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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 16

Verse 1

Psalms 16:0.

David, in distrust of merit, and hatred of idolatry, fleeth to God for preservation: he sheweth the hope of his calling, of the resurrection, and life everlasting.

Michtam of David.

Title. לדוד מכתם miktam ledavid: Michtam of David. David's sculpture. This title occurs before some other Psalms, and it is rendered constantly by the LXX, στηλογραφια, "an inscription for, or to be engraved on, a pillar." Houbigant translates it, arcanum, secret. It seems to mean, that those Psalms to which this word is prefixed are especially remarkable, and worthy of everlasting remembrance; worthy to be written in golden letters, and set up in some public place to teach; for so it is expressed Psalms 60:0.; that is, that the people might learn them, and be able to join. This Psalm, besides the admirable expressions of David's faith and confidence in God, when, as it is supposed, he was violently persecuted by Saul, contains a very remarkable prophecy concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, and particularly his resurrection from the dead. See the remarks on the title of Psalms 60:0.

Psalms 16:1. Preserve me, O God, &c.— The application which St. Peter makes of a great part of this Psalm to Jesus Christ, Act 2:25-31 obliges us to look upon it as a prophesy, wherein he himself is introduced as speaking to God the Father. These first words of the Psalm, Preserve me, O God, &c. briefly comprehend the prayer of Jesus Christ to his Father, related John 17:2; Joh 17:26 and that which he made to him in his agony, Matthew 26:39; Matthew 26:42; Mat 26:44 together with that great confidence in the love of God his Father, which he shewed even to his death; which made his enemies insultingly say to him on the cross, Let him deliver him now, if he will have him.

Verse 2

Psalms 16:2. O my soul, thou hast said, &c.— I have said unto the Lord. Houbigant. My goodness extendeth not to thee, means, as applied to Christ, that the services which he performed by his ministry, and the benefits which he procured by his sufferings, did not, properly speaking, make any addition of happiness or glory to God; because, being infinitely perfect in himself, his glory cannot be increased by any services that are paid him. The saints and excellent mentioned in the next verse, mean the faithful in general, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. See 1 Corinthians 1:2. John 17.

Verse 4

Psalms 16:4. Their sorrows, &c.— This verse is put in opposition to the foregoing one; and intimates, that the lot of the persons here mentioned shall be very different from that of the saints, who are the objects of his love. In the words, shall be multiplied, we may suppose our blessed Saviour to comprehend all the calamities which befel the Jews, for having rejected him, and for having desired another Messiah. And this expression, Their sorrows shall be multiplied, perfectly agrees with the condition wherein the Messiah found the Jews at his coming into the world: they had then for a considerable time been subject to the Roman yoke: but within a few years after, their sorrows were to be exceedingly multiplied, as a punishment to them for rejecting that true Messiah.

Hasten after another god The word god is not in the original; but added here, as most of the interpreters suppose that this text relates to idolaters: But here we may understand another Messiah: Our blessed Saviour seems by these words to have meant the Jews, who rejected him, and expected a Messiah very different from him, such as should come in worldly pomp, and establish a temporal kingdom among them. By their drink offerings, &c. in the next clause is meant, that the sacrifices which the Jews made to God of the blood of beasts, should be no more accepted, and that he would no longer have regard to the oblations of that unbelieving people. The latter words, take up their names, &c. may signify two things: 1. That this rebellious and obstinate people, for whom Jesus Christ had interested himself with so much love, was going to be thenceforth the object of his aversion; as the Jews testified their abomination of certain unclean hearts, by avoiding to mention them by their names. And, 2. That Jesus Christ would no longer pray unto God for them, as a nation.

Verse 5

Psalms 16:5. The Lord is the portion, &c.— See the note on Psalms 11:6. Thou maintainest my lot, means that God had preserved for him the glory to which he was to be exalted in the quality of Messiah. See Psalms 2:8. Lot is here put for heritage, in allusion to the division which was made of the land of Canaan by lot. The same allusion is carried on in the next verse; where lines signify the lot or tract of land which it was anciently the custom to divide by lines. The goodly heritage was, first, the glory to which he was advanced by his ascension; and, secondly, the establishment of his kingdom throughout the world.

Verse 7

Psalms 16:7. My reins also instruct me By reins is meant the secret thoughts and inward reflections of the mind; in the same manner as the heart is often mentioned to express the hidden purposes and desires of the soul. See Psalms 7:10; Psalms 26:2.Jeremiah 12:2; Jeremiah 12:2.Revelation 2:23; Revelation 2:23.

Verse 8

Psalms 16:8. Before me That is, he always had a regard to his Father's will, without swerving from it in any respect (See John 17:4.); and, consequently, was always assured of the assistance of God, and of the faithfulness of his promises. At my right hand, is a figurative expression, signifying the efficacious succour of God in favour of his people. See Psalms 73:23; Psalms 109:31; Psalms 109:31.

Verse 9

Psalms 16:9. My glory That is, his tongue, as St. Peter explains it, Acts 2:26.; for the Hebrews give the tongue the name of glory, as Psalms 57:0 because it was bestowed upon us to glorify God; and because it is our glory, as being the instrument of expressing our thoughts by words. My flesh shall rest in hope, means, "My body shall rest in the grave; with an assurance that it shall soon come forth from thence by a happy resurrection."

