Psalm 16 – Pleasures Forever

by Timothy Shorey

“Who is Psalm 16 about? We are not left to human interpreters for the key to this golden mystery, for, speaking by the Holy Ghost, Peter tells us, ‘David speaks concerning him’ (Acts 2:25.) Further on…he said, ‘Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to… raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.’ (Acts 2:29-31.) [T]he apostle Paul… [also] testifies that David wrote [in Psalm 16] of the man through whom is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 13:35-38)… [C]ommentators apply the psalm to David, to the saints, and to the Lord Jesus, but we will venture to believe that in it ‘Christ is all’…like the apostles on the mount, we can see ‘no man but Jesus only’. (C.H. Spurgeon)

Cardiphonia: *We cannot tell for sure whether Mr. Spurgeon is right in saying that this whole psalm is only about Christ—for there are likely applications to David and to us all. But I would not quibble with the Prince of Preachers. Psalm 16 is about Jesus, and some parts of it are emphatically just about Jesus—as the witness of two apostles makes clear (Peter in Acts 2:24-36 and Paul in Acts 13:32-38). Both apostles argue that Psalm 16:9-11 cannot speak of David, or anyone else for that matter. It has to speak of Jesus because the body of everyone else who has ever died has decayed; the very thing the psalmist—with prophetic voice—says would not happen to Christ. I wonder if it might have been this psalm that strengthened Jesus’ heart in the Garden to do the Father’s will. Or might it have been in his heart on the way to Calvary: “Father, though I am about to die, my flesh will dwell secure. You will not abandon my soul or body to decay. Soon, I will be full of joy in your presence forevermore.” Was this assurance of his own resurrection a part of the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2) that enabled him to endure the cross? I believe it was.

* A word coined by and borrowed from John Newton (meaning “sounds of the heart”). The Cardiphonia comments in the Shorey Psalter are my personal reflections on the Psalm.

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