Psalm 16 (ESV)
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land,
They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
Or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
In the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
My flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
Or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
It’s a beautiful psalm. While so many of the psalms reflect trouble or uncertainty in the lives of the psalmists, this one has none of that. There is an awareness here—and it’s one we all acknowledge in our world—that people exist who do not follow God. But this psalmist does not seem to feel threatened by them; instead, he is happy and content.
When we look back across the months that have brought this year to an end, we will likely find a year full of ups and downs, victories and failures, and a whole lot of remaining uncertainties. We surely had days that would have inspired a psalm quite different than this one. We want the serenity this psalmist felt, but we don’t want to oversimplify the complexities of life. We don’t want to ignore the pain of those who don’t feel glad and joyful and fully at ease. And yet, our faith won’t let us deny that we are counseled and upheld by a God who makes joy possible.
Some might read this psalm and say, “All you have to do is take refuge in the Lord, forsake all other gods, and then you can feel this kind of joy and security, too.” That is certainly a possibility, but it is not a automatically-generated reality. We should follow God and forsake all idols, but that doesn’t guarantee that life will suddenly transform into the picture of tranquility this psalmist experienced. Men and women of faith too many to number have realized that trouble comes to us all, but God’s grace is enough for us. In the face of disappointment and loss, we affirm that God is still good. In times of sickness and temptation, every good thing we have still comes from God who loves us. When all hope seems to be gone and pleasure is nothing but a fading memory, our God still reigns. His promises are true. He is faithful forever. Night lasts for a moment, but an eternal sun will soon break forth. And then there will be joy.
God is good…
For more meditations on the Psalms, click here.