Psalm 16 - The Prayer of a Righteous Man Page 3 of 4 - (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.


The godly man has the best of both worlds. There are his prospects in this life (16:7-9), and his prospects in that life (16:9-10). He has three things in this life the unsaved person does not have. He can know what it is to be guided by God: I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins{3] also instruct me in the night seasons.

Nearly all the old guidelines have been broken down today. Old restraints, old moral standards have been swept away and people are frightened, confused, lonely, and at their wits end. They run to professional counselors as never before in history. They turn to the dark world of the occult and devour the prognostications of people like Jeanne Dixon, ignoring the fact that some of her guesses never come true. They are looking to Eastern religions hoping to find answers there, but all their efforts are in vain. The Christian has it all over them. He can know what it is to be guided by God—in this life!

My reins also instruct me in the night seasons. My reins, that is, my inner thoughts prompted by the Holy Spirit, direct me to the course I should take to please and serve the Lord. They instruct me in the night seasons (during the night), not only in the day time, but also in the night, when others are asleep. At night, when I am alone with Him my mind can focus upon the things of God, and I can more clearly hear the still small voice, meditate, and turn all my affections toward God.

David’s personal fellowship with the Lord was his greatest joy. This was when God instructed and counseled David, and told him what to do and how to do it—night after night learning from God. The word “instruct” carries with it the idea of discipline and chastising, for David learned many things when God’s loving hand chastened him (Heb. 12:1-12)


8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

We can know what it is to be guarded by God: I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. In the old days when people fought with swords, a soldier defending another would naturally stand on his right. David could see the Lord standing on his right to defend him from his foes. That is something the unsaved man does not have.

Because he is at my right hand implies that he is kept safe and protected from falling by God’s ever-present help. God is seen as his advocate and defender (Ps. 73:23; 109:31; 110:5; 121:5; 1 Jn. 2:2; Acts 2:33; 5:31). With the Lord as his guide and guard, he had nothing to fear: I shall not be moved or deterred from my duty to God, or from the attainment of that glory and happiness which is prepared for me. The future is your friend when Jesus is your Lord.


9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

The godly man can know in this life what it is to be gladdened by God. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. Come what may, the godly man can lift up his heart and voice in song. In this life! Guided (7)! Guarded (8)! Gladdened (9)! And these are just the fringe benefits of being a believer. These are things God gives us for this life. Even if there was no life to come, it would be worth being a believer just to have the peace, the rest, the joy God gives here and now to his own. But there is more to it than this life. Just think of the prospects of the godly man. To delight in the Lord and his goodness and then to lose all these blessings at death would be a great tragedy. “If in this life only we have faith in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:19, NKJV). But in His death and resurrection, Jesus had conquered death and through faith in Him we have a “living hope” (1 Pe. 1:3){15].

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth. As we approach the end of the psalm, it rises to the mood of radiant joy. There is joy in the psalmist’s heart, a feeling of excitement in his soul, and a sense of restful security in his physical being as he ceases speaking about God and pours out his soul to Him.

My flesh also shall rest in hope. My body shall quietly and sweetly rest in the grave, to which I am anxiously approaching. In hope, that is, in confident assurance of its incorruption there, and of its resurrection to a blessed and immortal life, as it is explained in verses 10 and 11.


10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

In the final verses the psalm takes a giant step into the unknown—into that which cannot be known by human reasoning but only by divine revelation. David speaks

of things that transcend reason. He puts his finger unerringly on two truths which had to await New Testament revelation to be properly grasped: (1) The Truth of Resurrection (v. 10), and (2) The truth of Rapture (v. 11).

The truth of resurrection is present in this verse. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. David could say, “My flesh shall rest in hope” because he could anticipate resurrection.

Old Testament believers did not have much light on the subject of death. They knew that hades claimed the soul and that the grave claimed the body. David believed that neither the triumph of the tomb over his flesh, nor the hold of hades over his soul, was final. Why? Because he had been such a godly man? Because he had accumulated enough merit to ensure his deliverance from death. No indeed! His faith leaps forward again, this time to Christ: For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. As great a saint as David was, he certainly was not God’s “Holy One,” the ideal Israelite. Only the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God sanctified and sent into the world, can claim that title “the Holy One of God.” The wages of sin was death, but Jesus was sinless so death and hades had no power over Him. His soul went down into hades so that He could proclaim in those dark regions the mighty triumph of His cross. His body lay for three days and nights in Joseph’s tomb, but corruption and decay could not touch Him. Then:

Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph Ore His foes:
He arose a Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

There it is! David, with the eye of faith, with keen unerring vision, was able to see the truth of resurrection. He would live beyond the grave because of what the Holy One would do when He would bear away in triumph the very gates of death.

He is in God’s hands and he is glad to be there; God counts him as one of his loyal ones. God will not give him up to Sheol, the land of the dead, but on the contrary will show him the path which leads to life, and quite concretely, which will eventually lead him to the Temple where the Lord dwells.


11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

The truth of Rapture is found in this verse. David’s prospects reached beyond the resurrection, for David saw also the truth of rapture: Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. The path of life begins at the very lowest point in the dark regions of the underworld. But it leads up, out of hades, out through the portals of the tomb, up to the heights of heaven, up to the right hand of God. That is the ultimate prospect of the godly man! Where is the Lord Jesus now? At God’s right hand! Where are we going to be? At God’s right hand! Where is the fullness of joy? Where are those “pleasures for evermore?” At God’s right hand!!!

Thou wilt shew me the path of life, that is, give me an exact and experimental knowledge of it for my own comfort and the benefit of my people. The path of life is the way that leads to eternal life, not to a temporal and mortal life here, for he is supposed to be dead and buried (v. 10); but to an endless, immortal, and blessed life after death, in the presence of God; the way which is by the resurrection of the body. So the meaning is, You will raise me from the grave, and lead me to the place and state of everlasting happiness. When David wrote “my flesh also shall rest in hope” (v. 9) he was referring to Messiah and not to himself. Using these verses, Peter proved that Jesus had been raised from the dead, for it is obvious that David was dead and his body had decayed in his tomb (Acts 2:22-31). But Jesus did not see corruption! When He rose from the dead on the third day he had a real and substantial body, but it was a glorified body, that could ingest food (Lk. 24:36-42) but was also able to pass through locked doors (Jn. 20:19-29). David could face death with a glad heart, and soul, and could rest in the grave in hope, knowing that one day, he too, would have a glorified body. Paul used this same text to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (Acts 13:26-39). The full light about resurrection and death had not yet been revealed in Old Testament times, although there are hints in verses like 17:15{16] and 73:24-26{17], but through Jesus Christ God had brought “life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

Fullness of joy refers to the perfect joy and satisfaction which is vain to expect in this life, and is only to be found in heaven in the presence of God.


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