You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” So David begins Psalm 16.
Immediately, we see the language of faith. David takes cover in God. He doesn’t merely acknowledge that God exists, but he understands his entire existence in relation to God’s supremacy. That he continues throughout this psalm: “I have no good apart from you” (verse 2); “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot” (verse 5); “I have set the Lord always before me” (verse 8). David portrays the life of faith, and it’s this picture that leads us to the fullness of joy in verse 11.
The life of trusting God, as David shows us, makes his heart glad, indeed, his whole being rejoices, and his flesh dwells secure (verse 9). But why does his flesh dwell secure? It’s because God will not abandon his soul to the grave. The Lord won’t let his holy one see corruption. Which is to say: either his death will forever be prevented, or there will be a resurrection.
Jesus Was Raised
The theme of resurrection is important, and it has clear allusions to the Messiah. In fact, the apostles tell us explicitly that this verse is about Jesus (Acts 2:19–36). David is speaking here, but as Peter proclaims in the Book of Acts, “[David] foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31).
So Psalm 16 is about Jesus, and that is really good news. If this psalm is about Jesus, then that means it’s about us, too. For just as Christ was raised from the dead, so also will we be raised (1 Corinthians 15:17–20). For the Christian, we have more than the promise of resurrection; we have an actual demonstration. The tomb is empty.
The Path of Life
The theme of resurrection helps us understand what David means in verse 11, “You make known to me the path of life.” The path of life is not mainly about the here and now. The guiding grace of God is for more than this life. As John Calvin writes, “It is to form a very low estimate, indeed, of the grace of God to speak of him as a guide to his people in the path of life only for a very few years in this world.”
There is much in the Bible about how to live life in this world, but this passage isn’t talking about that. The path of life isn’t about balancing your checkbook, or making wise decisions in your relationships, or blessing others with your words (all of which are good things). The path of life goes beyond the nuts and bolts of faith to refer to the whole trajectory of our lives as those who, in Christ, have been reconciled to God.
The path of life means being united to God such that we’ll never be without him.It’s not so much a trail to follow as it is a promise to embrace.
That’s the glorious shift in Psalm 16. It begins with our faith in God and ends with God’s faithfulness to us. He will not abandon us. No, he won’t! He won’t. He makes known to us the path of life — life beyond the grave, life that ushers us into his presence where there is fullness of joy, where at this right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
So We Rejoice
So we dwell secure here. Our whole being rejoices. We are glad. We can go forth today and tomorrow and the next knowing that not even death can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ. We can fix our eyes upon the cross and run to our Savior — our Savior who is risen from the dead, who has trampled death by his own sacrificial death. We can rejoice because Jesus, by his strength, is raised from the dead, and we, by his grace, will be raised with him.
Church, come awake! Let us proclaim: Christ is risen from dead!