This Psalm is titled “A Miktam of David” and, as with the titles of previous psalms, there is a lack of clarity as to its meaning. C.H. Spurgeon bestows upon it the title of “Psalm of the Precious Jewel” and states that others have called it “The Golden Psalm,” apparently both titles underscore its treasured place in the hearts of many Christian scholars because of its Christological context (see C.H. Spurgeon commentary).
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
(Psalms 16:1 ESV)
Here we see once again see King David (praying in the spirit as a type of Christ) seeking shelter in the refuge of God. In the first line the Hebrew word for God is “El,” which is calling on his characteristic of might and power (Spurgeon; Strong’s H410), whereas in the second line he calls upon the “Lord.” The “Lord” in the first instance of the second line is “Jehovah” (the “I am”; see Strong’s H3068) and in the second instance typically signifies “Lord” (see Strong’s H136). Why all of the variation in the names of God? I would not suppose to know the full depths of David’s inspired thinking but I can say that the Lord possesses many names and each one speaks to a different quality of his nature. One potential worthwhile meditative practice that I have considered undertaking is doing a meditation on the different names of the Lord so as to become better acquainted with his nature. In this instance it appears that David first wants to invoke the power of God because he is petitioning to hide himself within that power, that is, the fortress of God. In the latter two I defer to another author who indicates that the first “Lord” is used to indicate God proper (i.e. “God” as we commonly think of him) and the second use as the Messiah (see article). I believe David is patterning for us how our relationship with God should be. We should invoke the Lord’s different names depending on how we want to relate to him.
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
(Psalms 16:3-4 ESV)
Here we see the contrast in David’s relationship to the righteous and the good. His face shines upon the saints but he frowns upon the works of the wicked idolators. David echoes Exodus 23:13 when he says that he will not even speak the names of other “gods.” I think we too should heed his advice. While we are to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11), I think we do not need to give any unnecessary publicity to the works of evil in the world except for the purposes of instruction and approbation, certainly not for any glorification.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
(Psalms 16:5-6 ESV)
Indeed, our inheritance with all the saints is beautiful and expansive. Unlike our earthly lots, we need not fear trespassers or usurpers of this divine inheritance for the Lord himself holds it for us (Spurgeon).
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall
not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
(Psalms 16:7-9 ESV)
We are on stable ground when the Lord is our counselor. Therefore, we should treasure his commandments in our heart that we may be able to consult them in our walks with the Lord, both in the day and in the night. If we keep our thoughts focused on the Lord and keep his ways before our eyes then we will not be moved, for he will strengthen us.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
(Psalms 16:10 ESV)
Here I believe David was speaking in the spirit in a Christological fashion, for David himself did see corruption although Christ could not be taken captive by death (see Spurgeon; also Acts 13:36). Consequently, we too will follow Christ and be raised at his second coming with an uncorrupted and glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:43).
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)
Thomas Watson says of Heaven, “Here joy enters into us, there we enter into joy; the joys we have here are from heaven; the joys we shall have with Christ are without measure and without mixture.” (Spurgeon notes). Amen.
*ESV=English Standard Version