The human mortality rate is 100%. Every last one of us will die one day. But Psalm 16 says that that is not the last word on us. Psalm 16 says that there is hope of resurrection for all of us through Jesus.
Everyone prays at the holidays. We pray when we ask one another for presents! A prayer is simply a request, asking for something I can’t get on my own. Psalm 16:1 is King David’s request: “Preserve me.” Just like God preserved Joseph and all his people through him (Genesis 45:7-8), David (and Jesus after him) could trust that God would preserve his people.
This psalm focuses on true joy, rooted in eternal things. Temporary things can give happiness in the moment; only eternal things can give true and lasting joy. This Psalm finds the God of joy in 1) Suffering (Psalm 16:2); 2) Community (Psalm 16:3); 3) Material blessing (Psalm 16:5-6); and 4) Wisdom (Psalm 16:7-8). None of these things give true joy. All of them point the way to the God of joy.
The first Christian sermon ever preached (by the Apostle Peter) quoted this psalm to show that the Old Testament predicted that Christ Jesus would rise again from the dead (Acts 2:23-32). Things in this world can show us God, but they aren’t the path to God. No, the “path to life” (Psalm 16:11) is Jesus himself, who came to earth at the first Christmas, who died for our sins, and who rose again from the dead to give us life eternal.
Reflection & Application Questions
What do you usually pray for? Why? How do your prayers compare to this Psalm?
What is your refuge, the place or person or thing you go for safety and security? Is it God? When was a time you went to him for refuge?
How does suffering point the way to God and his joy? How do people in your life point to God and his joy? How do material blessings? How does wisdom point to him?
Why doesn’t that path to God begin with us? Where does the path to God start? Why?
What would it mean if God “abandoned” Jesus’s “soul to Sheol” (v.10)? What hope do we get from knowing that he didn’t?
In what way is Jesus the “path to life” (Ps. 16:11)? What are the “pleasures forevermore” at God’s right hand (v.11)? Knowing that, how should we live?