Our Refuge and Our Joy, Now and Forever - Psalm 16

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It’s no secret that all of us are joy-seekers. We want to be content, to be satisfied, to feel secure, to feel protected - and under all of this is our desire for joy.

As we come to Psalm 16 David is asking God to be his protector as he takes refuge in Him. But while David begins with this request the rest of the Psalm is made up of David expressing why he trusts God as his refuge. 

Psalm Summary: David is confident that as he takes refuge in God he will experience total satisfaction and the fullness of joy both now and forever.

David’s Prayer: Preserve me, for I take refuge in You (16:1)

  • David’s request is short, but it’s substantial. David asks for God to keep him, protect him or guard him. He’s asking to be kept safe and secure. 

David’s Trust in God for the Present (16:2-8)

  • David’s Pledge: He is committed to God alone (16:2-4)
  • God is his source of ultimate satisfaction (16:2) – David is fully committed to God and takes refuge in Him. The reason for his unwavering allegiance is that he is fully satisfied in God alone.
  • Application: There are many places we can go to try and find contentment and joy, but there is only one source that will never fail us.  Only in God can we find true and everlasting satisfaction and joy (Philippians 3:7–8; Psalm 73:25-26). 
  • The people of God are his delight (16:3) - David is satisfied in God alone, and as an extension he delights in other people who also have joy in God.
  • Application: As the people of God we should feel a sense of delight in the relationships that we have with other believers. There’s no greater commonality than what we share with others who have also experienced joy in God (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
  • He will not worship any other gods (16:4) – While many people were choosing to follow other gods David remained committed to worshipping God alone.
  • Application: We all worship something or someone. We must constantly ask ourselves, who or what am I really worshipping?
  • David’s Praise: God is everything he needs (16:5-8)
  • David praises the Lord as his portion (16:5-6) – Using the imagery of an inheritance of land David again expresses his contentment in God – God is his portion and for him this is a beautiful inheritance (Numbers 18:20).
  • David praises the Lord as his counselor (16:7) - For David there was only one true source of wisdom, his counsel was from the Lord.
  • Application: As the people of God we have been given the Word of God as our source of all wisdom and should look to it as our guide. His Word is His counsel to us (Psalm 1:1–4; Psalm 119:97–105).
  • David praises the Lord as his protector (16:8)David began the psalm asking for protection and he trusts that God will be his good and faithful protector (guarding him at his right hand).

David’s Trust in God for the Future (16:9-11) 

  • David finds joy in trusting God with his life (16:9-11a) - David is full of joy because he knows that he can rest in God and trust him with his life. Even in death David trusts that God will be his protector. 
  • David finds joy in the presence of God, both now and forever (16:11) - John Piper – Fullness of joy and eternal joy cannot be improved. Nothing is fuller than full, and nothing is longer than eternal. And this joy is owing to the presence of God . . . Therefore, if God wants to love us infinitely and delight us fully and eternally, he must preserve us for the one thing that will satisfy us totally and eternally; namely the presence and worth of His own glory.

Our Present and Eternal Refuge is Available Only Through Jesus

  • While we read Psalm 16 as a Psalm of David, Peter and Paul provide another layer to our understanding of the Psalm. Both Peter and Paul reveal that Psalm 16 is a Psalm of Jesus: He is the one who did not experience decay and He is the one who has been given full joy and eternal pleasures (Acts 2:22–36; 13:26–39).
  • How then do we reconcile our initial understanding of the Psalm as a Psalm of David with the teaching of Peter and Paul? Here is the reality: It is because of the work of Jesus (because He did not experience decay) that we too can be given life. Because Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and was raised from the dead, we too can live now and forever (Rom. 6:4–5; 1 Cor. 15:20–23; 11:25–26).