Verse 10

Psalms 16:10. Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, &c.— In שׁאול Sheol, the place of departed souls. See the note on Psalms 9:17. Bishop Pearson on the Creed, and Peters on Job, p. 320. Thine Holy One, means "Him whom thou hast sanctified and consecrated to be the Messiah, (John 10:36. Isaiah 54:5.) and who hath exactly observed whatever in that quality thou hast committed to his charge." Thou wilt shew me the path of life, in the next verse, signifies, "Thou wilt raise me on the third day, in order to exalt me to thine everlasting kingdom." It may be thought an omission in us, not to observe, that in our printed Hebrew copies the word rendered Holy One is plural, חסידיךֶ chasidika: But the best expositor of the text, St. Peter, renders it in the singular, Acts 2:27; Act 13:35 as several manuscripts read it in the singular; and the Masoretes themselves have ordered it to be so read. However, as much has been said upon the subject, by the Doctors Kennicott, Rutherford, &c. we beg leave to refer our readers to them.


1. This psalm opens with the prayer of faith. Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust; as David professes to do, in opposition to all his enemies; and as the Lord Jesus did, when in the days of his flesh he offered up supplications and prayers, and was heard, in that he feared, and trusted in God, Hebrews 5:7. Note; The prayer of faith is ever effectual.

2. He solemnly devotes himself to God. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord; and therefore, as such, there was a sure foundation for faith: as our God, we may ever safely trust him with all the concerns of body and soul. This may be well applied to the Redeemer; who, as possessing a human soul, as well as flesh, is in that respect inferior to the Father; and therefore, as Mediator, avouches the Lord for his God.

3. He expresses his humble sense of his own goodness; it extendeth not to thee, to make God his debtor, or to add to his happiness; but to the saints that are in the earth, who felt the exercise of it; and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight; and, therefore, I am desirous to serve them in every good word and work. Of Christ this may also be said, whose obedience and sufferings, however infinitely extensive in their blessed influence on the sons of men, added nothing to the self-sufficient God, to whom the righteousness of his Son brought no gain; nor could our everlasting ruin have occasioned any loss. And though, in the mediatorial transactions, there is a glorious display made of the wisdom, grace, and righteousness of God; yet, had they never appeared in this way, they would, notwithstanding, have eternally existed the same in him; the good-will is wholly to us, whom his grace sanctifies, and in whom he is pleased to express his delight.

4. He cleaves to God as his happy and enduring portion. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup: his love is my richest treasure, his favour my sweetest enjoyment. Thou maintainest my lot, makest it abiding, so that the world cannot take it away. Which is also most applicable to the Redeemer, whose meat and drink it was to do the Father's will; happy in constant communion with him, and able to bring to eternal glory his faithful people, in whom he should be everlastingly satisfied. Note; (1.) The love of God is the best portion; compared with that, all things beside are dung and loss. (2.) They who live by faith, find consolations in their cup more cheering than wine. (3.) The present comfort that God bestows, is an earnest of the everlasting bliss which he has in store for the faithful.

5. He ascribes the praise of all to God. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel, to choose this happy portion; my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. His inmost thoughts, under the Divine influence, when on his bed, muse upon God; both instructing him in the blessing that he possessed, and the obligations thence arising to love and serve so gracious a master: on Jesus the Spirit of Counsel (Isaiah 11:2.) rested, and whole nights he spent in meditation and prayer to God. May the same Spirit of wisdom and counsel rest on my soul; and, taught by this, day and night may I be led in the way which the Lord would have me to go!

2nd, If it be asked concerning this psalm, as the eunuch did on another occasion, of whom speaketh the prophet this, of himself, or of some other man? we have an express answer, Acts 2:25; Act 2:47 where the last four verses are particularly applied to our divine Redeemer. These verses,

1. Express his confidence in God, and the support derived from him to go through the arduous talk assigned him; I have set the Lord always before me; his power and faithfulness: because he is at my right hand to strengthen me, I shall not be moved, notwithstanding all the snares of my enemies, the torments before me, at which humanity shudders, and the pains of hell which seize my soul, while my body agonizes on the tree. Though Jesus prayed that the cup might pass from him, he was content to drink it, and triumphantly cried, "It is finished," when he gave up the ghost.

2. They declare his joy in the God of his salvation, under the most dark and dismal dispensation; when his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and his body laid low in the grave, there was reviving hope in the end; therefore my heart is glad, and my glory (my tongue, Acts 2:26.) rejoiceth in hope, in sure and certain hope of God's glory being displayed, and his faithful people's salvation accomplished by these sufferings in their stead. My flesh also shall rest in hope, even when my body is lying in the dust, and my enemies triumphant, as if they had completed their conquest; still I shall rest, and find the clods of the valley sweet unto me, in expectation of the glory which shall follow. Two chief causes of this joy are here assigned. [1.] His victory over death by a speedy and glorious resurrection. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The body of Christ being pure as his soul, and joined inseparably with the divine person of the Son, was a holy thing; nor was it suffered, as our sinful bodies, to putrify in the dust; for, on the morning of the third day, he broke the bands of death, by which it was impossible that he should be holden, and rose the conqueror of death and hell, to the confusion of his amazed foes, and to the comfort of his dejected disciples. [2.] His ascension into heaven, and reigning in glory everlasting. Thou wilt shew me the path of life; not only raise me from death temporal, but exalt me also to life eternal: that life in glory, where in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Consolations unutterable, and dignity transcendent, reward the sufferings of the glorified Jesus. Note; (1.) Where Jesus found support in his sufferings, there may we also; for every member of his body mystical can say, Thy God is my God. (2.) When we are putting off our bodies in the dust, the resurrection of Jesus is the support and comfort of the dying believer; for if we have been planted with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: and as members of his body, because he lives, we shall live also. (3.) The lively prospects of approaching glory may well make us sit loose to all the joys of sense, and reconcile us to all the sufferings that we may be called unto: our light afflictions are but for a moment; but a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory approaches: earthly joys are poor and transitory; but the pleasures at God's right hand are pure without alloy, and perpetual as the everlasting spring from whence they flow. Be these my happy portion!

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.