Praying the Psalms: Psalm 16

Do you trust in the Lord? Is your contentment and joy so found in God that regardless of what happens in this life you have an unabashed confidence in Christ, your treasure? We tend to be unhappy people. We complain about our the quality of our home, the number on our paycheck, or the unexpected and frustrating events that happen to us. We tend to always want more from this world and we become angry when God does not give it to us. David gives us a radically different perspective in Psalm 16. This psalm is a prayer of contentment, joy, and trust in God alone. As we study this prayer, may God gives us this sort of attitude in our prayers and in our life. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-2 - The Psalm begins with a cry of trust. “Preserve me!”, the psalmist cries. The Lord is his refuge. God is the one in whom all his trust lies. Whatever crisis we face, we must display an unrelenting trust in God, because he is our Lord. David recognizes that any good in his life comes directly from God himself. “I have no good apart from you” (v. 2).

We are quick to take credit for the good things that happen to us. We tend to praise ourselves for any good thing that happens to us, and blame God for any wrong. So when we get that promotion at work, we will praise our own handwork and dedication. We pat ourselves on our back and praise our accomplishment. Yet, David understands that any good in his life was not achieved by his own might, but by the gracious gifting of God. Apart from the loving and providential hand of God we would posses nothing good in life. All of it is from him.

We would be wise like David, to recognize God’s sovereign rule over our lives knowing that he rules it all. Because of his divine power over this world and over our personal lives, it is fitting to place our trust in him. He is an excellent refuge, fortified and strong.

v. 3-4 - David then goes on to describe his delight to be around the people of God. He delights in the saints of the land, the people of Israel. It is a joy to be around the Lord’s beloved. Yet, for those who run after false gods and idols, the psalmist does not participate in their pagan worship. He refuses to participate in idolatry.

David’ prefers to surround himself with the people of God. Though we must be careful not to live in a holy bubble as a church, we too should long to surround ourselves with God’s people. When we gather together for prayer, for worship, or for communion, the community of saints produces joy. We should delight in one another, because we delight in the holiness of God. In our lives we should seek active participation in the holy community and not participate in the false worship of a secular culture. David’s trust in God is proven by his delight in God’s people.

v. 5-6 - “You hold my lot.” God holds our very life in his hands. In verse 5 and 6, David expresses a contentment in his life, knowing that the Lord is in control. His lot is in his hands. God is so sovereign that he causes the dice to land. Sometimes life seem so random and chaotic, doesn’t it? But, David understands, and so should we, that God is the one who causes the lines to fall in our lives. Every door that is shut in our face or every door that is opened—all of it is decided by God himself. For David this is comforting and it gives him a robust contentment. Because his lot is decided by God, it allows him to be truly joyous with where God has him. He is not asking the “what if” question in the back of his mind. Rather, he sees his life and where he is as God’s will for him, and as he thinks about how God has directed his life he concludes that he has received a “beautiful inheritance”. Though David’s life was far from perfect, and though we too can have some rough areas of difficulty, we have been blessed far beyond what we deserve. The good in our life—from listening to the laughter of our children to sipping a warm cup of coffee on a cool summer morning—all of this is God’s beautiful inheritance towards us. Rather than cursing God for what isn’t, we should praise God for what he has given. When we begin to understand that the only thing we deserve is death, we begin to look at our life through the lens of gratitude to God. Then and only then, will God begin to give us a supernatural contentment as we stand in awe of God’s gracious provision for us.

[Tweet "When we begin to understand that the only thing we deserve is death, we begin to look at our life through the lens of gratitude to God."]

v. 7-8 - David’s trust in God gives him comfort and confidence. He receives comfort as the Lord gives him counsel. God instructs him and teaches him. The Lord is always before him and guiding him. The Lord isn’t absent from his life but very present. He is at his right hand. Therefore the comfort of his presence leads to confidence.

One of the most comforting promises in all of Scripture is the comfort of God’s presence in our life. Knowing that God is with us and that he does not abandon us, gives us a ferocious courage when life’s challenges begin to pile up into a mountainous wall. Our comfort and confidence is found in the Lord.

v. 9-10 - What is the result of this comfort and confidence in the Lord? Deeply satisfying gladness and joy. Like a fountain that runs over is the joy of our hearts when we trust in the Lord. We receive joy, because we know that regardless of the lot we have been given, that our flesh dwells secure. There is no need to fear whatever suffering, persecution, or martyrdom awaits us. When we have this sort of unwavering confidence in God’s rule over our life, it fills our hearts with joy. Whether we are thrown in a dark jail cell for preaching Christ in a closed country or whether we are beheaded by ISIS for following Jesus, for the Christian joy abounds. Because, when we put our trust in God, our flesh is secure though we may lose our own heads for his glory.

How can this be? Well it is through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! The apostle Paul in his sermon in Acts 13:35 references Psalm 16:10 as evidence pointing to the resurrection of Christ. It is written, “You will not let your holy one see corruption”. Jesus Christ experienced the horrors and death of the crucifixion. It is there that his flesh was nailed and his blood poured out. Even still, Jesus went to the cross with joy accepting the lot that God had given him. Though, God does not allow his holy one to see corruption. Jesus paid the price for our sins and absorbed the excruciating torment of the crucifixion, and it was God who raised him from the dead. God did not abandon his son to Sheol, but raised him from the grave on the third day!

