Preserve Me, O God Psalm 16:1-11
We live in a day and age in which we are convinced we do not need a refuge or a crutch. Some think talking about refuges and crutches are an escape from life. Remember the author of our Psalm here is David. No one could reasonably say that David was an escapist. He did not hide from life. But because he knew how to hide in God he knew how to take on life itself. We must listen as David teaches us about making God our refuge and the blessing that flow from God.
“Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.” (Verse 1) David made a commitment to hide himself in God. In some Psalms like Psalm 91 it appears taking refuge in God is equivalent to dwelling or remaining in God. For example, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)
What does dwelling in God or finding Refuge in Him look like? David describes it for us in verses 2-4. First, seeking refuge in the living God is finding our everything in the ever faithful LORD. “I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.’”
There are two names for God here. Yahweh is the all faithful promise keeping God and Adonai is our Master and Lord. In this God is David’s everything. He has other goods but nothing equates to God. The one who is hiding in God is making God the center and the most important person in his or her life. Psalm 73:25 says it this way, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.”
Taking refuge in the living God also means we love God’s people. “As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.” David does not imply that these folks are all perfect. They are not. Still, one thing a good relationship with God causes is for us to love His people. We learned this in 1 John.
Finally, making God our dwelling place means turning away from false gods (verse 4). “The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips.” Some try to belabor the idea of separation from those who embrace false gods here, but I think the thrust is more on David’s determination to never serve a false god. Not to worship it or even speak its name. Are we so determined to keep false gods from assuming God’s place in our lives?
David also finds the providence of God, which is a result of his hiding in God, to be pleasant. He introduces this section with a summary of his desires because of his commitment to God (verse 5). “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.” David is interested in possessing God alone. The LORD is all he needs to satisfy him. But God has done so much more.
While this picture language may sound like health wealth and prosperity, remember that David’s life was never an easy one. A life lived in doing God’s will can be difficult but still satisfying. He describes God’s carving out the life He has given David in terms of the handing out of the inheritance in the Promised Land (verse 6). “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.”
The pleasant places may not be so pleasant to others. Remember the saints who have paid a dear price for serving God. If you were to ask Paul with all his trials, Martin Luther with all of his difficulties, even Adoniram Judson with all his struggles, if their lot had fallen in pleasant places they would have replied, yes.
A part of God’s providential help in David’s life is the help He provides through the Word of God (verse 7). “I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.” Here David does what is written in Psalm 1. He meditates on the word day and night. Have we sought God’s instruction through His Word?
Finally, David reiterates why this providence is so pleasant to him (verse 8). “I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
David’s hope is shown in verses 9-10. “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol.” The promise that David holds onto goes beyond this life. He knows he will not be left in death. Somehow God’s goodness will supersede Sheol, the grave. Now we know that this provision is the resurrection which David will someday know. David may have anticipated this rising from the dead here.
Now comes the part that causes us to scratch our heads. It appears that like Psalm 110, this passage refers to David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Did David know this? There is no connector in the Hebrew (no “Nor”) Therefore, the Messianic prediction (verse 10b) reads. “You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” All the way through this Psalm until we get to this phrase in verse 10b we read of David’s commitment and blessings (“my refuge,” “my everything,” etc.). Then suddenly we read, “Your Holy One” or “Your special one.” Certainly David did not expect to escape decay, but he may have been given a revelation that his greater Son would not endure destruction.
David’s life-long assurance (verse 11). “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” God’s presence is a fearful place unless we stand complete in Christ. If we have had our sins forgiven by the Lord Jesus, we can know joy in His presence and anticipate the pleasures at His right hand.
Two questions we need to ask ourselves because of David’s psalm are: first, do we know the Lord Jesus as Savior? Has David’s greater Son rule and reign by faith in our hearts? Second, are we dwelling in the refuge of who He is? Have we committed to constantly be found in fellowship with Him? Only then will the blessings David described be ours.