The Resurrection of Christ (Psalm 16)

by Tom Wacaster


In 2023 I was invited to speak at the West Virginia School of Preaching lecture series on this Psalm. At some time during my studies over the past few years, I had scribbled in the margin of my Bible the outline that I used in the oral presentation of that lecture. I must confess that I do not remember where I obtained this outline.

Introduction: Numerous passages provide us with a glimpse at the role that the resurrection of our Lord played in the preaching of the gospel. Among these are Acts 2:25-28 and 13:35. A question surrounding Psalm 16 is whether it is prophetic of our Lord’s resurrection. Keep in mind that there are numerous Psalms that are messianic. There are also numerous Psalms that definitely are not messianic. And then there are those that contain a mixture of prophetic announcements of the Messiah and truths that can only be applied to the author.

It is also important to keep in mind that whatever truths we might learn about the Messiah have application to all of us to some degree. While those truths might apply to our Lord in the ultimate sense, they can and do apply to us in a relative sense.

Looking at the overall tenor of this Psalm it is easy to pick up a heart of contentment on the part of the author. The Psalm could easily be entitled “Satisfied.” That word sums up in a remarkable way the calm disposition of the author as it is reflected in the Psalm.

I once read of four thieves of joy: Circumstances, People, Things, and Worry. Interestingly, the book of Philippians addresses each of these thieves of joy. Chapter one addresses the thief of circumstances; chapter two addresses the thief of people; chapter three addresses the thief of things; and chapter four addresses the thief of worry. Take a look at the epistle and see what you think.

The prophetic element in this Psalm is most definitely that of the resurrection of our Lord. The resurrection of our Lord is the basis for our faith in Him. While this Psalm looks forward to the resurrection, we look backward to His resurrection for our faith and hope that is founded in Him. Let us, therefore, examine the Psalm from the prospect of the Lord’s resurrection as the basis for our Christian life and how we should live as godly people.

I. The Practice of the godly man, 16:1-4. There are three things that stand out in these verses. First, we see that the godly man lives in the Lord’s presence (16:1-2). Notice the words “refuge” and “nothing beyond.” Our Lord set the example in this respect. He always set God before His face. He trusted in God the Father in the ultimate sense. In a relative sense, we too, take refuge in our Father.

Second, the godly man lives for God’s people (16:3). Pick up on the word “saints.” Where are they? “In the earth.” While Jesus is sovereign in heaven, the saints serve in the realms below. They are “excellent” in His sight. Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice for the saints, namely His blook upon the cross. How about us? Do we live for the “saints”? Do we consider God’s people among the “excellent” upon the earth?

Third, the godly man lives by the Lord’s precepts (16:4). The Psalmist sets forth the negative thereby implying the positive truth contained in this verse. Notice especially the hatred the psalmist had for sin and those who practice wickedness. The Psalmist looks at their later end: “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that give gifts to another god” (vs. 4a). Sounds like the warning from Asaph (Psa. 73:17). If men could get a vision of the sorrows of sin they would flee the sin itself. Then the Psalmist rejects their fellowship: “Their drink offering of blood will I not offer” (vs. 4b). We are to have “no fellowship with the unfruitful fruits of darkness.”

II. The Portion of the godly man, 16:5-6. These two verses look at the Psalmist’s attitude toward God. His very words reflect the attitude of Thomas, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of life” (John 6:68). Notice the Psalmist’s trust and his treasure that arises out of that trust.

First, his trust (vs. 5). God is his portion of his inheritance, his cup, and his lot. All of this describes his spiritual relationship to the Father. There is an idea of completeness, fullness, and satisfaction.

Second, the Psalmist speaks of his treasure that arises from his trust. “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places” (6a). God blessed him with physical abundance. While the gospel is not a gospel of “get rich and wealth,” it does, nonetheless, promise physical blessings that go along with our trust in Him (Matt. 6:33).

III. The Prospects of the godly man, 16:7-11. This section shows me that the godly man has a very unique worldview. The worldview that focuses on the here and now is very myopic in its outlook. No wonder the crises that arise in this world so upset them. They cannot look beyond the moment. But the godly man has the ability to look beyond the moment to this life and that life which shall follow.

First, his outlook on this life is different (vss. 7-9). For one thing he is guided by God (vs. 7). It is God’s counsel, not the counsel of the wicked that guides him (cf. Psa. 1:1). His counsel instructs us, showing us that God’s guidance is not an emotion twinge, but a taught guidance. Next, he is guarded by God (vs. 8). When guided, instructed, and enlightened, the child of God cannot be moved. The same truth is taught in 1 John 3:6-9). It is when men fail to be guided by God’s word that they are moved by Satan’s temptations. When guided by God’s word, and guarded by God’s watch care, the godly man will be gladdened. Genuine joy comes from serving God, does it not?

Second, his outlook on that life is different (vs. 10-11). For one thing he looks forward to his own resurrection (vs. 10). This single verse compels me to accept the prophetic nature of this Psalm. It is only of Christ that it can be said that His flesh saw no corruption. But in the relative sense, it is the resurrection of this body (though in a glorified and changed state) that gives us hope. Thank God that none of God’s faithful will be left in that hadean realm! It is with the eye of faith that we look forward to the resurrection. Then, it is with that same eye of faith that we look forward to our eternal reward (vs. 11). We walk in the path that leads to eternal life! It is life that will be “in thy presence” (vs. 11a). It is life that will give to all the faithful “pleasures for ever more” (vs. 11b).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *