This sermon follow up is from the sermon series, "Psalms: The Greatest Hits, Vol. One". Check out the links at the bottom of the blog post to watch or listen to the sermon and to find out more information about Stone's Throw Church.
Psalm 16 was most probably written by David and yet this song is not about David. It is about Jesus. Isn't that a big leap? The Apostles did not think so. Peter quotes directly from this Psalm in his first public sermon which is recorded for us in Acts 2:25-31. Paul backs up his buddy Peter in his sermon at Antioch in Acts 13 when he quotes directly from Psalm 16 and applies the words to the earthly ministry of Jesus and his resurrection.
The trust that one can imperfectly have in God is modeled perfectly by Jesus in his earthly ministry. This song shows us in a very practical way the relationship that Jesus had with the Father. He trusted in Him even unto death knowing that he would be raised by the power of God even after the brutality and finality of death by crucifixion. In this Psalm we see a very real and human Jesus. “This psalm’s purpose is to reveal the perfect relationship between the human Jesus and [God the Father], to describe His relationship with humanity, and to foretell His resurrection and His eternal future.
Once again, it would help us to understand the ebb and flow of the song so that we can farm as much theological and practical meaning from the lyrics as possible. We can break the Psalm up into 4 sections for the purpose of our study.
Verses 1-2 relate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. He trusts the Father and the Father is absolutely behind His Son. Jesus stresses throughout the Gospel accounts that He is walking in the Father’s will and that he has come to exclusively obey the will of the Father. We also see on several occasions (Jesus’ baptism and the Mount of Transfiguration) that the Father is behind the ministry of Jesus.
The second section found in verses 3-4 tell of Jesus’ relationship to all mankind. Simply put, Jesus loves God’s people. One day they will be made his brothers and will inherit all that is Jesus’. Additionally, Jesus will reject those who have rejected him.
The third section found in verses 5-8 reveals the source of Jesus’ ministry. His relationship to the Father is of first importance to him. He does not move unless the Father has ordained it. Every minute of Jesus’ ministry had been planned from all eternity. Jesus was able to accomplish his ministry because the Father is unshakeable in his strength.
Finally, in verses 9-11, we see a picture of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Jesus is not afraid to die. Jesus’ bold predictions and confidence in trial demonstrate his confidence and trust in God. This is why the Psalmist writes that God will not abandon the Messiah to the grave. We are treated to a glimpse of the resurrection and it’s power over death because of Jesus’s resurrection.
“The psalmist, however, in the joyful confidence of faith looked the grim reaper in the face and said, “Yes, but God …”This is a majestic Psalm about Jesus’ trust in the Father and the victory he has won on our behalf.
Additionally, this is a tender Psalm that also tells of his humanity. Spurgeon writes, “Tempted in all points like as we are, the manhood of Jesus needed to be preserved from the power of evil; and though in itself pure, the Lord Jesus did not confide in that purity of nature, but as an example to his followers, looked to the Lord, his God, for preservation.”
Where do you turn in times of trouble? We have been trained to call our counselors, our spouses, our kids, our parents or our teachers when we are up the creek. We have been taught to read the latest self-help book rather than the Word of God. Others of us turn to drugs, alcohol, food, spending money, buying crap, or self-medicating with some other addiction. Our nature is to turn from trouble and steer into more trouble. But Jesus shows us what it means to turn to the Father when we are in trouble and to trust in Him through dangerous or grievous situations.
On the first Good Friday 2000 years ago, Jesus was in serious trouble and he knew it. The crowds had turned from him, his best friends were wary of him, a disciple had sold him out to the mob, the government was bearing down on him, and the religious zealots wanted him dead. So what does Jesus do? He turns to the Father in prayer and asks God to give him the strength to do what must be done – to complete his mission.
God would protect Jesus from death. In the same way, God is your protector. God is absolutely devoted to you when you are in Christ. Jesus showed us in his earthly ministry what it means to live under the protection of God. Protection does not mean that we won’t face hardship. Jesus faced much hardship and so will we. Protection does mean that you will be able to accomplish all that God has called you to accomplish – no more and no less. If our desire is to live by the will of God then we can have full confidence that all that He means to purpose through us will certainly come to pass.
God delights in you. Look closely at what the Psalmist says in verse 3. God delights in saints, meaning those who have been made holy. Look at yourself. You and I both know that we are not holy – at least not perfectly holy. God hates sin. How then can He delight in us? God delights in us because of what Jesus has done for us. And remember, that what Jesus has done for us has always been God’s plan and that His plan was fashioned out of love for us. Paul tells us in Romans 5 that Jesus died for those who hated God so that we might be made the friends of God. This is all of grace. Nothing else can explain why God would do this. As a result of what Jesus has done, and your faith in Christ which unites you to Christ, God delights in you.
Other gods will destroy you. We have been raised by our culture to believe that other gods offer refuge. Sex. Money. Power. Popularity. Nice clothes. Nicer cars. Big bank accounts. Popular ministries and churches. Good looks. Hot wife. Sexy boyfriend. These are all gods who destroy. They are not necessarily bad things or bad people. But our trust in them as gods is what destroys. Why? Because sex cannot offer real refuge. Money will eventually run out or be left in our will to someone who is not us. Clothes from the ‘80’s should never be worn in the new millennium and yet you were told that your Air Jordan’s would bring you much happiness in 1989. You get the point. Other gods bring sorrow to those who run after them.
Jesus is your inheritance. The Psalmist writes, “Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” In Romans we are called co-heirs with Jesus Christ. How is that even possible? We did not do what Jesus did. We couldn’t do what Jesus did. We are disobedient fools and Jesus was perfect in all ways. And yet, we are told that because we are united to him by faith that we will receive what Jesus’ receives – resurrection and glory! I can only imagine what Jesus must have felt when he was tied to the Roman whipping post. He must have held on to the promise of the Father of a resurrected body not only for himself but for all of God’s people.
Because of the resurrection inheritance, nothing can shake you from the grip of God. When the Psalmist says that God is at his right hand he is not insinuating that Jesus is the co-pilot. Instead, this is an expression to demonstrate the closeness of God to his Son Jesus. In turn, it tells us of how close God is to us. Because God is “at our right hand” we have nothing to fear in this life or the life to come.
This song is not just about a present reality or even an earthly reality. The final verses give us a future promise that last forever. It is in these words that we see the Old Testament understanding of resurrection. The Psalmist praises God because he knows that his body, though it may die, will ultimately be restored and resurrected. This is what he means by “the path of life” the “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore.”
Ultimately this section, “prophesies the Messiah’s physical resurrection from death as a result of His perfect earthly walk with God, and His subsequent seating at God’s right hand.” We are united to Jesus in this resurrection. His resurrection means our resurrection.
The Psalm presents us with the unique relationship that Jesus in his humanity had with God the Father. This is the model for our walk with God the Father. We fail miserably at times but God is gracious. Will you trust God when times are rough? Will you rest in His unshakeable grip? Will you believe that God will make all things new as promised by Jesus and proved by His resurrection?
· Take some time to pray through Psalm 16 this week.
· What are some areas in your life right now where you are not trusting God? Be specific.
· What comfort do you find in this Psalm?
· Why is the resurrection of Jesus proof of God’s love for you and that He will accomplish His will in your life?