Introduction: Psalm 16 continues the themes from Psalm 15 of a transformed believer. Jesus promises to transform a believer into a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Jo. 3:3). He further states that you will know a true believer through their “fruits” (Matt. 7:16, 20; 12:33; Lk. 6:43-44). Here, David reveals several additional signs of a transformed believer. These include: (1) trust, (2) humility, (3) fellowship, (4) separation, (5) contentment, (6) submission, and (7) hope.
First, David professed that he would turn to God for refuge in the face of evil. A believer transformed through faith also trusts in God for protection. Second, David confessed that no good thing came from his own abilities. A transformed believer is also humble before God. Third, David professed his love to be in the company of God’s people. A transformed believer also enjoys the fellowship of God’s people in Church and in small groups where there is accountability, love, and support. Fourth, David stated that he would avoid associations with people who would pull him off his walk. A transformed believer stays separate from unholy associations. Fifth, David professed that God was the only inheritance that he needed. A transformed believer is also content with God’s gifts. Sixth, David gave thanks for God’s guidance and followed it. A transformed believer also celebrates and submits to God’s guidance. Finally, David proclaimed that God’s Holy One would not see decay. David had the hope of eternal life. A transformed believer also has the hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus.
David placed his trust in God when his enemies threatened him. As our example, David had the faith to trust God for his protection whenever his many enemies threatened him: “A Mikhtam of David. 1Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.” (Ps. 16:1). He did not trust in his own abilities or in other powerful people.
God will protect those who take refuge in Him. Because God was his refuge, David rebuked those who told him to flee from his enemies: “1In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain?”’ (Ps. 11:1). “O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue me, and rescue me,” (Ps. 7:1). David also encouraged others to take refuge in God: “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Ps. 2:12b). “Taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8). He also encouraged others to follow his example: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” (Ps. 56:3). “The righteous person will be glad in the LORD and take refuge in Him; and all the upright in heart will boast.” (Ps. 64:10). “For my eyes are toward You, GOD, the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless.” (Ps. 141:8). During a trial, do you put your trust in God?
God is also a shield for those who take refuge in Him. Among the blessings that come from taking refuge in God is His promise to be your shield when you are attacked: “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (2 Sam. 22:31). “For You bless the righteous person, LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Ps. 5:12). Believers are told to put on the armor of God: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11). This is only possible when you take refuge in God. Are you going into battle against the enemy with the full armor of God?
Take refuge in Jesus, and He will be your shield1
When God is your shield, you never need to fear your enemy. Moses was also a hero of the faith because he encouraged his fearful followers to place their trust in God. At a time when the Egyptians were seemingly ready to crush the Jews at the Red Sea, Moses encouraged the Jews to have faith while God fought their battle for them: “13 But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Ex. 14:13-14). God repeatedly told His people not to fear when they faced trouble (e.g., Gen. 15:1; 46:3; 20:20; 1 Sam. 11:13; 12:16; 2 Kin. 6:16; Is. 7:4, 41:10-13). The battle against the enemy always belongs to Him: “The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,” (Dt. 1:30; 3:22). “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.” (Dt. 20:1). ‘“Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” (2 Chron. 20:15; 32:7-8). He always wants you to rely on Him, regardless of what lies behind you or in your past. He will be your rear guard: “But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Is. 52:12). There is an analogy to this in the armor of God. His armor has no protection for your back because He will protect you (Eph. 6:10-18). Do you place your trust in God to protect you when others attack you?
David confessed that any good thing in his life came from God. Also as our example, David knew that every good thing in his life came from God and not from his abilities: “2 I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.’” (Ps. 16:2). As one commentator observes: “David knew that his very best – all of his goodness – was nothing apart from God. · It was nothing when it came to making David righteous before God; he needed God to bring His righteousness to David. · It was nothing because David’s goodness was itself a gift of God; therefore apart from Him, it was nothing · It was nothing because David’s goodness, as precious as it was, was of small value without his relationship with God.” (David Guzik on Ps. 16) (emphasis original).2
Nothing that your flesh offers is pleasing to God. After coming to know Christ, Paul also realized that his prior worldly accomplishments were all worthless before God: “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,” (Phil. 3:8). Are you prideful about any of your accomplishments? Do you realize that every good thing comes from God? (Jam. 1:7).
God will also one day exalt the humble. God promises to one day exalt the humble: “A person’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam. 4:10). Yet, believers should not confuse the ultimate with the immediate. There are plenty of wicked people who enjoy temporary exaltation. There are also plenty of righteous people who bear temporary and undeserved shame. Jesus and Job are two examples of this. God will ultimately exalt every humble believer. But for some this will only happen in heaven. God wants you to be patient for His timing.
David loved spending time serving with God’s people. Also as our example, David knew that his faith was perfected when he loved and fellowshipped with God’s people: “3 As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the majestic ones; all my delight is in them.” (Ps. 16:3). David sought to fellowship with others who were obedient to God: “I am a companion to all those who fear You, and to those who keep Your precepts.” (Ps. 119:63). “My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; one who walks in a blameless way is one who will serve me.” (Ps. 101:6).
