laabeTach (H983)] is translated in Psalms 4:8. The English version, however, has a right idea; the Hebrew is derived from a root, to be confident [ baaTach (H983)]. Confidence is akin to hope. It is the Christian hope-not vague, but sure; God, its object, is true and faithful. That the phrase, 'my flesh shall dwell in confident security,' refers in the ulterior sense to Messiah's body resting secure in the grave, appears from Isaiah 26:19; Acts 2:26. Hengstenberg denies that "flesh" is used of the soulless body, and says it means only the living body. But the phrase may probably be used in the case of Christ, as His body, though the soul was severed from it at death, yet remained like a living body, exempt from corruption. In the primary and imperfect sense in which David, as the type, used the words, he may have intended only to express his confident hope of deliverance from his imminent dangers. Thus, "the pains of hell" (Sheol or Hades) are used of the greatest straits, in Psalms 116:3; or his hope that he should not be given over to ruin (cf. the use of hell, Matthew 11:23); and that he, as a saint of God, should not see corruption, or destruction (as the same Hebrew is translated, Psalms 107:20), or the pit (Ezekiel 19:4, Hebrew). But the Spirit, by him (1 Peter 1:10-12), used language which has its full and mainly designed accomplishment only in Christ's resurrection from the grave and ascension to heaven, and in the resurrection and ascension of all believers hereafter through Him (Romans 8:19).

Verse 10

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell - not the place of torment; nor, on the other hand, merely the grave, which is not referred to until the next clause; but the unseen world of disembodied souls: the Hebrew Sheol, the Greek Hades.

Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The authority of Paul and Peter (Acts 2:25-27; Acts 13:35-37) is decisive for preferring the reading singular [ chaciydªkaa (H2623)], 'thy Holy One,' to the plural [ chaciydeeyk (H2623)], 'thy Holy ones.' '156 manuscript 2 pr. K.; 107 manuscript 6 pr. 52 Edd. R.; Septuagint, Syriac, Ethiopic, Chaldaic, Vulgate, Arabic, Jerome, Talmud, Babylonian, read singular, 'thy Holy One' (DeBurgh). Internal evidence also favours the Qeri', 'thy Holy One,' for the singular is used throughout the Psalm, 'my soul, my glory, my flesh, me' (Psalms 16:9-11). The Jews' opposition to the Messianic interpretation probably originated the plural. Contrast with God's Holy One not seeing corruption (which, according to Peter's reasoning, cannot apply in its main sense to David, but only to the Divine Son of David) the common lot of all others (Job 17:14; Psalms 49:7-9). Chaciyd (H2623), literally, one in God's favour; so God's only-beloved Son, in whom all the fullness of God's grace, or favour, dwells (John 1:14; John 1:16). Qodesh (H6944) is the strict Hebrew word for "holy."

Verse 11

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thou wilt show me the path of life - i:e., the path to life; Hebrew, lives. As in Psalms 16:10 his deliverance was described negatively-namely, from Hades and corruption-so here positively, life, joy, pleasures for evermore.'

In thy presence is fullness of joy - literally, joy with thy countenance [ 'et (H853) paaneykaa (H6440)]; as in Psalms 21:6, "Thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance" (cf. Psalms 4:6).

At thy right hand - `through thy right hand' [ biymiynªkaa (H3225)], as in Psalms 17:7; 'thou that savest by thy right hand' (Hengstenberg). So the Lord Jesus, to whom the reference is here, was "by the right hand of God exalted" (Acts 2:33). The English version accords with Psalms 110:1. So the Chaldaic, Septuagint, Vulgate, and Arabic. The right hand is the place of honour. As the Lord our Head, so the Church, the body and the queen, shall be at His right hand (Psalms 45:9; Matthew 25:33-34). As He is now 'at the saint's right hand' (Psalms 16:8), so shall the saint be "at His right hand" hereafter.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.