This psalm begins with expressions of devotion, which may be applied to Christ; but ends with such confidence of a resurrection, as must be applied to Christ, and to him only.
- David flees to God's protection, with cheerful, believing confidence. Those who have avowed that the Lord is their Lord, should often put themselves in mind of what they have done, take the comfort of it, and live up to it. He devotes himself to the honour of God, in the service of the saints. Saints on earth we must be, or we shall never be saints in heaven. Those renewed by the grace of God, and devoted to the glory of God, are saints on earth. The saints in the earth are excellent ones, yet some of them so poor, that they needed to have David's goodness extended to them. David declares his resolution to have no fellowship with the works of darkness; he repeats the solemn choice he had made of God for his portion and happiness, takes to himself the comfort of the choice, and gives God the glory of it. This is the language of a devout and pious soul. Most take the world for their chief good, and place their happiness in the enjoyments of it; but how poor soever my condition is in this world, let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him; let me have a title by promise to life and happiness in the future state; and I have enough. Heaven is an inheritance; we must take that for our home, our rest, our everlasting good, and look upon this world to be no more ours, than the country through which is our road to our Father's house. Those that have God for their portion, have a goodly heritage. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, and look no further. Gracious persons, though they still covet more of God, never covet more than God; but, being satisfied of his loving-kindness, are abundantly satisfied with it: they envy not any their carnal mirth and delights. But so ignorant and foolish are we, that if left to ourselves, we shall forsake our own mercies for lying vanities. God having given David counsel by his word and Spirit, his own thoughts taught him in the night season, and engaged him by faith to live to God. Verses ( 8-11 ) , are quoted by St. Peter in his first sermon, after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Ac. 2:25-31 ; he declared that David in them speaks concerning Christ, and particularly of his resurrection. And Christ being the Head of the body, the church, these verses may be applied to all Christians, guided and animated by the Spirit of Christ; and we may hence learn, that it is our wisdom and duty to set the Lord always before us. And if our eyes are ever toward God, our hearts and tongues may ever rejoice in him. Death destroys the hope of man, but not the hope of a real Christian. Christ's resurrection is an earnest of the believer's resurrection. In this world sorrow is our lot, but in heaven there is joy, a fulness of joy; our pleasures here are for a moment, but those at God's right hand are pleasures for evermore. Through this thy beloved Son, and our dear Saviour, thou wilt show us, O Lord, the path of life; thou wilt justify our souls now, and raise our bodies by thy power at the last day; when earthly sorrow shall end in heavenly joy, pain in everlasting happiness.
Psalms 16:1-11 . Michtam, or, by the change of one letter, Michtab--a "writing," such as a poem or song (compare Isaiah 38:9 ). Such a change of the letter m for b was not unusual. The position of this word in connection with the author's name, being that usually occupied by some term, such as Psalm or song, denoting the style or matter of the composition, favors this view of its meaning, though we know not why this and Psalms 56-60 should be specially, called "a writing." "A golden (Psalm)," or "a memorial" are explanations proposed by some--neither of which, however applicable here, appears adapted to the other Psalms where the term occurs. According to Peter ( Acts 2:25 ) and Paul ( Acts 13:35 ), this Psalm relates to Christ and expresses the feelings of His human nature, in view of His sufferings and victory over death and the grave, including His subsequent exaltation at the right hand of God. Such was the exposition of the best earlier Christian interpreters. Some moderns have held that the Psalm relates exclusively to David; but this view is expressly contradicted by the apostles; others hold that the language of the Psalm is applicable to David as a type of Christ, capable of the higher sense assigned it in the New Testament. But then the language of Psalms 16:10 cannot be used of David in any sense, for "he saw corruption." Others again propose to refer the first part to David, and the last to Christ; but it is evident that no change in the subject of the Psalm is indicated. Indeed, the person who appeals to God for help is evidently the same who rejoices in having found it. In referring the whole Psalm to Christ, it is, however, by no means denied that much of its language is expressive of the feelings of His people, so far as in their humble measure they have the feelings of trust in God expressed by Him, their head and representative. Such use of His language, as recorded in His last prayer ( John 17:1-26 ), and even that which He used in Gethsemane, under similar modifications, is equally proper. The propriety of this reference of the Psalm to Christ will appear in the scope and interpretation. In view of the sufferings before Him, the Saviour, with that instinctive dread of death manifested in Gethsemane, calls on God to "preserve" Him; He avows His delight in holiness and abhorrence of the wicked and their wickedness; and for "the joy that was set before Him, despising the shame" [ Hebrews 12:2 ], encourages Himself; contemplating the glories of the heritage appointed Him. Thus even death and the grave lose their terrors in the assurance of the victory to be attained and "the glory that should follow" [ 1 Peter 1:11 ].
1. Preserve me, &c.--keep or watch over my interests.
in thee . . . I . . . trust--as one seeking shelter from pressing danger.