Fellowship with God’s people brings accountability to maintain your walk. The Bible warns believers not to forsake the accountability that comes from being in a fellowship group in your church: “not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25). This accountability comes from being in a small group, not just floating in and out of a megachurch. This can include public vows to follow God’s Word. For example, the psalmist made a public vow of accountability before other believers: “I have sworn and I will confirm it, that I will keep Your righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:106). King Josiah followed this example by having the people affirm their agreement to be bound by the Ten Commandments (2 Chr. 34:29-33; 2 Kgs. 23:1-3). Ezra also followed in this example in leading the people in a public vow of accountability (Ezra 10:12-14). Today, God also wants you to publicly confess your faith before others to keep yourself accountable (Ro. 10:8-9). If you confess Jesus to be Lord and Savior before others, He in turn will confess you in heaven (Lk. 12:8; Matt. 10:32). Are you in a small accountability group and sharing your faith in Jesus with others? (Matt. 28:16-20).
Fellowship with God’s people includes helping the poor and the disadvantaged. God created you for His “good works.” (Eph. 2:10). This includes compassion and charity for God’s people who are less fortunate: “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” (Prov. 19:17; Dt. 15:11; Matt. 5:42). “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”’ (Matt. 25:40, 35). Conversely, Jesus warns: ‘“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”’ (Matt. 25:45). “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” (Prov. 14:31). “But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 Jo. 3:17). “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” (Prov. 21:13). If you are not giving to the poor or your brothers or sisters in Christ who are in need, how much love and gratitude can you say you have for Jesus or His people?
David avoided the company of those who served other gods. Also as our example, David knew that his walk would be corrupted is he joined himself with those who reject God: “4 The pains of those who have acquired another god will be multiplied; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, nor will I take their names upon my lips.” (Ps. 16:4). To keep the Jews pure and completely devoted to Him, God repeatedly warned them not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers and remove any form of idolatrous influences from their lives (E.g., Dt. 7:3; 12:3; Ex. 23:13; 34:16; Josh. 23:7, 12; Neh. 10:30).
Bad company corrupts good morals. David knew that he could be pulled off his walk with God if he kept company with pagan people. This is exactly how David’s son Solomon drifted in his walk with God: “For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of his father David had been.” (1 Kgs. 11:5). Believers are also warned to be wary of their company: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.”’ (1 Cor. 15:33). Are you with people who may put you on the wrong path?
Don’t be unequally yoked. God wants you to be pure and holy for His use. He wants you to be holy because He is holy: “[B]ecause it is written, ‘you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:16; Lev. 11:44-5; 19:2; 20:7). The definition of “true religion” also includes being “unstained by the world.” (Ja. 1:27). Part of being pure and holy includes being separate from marriages to non-believers: “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” (Dt. 22:10). “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnerships have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? . . .” (2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Jo. 1:6). Many believers marry non-believers expecting them to change. Here, David warned that the result is typically sorrow (Ps. 16:4). Are you entangling yourself in relationships with non-believers?
You are Jesus’ light of hope in a dark world. Jesus is the “Light of the world.” (Jo. 9:5; 8:12). While He is gone, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14). To be an example, He implores “that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Phil. 2:15; Prov. 4:18). Are you a light to others by your actions? Or, are you compromised through worldly associations?
David was content with what God gave him in life. Also as our example, David was content with what God gave him and did not look to be fulfilled through worldly things: “5 The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. 6 The measuring lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, my inheritance is beautiful to me.” (Ps. 16:5-6). The priests were called upon to give up their worldly inheritance in the Promised Land: “Then the LORD said to Aaron, ‘You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.”’ (Nu. 18:20). David was not a Levite and had no obligation to sacrifice. But he was also honored to accept what God gave him as his true inheritance.
If you desire the things of God, He will give you the desires of your heart3
Be content with what God has given you. Many people are driven by worldly ambitions including greed, lust, idolatry, and pride. But these ambitions stem from a lack of contentment with God’s gifts. David saw little value in his worldly accomplishments: “Whom do I have in heaven but You? And with You, I desire nothing on earth.” (Ps. 73:25). Like David, you are called upon to be content with the blessings that God has given you: “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Tim. 6:6). “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Phil. 4:11). “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; . . .” (Heb. 13:5a). Are you content with what God has given you? Or, are you pursuing worldly rewards?
Let Jesus be your inheritance. As part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9), your sacrifice is not without a reward. Like David, you have the right to count Jesus as your inheritance: “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel-- I am their possession.” (Ezek. 44:28). “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” (Ps. 119:57). “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.” (Ps. 16:5; Is. 61:6-7). Moreover, you do not need to wait until heaven to receive your inheritance. First, the Holy Spirit is a down payment on your eternal inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:14). Second, when you act in one accord with your fellow believers for Christ, Jesus further gives part of His glory to you (Jo. 17:22). You also have an inheritance in heaven that is so great that it cannot be adequately described (1 Cor. 2:9; Ro. 8:18). Are you storing up treasures in heaven by denying yourself of pleasures and giving the best of your time, talent, and treasure to help the Church and those in need?