For the Christian, who has trusted in Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, we have this same hope. Because of Jesus, God will not abandon our soul to Sheol. Death has lost its power. It is a defeated foe. Therefore, regardless of what believers face in this life whether filled with worldly blessings or whether filled with thistles and thorns, there is still unceasing joy for the Christian. The joy of the Christian is not found in our circumstances but found in God himself. Because God comforts us with his presence it gives us confidence knowing, that whatever our lot may be, it is well with our soul, because our life is found in the resurrected glory of Jesus Christ. Though we may lose our heads, our flesh dwells secure in Christ. Therefore our hearts are glad and rejoice in the unshakeable confidence and hope we have in the resurrection of Christ!

v. 11 - The conclusion of this Psalm is filled with joy. God has made known to us the path to true life, a life of joy and contentment. The path to truly living is not found in hedonistic pleasure or materialistic wealth of the world, but in the hedonistic wealth of the pleasure of God’s presence. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasure for evermore” (v. 11). God by his great grace and mercy, through Jesus, brings us into the fullness of joy in his presence. When we live with Jesus as our all consuming treasure, he is the satisfaction for which we long. He is the oasis of rest. He is the pearl of great price. Praise be to God that in Christ we receive the fullness of joy. May we trust in Christ by faith to receive this great salvation purchased for us, and in our Christian life may we display such trust in God—that regardless of our present circumstances—that the fullness of joy in God would dwell within our hearts. For we know, that God will not let his holy ones, sanctified by the blood of Christ, see the corruption of hell. He will not abandon us in death. But, at the moment of our last breath we will experience the totality of the fullness of joy as we stand in the satisfying and glorious presence of God as we enjoy the pleasure at his right hand forevermore.

Prayer Guide

  • Are you trusting in God in whatever you are facing? Ask God to help you trust in him as your refuge?
  • Do you delight in God’s holy people? Ask God to give you a joy in the community of the saints.
  • Thank God for the “beautiful inheritance” he has given you. Praise him, knowing that apart from him, you would possess no good in this life.
  • Express thankfulness for the comfort of his presence and the confidence you possess knowing that he is at your right hand.
  • Thank the Lord for Christ, who by his resurrected glory gifts us with a gladness that fills up our whole being.
  • Ask the Lord to give you a trust and contentment with Christ as your treasure.
  • Praise the Lord that through Jesus he brings you into his divine presence where your joy is full and infinity satisfying.

Millenial Angst: Adele, Getting Older, and Discontentment

Adele captures the consciousness of the millennial generation better than any other musical artist. Her latest album 25 reflects on themes of growing up, as her twenties fade and a new decade begins. As I've been listening to Adele's latest album, perhaps my favorite song is When We Were Young. She sings,

Let me photograph you in this light In case it is the last time That we might be exactly like we were Before we realized We were sad of getting old It made us restless I'm so mad I'm getting old It makes me reckless

As more millennials enter into their late twenties and early thirties they are bombarded by restlessness. We're getting older. Our twenties dawned with roaring optimism, filled with idealistic dreams of love and success, yet as the years wane that bitter reality has turned that roaring optimism into a reckless restlessness. Life did not end up the way we thought it would or rolled out the way that we planned. The last few years left us only with broken hearts and crushed dreams.

Depressed_4649749639

Back during our freshmen year of college, we were brimming with hope. The world was our oyster, filled with endless possibilities. The idea of independence, freedom, and adulthood seemed like a dream too good to be true. We longed to grow up, but as we entered into adulthood we’ve discovered it rather mundane. Our lives have become rather monotonous: we wake up, go to work, parent toddlers, watch Netflix, and go to bed early. Rinse and repeat. The exhaustion of this never-ending routine leaves many longing for something more. The millennial angst and disillusionment leaves us scratching our heads and picking up our hearts, wondering if there might be anything to provide meaning and purpose to our daily lives.

It is in this angst, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ enters into our restlessness and balms our burning hearts with his grace. Only Christ gives meaning to the mundane,  joy to the broken hearted, and hope for those in a quarter-life-crises. Though our lives may not have panned out as we hoped, Jesus gives purpose to our disappointments. Perhaps we have not advanced to where we want to be in our career or have yet to find our perfect spouse. Even still, Jesus gives something that we millennials desperately need: contentment.

It is no secret that millennials are not a very religious bunch. Yet, I believe that as more and more millennials enter into their child-rearing years, our discontentment will grow for something more. I pray that the disillusionment that so many feel will morph into a spiritual brokenness. The puritan Jeremiah Burroughs highlights this truth in his work The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,

God has broken your estate; Oh seek to him for the breaking of your heart likewise. Indeed, a broken estate and a whole heart, a hard heart, will not join together; there will be no contentment. But a broken estate and a broken heart will so suite one another, as that there will be more contentment than there was before.

So brokenness is the first step to true contentment. Millennial angst could very well give way to a spiritual revival among this generation. When we finally realize that the promises of advertisers are just a sham and that living for yourself only brings disappointment, then and only then can we find refreshment in the fount of Christ. He is the only source of lasting contentment.

[Tweet "Millennial angst could very well give way to a spiritual revival among this generation."]

Burroughs goes on to say in the same book,

It is not by having his own desires satisfied, but by melting his way and desires into God's will. So that, in one sense, he comes to have his desires satisfied though he does not obtain the thing that he desired before; still he comes to be satisfied with this, because he makes his will to be at one with God's will.

As the idealistic plans of so many millennials melt away, I pray they will surrender their wills to God. As our wistful dreams crack and decay into the reality in which we live, may we freely give up our life and find true life, true contentment in Jesus himself. As Jesus said,“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:25).