2. my soul--must be supplied; expressed in similar cases ( Psalms 42:5 Psalms 42:11 ).
my goodness . . . thee--This obscure passage is variously expounded. Either one of two expositions falls in with the context. "My goodness" or merit is not on account of Thee--that is, is not for Thy benefit. Then follows the contrast of Psalms 16:3 (but is), in respect, or for the saints, &c.--that is, it enures to them. Or, my goodness--or happiness is not besides Thee--that is, without Thee I have no other source of happiness. Then, "to the saints," &c., means that the same privilege of deriving happiness from God only is theirs. The first is the most consonant with the Messianic character of the Psalm, though the latter is not inconsistent with it.
3. saints--or, persons consecrated to God, set apart from others to His service.
in the earth--that is, land of Palestine, the residence of God's chosen people--figuratively for the Church.
excellent--or, "nobles," distinguished for moral excellence.
4. He expresses his abhorrence of those who seek other sources of happiness or objects of worship, and, by characterizing their rites by drink offerings of blood, clearly denotes idolaters. The word for "sorrows" is by some rendered "idols"; but, though a similar word to that for idols, it is not the same. In selecting such a term, there may be an allusion, by the author, to the sorrows produced by idolatrous practices.
5-7. God is the chief good, and supplies all need ( Deuteronomy 10:9 ).
portion of mine inheritance and of my cup--may contain an allusion to the daily supply of food, and also to the inheritance of Levi ( Deuteronomy 18:1 Deuteronomy 18:2 ).
maintainest--or, drawest out my lot--enlargest it. Psalms 16:7 carries out this idea more fully.
7. given me counsel--cared for me.
my reins--the supposed seat of emotion and thought ( Psalms 7:9 , 26:2 ).
instruct me--or, excite to acts of praise ( Isaiah 53:11 Isaiah 53:12 , Hebrews 12:2 ).
8. With God's presence and aid he is sure of safety ( Psalms 10:6 , 15:5 , John 12:27 John 12:28 , Hebrews 5:7 Hebrews 5:8 ).
9. glory--as heart ( Psalms 7:5 ), for self. In Acts 2:26 , after the Septuagint, "my tongue" as "the glory of the frame"--the instrument for praising God.
flesh--If taken as opposed to Soul ( Psalms 16:10 ), it may mean the body; otherwise, the whole person (compare Psalms 63:1 , 84:2 ).
rest in hope--(compare Margin).
10. soul--or, "self." This use of "soul" for the person is frequent ( Genesis 12:5 , 46:26 , Psalms 3:2 , 7:2 , 11:1 ), even when the body may be the part chiefly affected, as in Psalms 35:13 , 105:18 . Some cases are cited, as Leviticus 22:4 , Numbers 6:6 , Numbers 9:6 Numbers 9:10 , 19:13 , Haggai 2:13 , &c., which seem to justify assigning the meaning of body, or dead body; but it will be found that the latter sense is given by some adjunct expressed or implied. In those cases person is the proper sense.
wilt not leave . . . hell--abandon to the power of ( Job 39:14 , Psalms 49:10 ). Hell as ( Genesis 42:38 , Psalms 6:5 , Jonah 2:2 ) the state or region of death, and so frequently--or the grave itself ( Job 14:13 , 17:13 , Ecclesiastes 9:10 , &c.). So the Greek Hades (compare Acts 2:27 Acts 2:31 ). The context alone can settle whether the state mentioned is one of suffering and place of the damned (compare Psalms 9:17 , Proverbs 5:5 , 7:27 ).
wilt . . . suffer--literally, "give" or "appoint."
Holy One--( Psalms 4:3 ), one who is the object of God's favor, and so a recipient of divine grace which he exhibits--pious.
to see--or, "experience"--undergo ( Luke 2:26 ).
corruption--Some render the word, the pit, which is possible, but for the obvious sense which the apostle's exposition ( Acts 2:27 , Acts 13:36 Acts 13:37 ) gives. The sense of the whole passage is clearly this: by the use of flesh and soul, the disembodied state produced by death is indicated; but, on the other hand, no more than the state of death is intended; for the last clause of Psalms 16:10 is strictly parallel with the first, and Holy One corresponds to soul, and corruption to hell. As Holy One, or David ( Acts 13:36 Acts 13:37 ), which denotes the person, including soul and body, is used for body, of which only corruption can be predicated (compare Acts 2:31 ); so, on the contrary, soul, which literally means the immaterial part, is used for the person. The language may be thus paraphrased, "In death I shall hope for resurrection; for I shall not be left under its dominion and within its bounds, or be subject to the corruption which ordinarily ensues."
11. Raised from the dead, he shall die no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Thou wilt show me--guide me to attain.
the path of life--or, "lives"--the plural denoting variety and abundance--immortal blessedness of every sort--as "life" often denotes.
in thy presence--or, "before Thy faces." The frequent use of this plural form for "faces" may contain an allusion to the Trinity ( Numbers 6:25 Numbers 6:26 , Psalms 17:15 , 31:16 ).
at thy right hand--to which Christ was exalted ( Psalms 110:1 , Acts 2:33 , Colossians 3:1 , Hebrews 1:3 ). In the glories of this state, He shall see of the travail ( Isaiah 53:10 Isaiah 53:11 , Philippians 2:9 ) of His soul, and be satisfied.