When you let Jesus be your inheritance, you store up treasures in heaven. Jesus is our High Priest (Heb. 4:14). To fulfill the Law, He lived without owning land while He lived as man on Earth (Matt. 8:20; Lk. 9:58). He calls upon every believer to store up all forms of wealth (not just land) in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20; Lk. 12:33). Yet, He did not prohibit people from owning land. Having wealth is not in and of itself sinful. If it were, God would not have rewarded Job or Solomon with riches (Job 42:10; 2 Chron. 1:11). Instead, Jesus asks you to give up wealth if it causes you to covet. He commanded a young man to give up his wealth because He knew that the man’s money had caused him to commit the sins of hoarding and coveting (Matt. 9:21; Lk. 18:22). If Jesus were to call upon you to sell your property to help the poor, would your heart be filled with sadness?
Like David, you are also privileged to sacrifice for God. Being content with what God has given you sometimes means that you need to sacrifice the desires of your flesh. As your High Priest, Jesus also sacrificed for His Church by paying the ultimate price for your sins (Mk. 3:28-29). Like Jesus, your privilege in serving as a priest means that you will also sometimes suffer for Him. Yet, you must always remember that this is a privilege. Peter advised those who suffer for the cause of Christ to rejoice (1 Pet. 4:13). Your suffering, trials, and humiliation make you a better witness for Him (Ro. 5:3; Jam. 1:2-4). Through your trials, you can tell others that Jesus offers the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). Yet, if you have never had to cling to God in a storm, how much will someone in a storm trust your advice? That is how God prepares you to fulfill your duty in comforting others during their times of need (2 Cor. 1:4).
David praised God for guiding and teaching him wisdom. Also as our example, David praised God for blessing him with guidance and teaching him the wisdom that he needed: “7 I will bless the Lord who has advised me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. 8 I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Ps. 16:7-8). The pagans could not receive any guidance from their gods. They instead could only rely upon their own understanding. Or, the devil guided their actions.
Submit to God’s ways, and He will protect you on your path4
David celebrated God’s guidance. On many other occasions, David praised God for His guidance: “You will guide me with Your plan, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Ps. 73:24). David further had the faith to know that God would guide him until his death: “For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will lead us until death.” (Ps. 48:14). God’s Word also renewed David’s mind and also transformed his heart (Ro. 12:1-2).
To receive God’s guidance, diligently read His Word and pray for His wisdom. If you wish to be guided as God guided David, diligently read God’s Word and pray for His wisdom to be revealed to you: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19). God will then guide you with His wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). “For to a person who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, . ..” (Ecc. 2:26). The Holy Spirit applies the Word to guide you: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13). “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:16). Do you read God’s Word and pray to receive God’s guidance?
Submit to Jesus. Some hear God’s Word but then fail to follow it. Yet, without obedience, your faith is dead (Jam. 2:14-26). Also, if you know the Word and still refuse to obey, Jesus is not really the Lord over your life: “Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.” (Ja. 1:22). Jesus is also the great “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Ex. 3:14; Jo. 8:58). Although you are no longer judged under the Law, Jesus reveals that you show your love for Him when you keep His Commandments voluntarily: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6; Jo. 15:10; Matt. 19:17). Whether you keep His Commandments out of love (and not obligation) is also the test regarding whether you “know” Him: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). Are you rebelling against Jesus in any area?
David thanked God for the hope of eternal life. Also as our example, David praised God for His blessings, including the promise of eternal life: “9 Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. 10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 11 You will make known to me the way of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Ps. 16:9-11). While the Sadducees during Jesus’ time on Earth doubted the existence of a heaven, David had not such doubts: “For there is no mention of You in death; in Sheol, who will praise You?” (Ps. 6:5). “Will You perform wonders for the dead? Or will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah. Will Your graciousness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon?” (Ps. 88:10-11).
David spoke prophetically of the hope of Jesus’ resurrection. David wrote: “You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” (Ps. 16:10). “That he might live on eternally, That he might not undergo decay.” (Ps. 49:9). The book of Acts quotes this psalm and applies it directly as a prophecy that applied to Jesus: “Therefore, He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.’” (Acts 13:35).
Out of love, Jesus died on the cross so that everyone might find eternal life. Out of love, God planned before time began to send Jesus to die on the cross to allow all who believe to have eternal life: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,’” (Jo. 11:25-26; 14:19). Through Jesus, you can “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,” (1 Pet. 1:4). “And [Jesus] said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”’ (Lk. 23:43). Paul “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” (2 Cor. 12:4). “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Tim. 1:10). “To the one who overcomes, I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’” (Rev. 2:7b). “The one who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Rev. 21:7). Are you praising Jesus for your gift of eternal life?
Through faith in Jesus, the path to eternal life will open up to you5
Jesus also offers His light when you are in darkness. David praised God for being his hope during his times of darkness. When you feel trapped in darkness, you can also turn to Jesus to be your light: “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (Jo. 1:4). “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”’ (Jo. 8:12). “I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness.” (Jo. 12:46). When you feel trapped in darkness, turn to Jesus to be your light.