What does Psalms 16 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
David draws a strong contrast between those who honor God, versus those who dishonor God. The ones who acknowledge their need for the Lord, as David does, see God as their security. He is the ultimate source of good in their lives. This leads those who love God to love God's people. Godly people also resist associating themselves with idolatry and evil. Those who reject the one true God can expect an increasing pile of sorrows (Psalm 16:1–4).

In an Old Testament context, a "portion" was symbolic of what people today may call "fate," or "destiny," except it was not considered as random or impersonal as those modern words might suggest. All things were seen as subject to God's will; that which a person experienced in life was the "portion" assigned by God. Israel's tribes were each destined to inherit a certain part of the Promised Land, other than the Levites, whose "portion" was their priesthood under God. These inheritances were each a "portion" of Canaan. David celebrates that God's grace has resulted in his relationship with the Lord. This, along with God's influence over David's conscience, gives him confidence (Psalm 16:5–8).

Even in the face of death, David is willing to trust God and celebrate His goodness. As much as David trusts God to see him through earthly dangers, he knows his ultimate security is in eternity. David rejects the idea that he will be "abandoned" in death or merely allowed to rot away. This statement is referenced several times in the New Testament as evangelists refer to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:25–28; 13:35). Looking forward to eternity adds to the believer's courage and confidence in all things (Psalm 16:9–11).
Verse Context:
Psalm 16:1–4 rejoices in the Lord's protection. David asks God to keep him secure, and he tells the Lord he has nothing good apart from Him. David delights in the fellowship he enjoys with other believers. In contrast, he is determined not to associate with idolaters. David is certain that those who worship false gods will encounter an increasing number of sorrows.
Psalm 16:5–8 expresses David's elation in God and gives reasons for it. This celebratory tone is set up by the prior passage, which established God as David's ultimate refuge and source of goodness. The verses in this section form the core of the psalm's joyful song. David rejoices in his relationship with the Lord, in his inheritance in Israel, and in the Lord's direction for his life.
Psalm 16:9–11 is the closing segment of David's praise. He expresses joy in believing that not even death will separate him from fellowship with the Lord. He will survive death and enjoy unending pleasure in the Lord's presence. Although these verses have application to David, they are also messianic; they foreshadow Jesus' resurrection from the grave.
Chapter Summary:
David asks the Lord for protection, trusting in God as a safe place from enemies and evil. He confesses that apart from the Lord he has nothing good. This psalm exudes David's joy, using words such as "delight," "pleasant," "glad," "rejoices," "joy," and "pleasures." David celebrates his relationship with God. Because the Lord is with him always, David feels secure, even in the face of death. This is because his eternal destiny is assured. His celebration foreshadows the Messiah, who would conquer death and experience resurrection.
Chapter Context:
This psalm belongs with those expressing David's confidence in the Lord. Despite opposition, David knew God was guiding and protecting him. The psalm exudes joy as David places his trust in the Lord. Perhaps David wrote these words after the Lord gave His covenant to David (2 Samuel 7:1–17) and guaranteed David would have an everlasting throne. A phrase in verse 10 is often cited in the New Testament when discussing the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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