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Psalm 16: Perhaps the Greatest Counsel on Earth Today

 August 2010 

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When Christians share with me their problems, I am increasingly encouraging them to memorize Psalm 16. This Psalm of David contains, in my opinion, the reasons why we have problems and how to overcome them.

We live in very difficult times. It has been said that we live in an age dominated by the "gods" of materialism (the love of things), hedonism (the love of pleasure) and narcissism ( the love of self).

To put it simply: Jesus should be our greatest joy in life, but when we put any person or thing before Him, that person or thing becomes another "god" in our lives. This Psalm contains the key to overcoming these "gods."

Lets look at this Psalm:

v1: "Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge." We should always pray this, but at the same time be full of gratitude to Him no matter what afflictions He allows in our lives. We should believe, as the early Christians believed, that no matter whether we are killed or die of sickness we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

v2: "I said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.'" To tell the Lord that, apart from Him you have no good thing, is greatly honouring Him.

v3: "As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight." Like David we should take great delight in people who love the Lord.

v4: "The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods." Great sorrow comes to:

  • Christians who make a "god" out of their husband or wife by trying to get their self esteem from their partner rather than dying to self and making Jesus their greatest joy.

  • Christians who live a luxurious lifestyle rather than putting into Christ's brothers and sisters around the world who are poverty stricken.

  • Christians who try to get their self-worth from things like an important career or sport rather than getting their self-worth from Jesus.

  • Christians who put the pleasures of this world ahead of the pleasures that God gives.

All these "gods" that we put ahead of the true God always, eventually, bring great sorrow into our lives.

v4b: "I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips." David refused to take part in blood sacrifices to other gods and give them any honour at all. The name of Jesus should constantly be on our lips, because we are full of gratitude to Him for pouring out His blood for us.

v5 & 6: "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely, I have a delightful inheritance." It doesn't matter what our situation is - whether we are poverty stricken, suffering great persecution or are in terrible health and terminally ill, we should still be able to say, "Lord, You have been so good to me, I thank You."

We should continually be grateful for where we live and the amazing inheritance of Heaven, in the presence of Jesus, that will be ours one day.

v7 "I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me." I am nearly 62 years of age and I often wake up in the night (Apparently this happens when you get older). Years ago, if I ever woke up, I would start to worry about all the problems I was facing. Now when I wake up I go over memorized Scriptures and many godly things come to my mind. What's in my heart instructs me.

v8 "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." When we set the Lord before us we are building our lives on the Rock and when the storms of life come we will not be shaken.

v9,10 "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." This was a prophecy about Jesus coming alive again. See Acts 2:27.

When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and repent of them we begin to walk with God. We become Jesus' brothers and sisters and start to live a holy life. We too, will not be abandoned to the grave. In 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul said that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of all of those who have fallen asleep.

v11 "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." David's Psalm finishes on a very high note. To think that we can be filled with joy in His presence despite any afflictions or trials we have. And to think that at God's right hand we will have pleasures for all eternity.

Conclusion: This Psalm has been very powerful in my own life. When I was in Sunday School I learnt verse 11 by listening to a serial story where this verse was the theme of the whole story. I used to think it would be wonderful to be filled with joy in God's presence, but I didn't really think it was possible.

At around 50 years of age I memorised the whole Psalm. As I went on my daily walk, memorising Scripture, verse 4a would often challenge me. I would think of the sorrow that had come into my life over the years through running after other "gods." I have often taken steps to put aside other "gods" to make Jesus my greatest joy.

I would counsel all the readers of this newsletter to memorize Psalm 16. It could be the most wonderful counsel you ever receive. Encourage your hurting friends and family to also memorize it.

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