GETTING THE MESSAGE/Fullness of joy in Christ
Christians commemorated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ this past Sunday. Christians believe that the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ into heaven accomplished reconciliation and life with God to all who believe in Christ and come to Him. Psalm 16 is about the life of a redeemed servant of God, a man after God’s own heart.
In verses 1 and 2, the servant finds his provision in God: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” God made all things and holds all things together. We don’t exist on our own, neither can we preserve ourselves. David is full of gratitude toward the Lord: “I have no good apart from you” (verse 2).
Ingratitude and autonomy are two root sins of sinful man. Men are not thankful to God, neither do they submit to God. Rather, they are a god to themselves, and that can lead to all manner of evil. When a soul is redeemed by Christ, he has God as his Father, and God becomes the object of his trust and confidence. He sees the Lord’s hand in his life day by day.
In verses 3, the servant finds his delight in the people of God. David contrasts the saints of the Lord (his delight) with those who chase after other gods. There are a multitude of other gods men serve. Those might be self-righteousness, self-gratification, worldly pleasures, wealth; in whatever form it appears, other gods have dominion over them. Those who serve other gods “multiply their sorrows” (verse 4).
The saints or holy ones of God have turned from other gods to the Lord, the living God. They have been redeemed from idolatry and ungodliness. They are distinct in the eyes of the Lord from the rest of mankind. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.” Christians are to delight in the church and the people of God. The church is to be a priority to them, in its worship and work. To be called a “Christian” means to desire to serve Christ. Christians acknowledge they need a Savior, so Christ is precious to them and so are His people.
In verse 5, the servant finds his “portion” in the Lord. Portion means his chief good and pleasure. Every man has something for his portion. When David considers that the Lord is his portion, he concludes, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (verse 6). He knows that providential grace has brought him to that place.
It’s a wonderful thing to be able to walk outside, gaze at the stars, and know that the God who holds all those together and knows each by name, knows me and has put Divine life in my soul, delivered me from sin and death, and reserved for me a place with Him forever. No wonder David says, “Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (verse 6). His inheritance is the Lord. This is the greatest blessedness, which Christ said shall not be taken from his servants.
In verse 7, the servant finds his wisdom in the Lord: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel.” David means God’s written word. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We are lost and will remain lost without His word, His counsel. He tells us how to get to God: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Blessed are you if believe the words of the Lord and honor them in your life.
In verses 9 and 10, the servant finds his salvation in God. David is confident that when he dies, the Lord will not abandon his soul. David as a prophet is writing about the greater servant of the Lord, Christ Jesus, who will take the corruption of sin upon himself. Peter, in Acts 2, refers to these verses as speaking of the resurrection of Jesus and the salvation of souls God accomplished in it.
People understand that they can’t save themselves from death. Death is a solemn reality. The gospel teaches that we can’t save our souls either. Only Christ can do that. His resurrection proves the necessity of belonging to Him. But it also proves how glorious and suitable He is as Savior.
In verse 11, the servant finds his eternal joy in God. It was a well spent journey following the Lord, committing your way unto Him. David says, “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” No one who seeks the Lord will find his life was in vain. Rather, he will find “fullness of joy.”
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.