Psalm 16 Sermon From January 2013 Prayer Service
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / January 2nd 2013: Season of Christmas, Psalm 16 "I Shall Not be Shaken"
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.”
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.
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.
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.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let Your holy one see corruption.
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 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all are hearts be acceptable in your sight O, Lord. Amen.
Grace, peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Good Christian Friends. A baby was born in Bethlehem, and as it turned out he was set aside by God to be king of the Children of Israel; this baby grew to be one described as a Man after God’s Own Heart, and he was anointed by a Prophet of the LORD. This baby born in Bethlehem was not Jesus, but David: the writer of Psalm 16; and Psalm 16, like we find in other Psalms, is a Psalm that’s both about the Psalmists life and the life of another, the Life of One Who was to come. Psalm 16 ultimately points to a different Baby; a Baby Who would also be born in Bethlehem, a better baby, a better King, a man who was perfectly a Man after God the Father’s Heart, Jesus.
Through Samuel the Prophet God had warned King Saul that because Saul (as King) did not trust God, Saul’s kingdom would perish and be given to another: Samuel said to Saul, “... Your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
From here on in God starts to work a different plan for the kingship of Israel, one that would see a young shepherd boy, David, become a prophet, warrior and king to Israel, David would become a shepherd of God’s people. Saul, however, would still be around and their lives, Saul and David’s, were intertwined until Saul’s death. What started out as a good, yet often strained, relationship between Saul and David soon became one of antagonism (mainly Saul’s bitterness towards David). David, in the face of his growing popularity and his continued victories, became an object of disdain for Saul: Saul eventually tried to kill David. In a fit brought on by an evil spirit Saul with a spear in his hand “hurled the spear [at David], for [Saul] thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.
Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed [David] from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand [soldiers]. And [David] went out and came in before the people. And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him. And when Saul saw that [David] had great success, he stood in fearful awe of [David].” Everyone knew the grim reality that every warrior sent out from Jerusalem could come back into the city dead; something I’m sure Saul had hoped for, for David. David coming back dead would have quelled Saul’s jealousy, his worries about David and God’s Word to him about losing his kingdom. But the people loved David because every time he went out, he came back alive, victorious.
Eventually everything had grown so bad between Saul and David that David was forced to run away and hide from Saul in the hills: and again Saul desired to kill David himself. David had 400 men with him: Saul had 3000 soldiers; and in the midst of Saul’s pursuit of David there came a night when Saul and his men were fast asleep and David came near and took the spear that lay by Saul’s head and a nearby jar of water as Saul slept. David didn’t kill Saul in his sleep, he could have, he was urged to do it by others, but he didn’t. In the morning Saul knew that David had spared his life again and from a distance, Saul and David talked with one another, and David asks, “Why does my lord [Saul] pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands? Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the LORD who has stirred you up against me, may He accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the LORD, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the LORD, for [you Saul] the king of Israel [have] come out to seek a single flea [, me David!], [you seek me] like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
Now, two main ideas that link straight back into Psalm 16 from this event in David’s life are these: 1) David says, that he’s been driven out of his own country by Saul so that he “should have no share in the heritage of the LORD” 2) by doing this Saul was telling David to find other gods, to ‘Go, serve other gods.’ In Psalm 16 David begins by praying “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.” David continues praying, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply.” For David there can be no other gods, only the true God, the one into Whose covenant he was circumcised, the One Who anointed him by the hand of Samuel, the One Who defeated Goliath using his shepherds hand, a sling and a stone, the One God Who protected Him from the hand of Saul who wished him dead. For David there were no other gods.
The inheritance of the Lord, the heritage of the Lord is also spoken of in Psalm 16 when David says, “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.” Here David makes reference to the promises of God to Abraham about the Promised Land and the end of the book of Joshua where the Promised Land, the inheritance of the Lord, the heritage of the Lord is divided up by lot, by lottery, to the twelve tribes of Israel. This is the whole of the kingdom of Israel and once David is anointed by Samuel it becomes his personal inheritance. Not just a portion of it as a Benjamitebut all of it as king. In Psalm 16 David confesses his faith that all this is truly in the Hand of God and is not in the hands of men, not even in the hands of King Saul. And while Saul seeks David’s life, David trusts that Saul can’t truly take God or the promises of God from him. This is why David confidently prays that the LORD is his refuge and that God “will not abandon [his] soul to Sheol, [that God would not] let [His] holy one [His anointed] see corruption.” This last part is likewise prophetic as we shall see.
Now the other Child of Bethlehem would likewise have people seeking His death, and would likewise have people plotting His capture and murder. They too would seek to use political authority wrongly to accomplish this and in the dead of night one who had loved Him would seek His life. Judas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, had not gone with the rest of them to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray after the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the devil had already put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. By the time they were all on their way to the garden to pray Judas had left their midst to go and gather the temple guards for the coming treachery. In the Garden, knowing that His betrayal was at hand Jesus prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Jesus puts everything into His Heavenly Father’s Hands; He like David knows that His life and kingdom are not in Judas’ hands and not in King Herod’s, or Pontius Pilates hands or in the hands of the people who wanted Him dead, ultimately Christ’s life and death are truly only in God’s Hands. The shepherd King David knew this and confessed it; Jesus the Good Shepherd confesses the same, saying, “I Am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, One Shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.” David was only a man, Jesus is both Man and God, therefore Jesus can lay down His life and pick it up, yet Jesus is also the Son of God the Father and is in perfect communion with Him, trusting God the Father in a way that Saul and Judas (and even David) could not. In Psalm 16 David speaks of his personal trust in the LORD, which is near perfect, but Psalm 16 more rightly speaks of Jesus’ trust in God which was and is and ever shall be perfect.
God protected David from death while Saul sought after him. But eventually David did see death, and he was buried. Jesus, even though He was taken that night by Judas and was falsely convicted and murdered by execution, crucified before many witnesses and was buried dead in the tomb, didn’t remain dead. On the third day after His death Jesus did something David didn’t do, Jesus was resurrected from the dead and then after spending time with His disciple Peter and the others Jesus was bodily ascended into heaven. And on the day of Pentecost, that day that Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, on that day filled with the same Holy Spirit Saint Peter preaches to the people gathered in Jerusalem quoting the last half of Psalm 16 preaching that David thus spoke of Jesus saying,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let Your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’"
[Peter continues saying] “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that He would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that [the Christ] was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus, God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”
Good Christian friends, in the midst of David’s troubles God inspired Him with this Psalm of Hope, a Psalm that pointed to the Christ, the coming Salvation. In it we see the prophetic words of David sketching out in advance the nature of Jesus: One Who was driven from His home by King Herod to live His early life in Egypt; One Who would be anointed by John the Baptizer; One Who stood victoriously in the face of other gods when Jesus denied the temptations of the devil in the wilderness; One Who trusted God the Father; One Who was obedient and unshaken in the face of death upon the cross; One Who was resurrected from the dead and Whose Body has seen no corruption.
The Prayer of Psalm 16 is David’s prayer of trust in the face of Death and the temptations to abandon God and His promises; Psalm 16 is also a prayer looking forward to Christ, and in Christ Jesus Psalm 16 is Christ’s prayer of resolve and courage and trust in the face of the cross: Therefore Psalm 16 is likewise now your prayer: “As followers of Christ who pray “Thy will be done,” we can make this prayer our own. Our first love is God. We need nothing more than Him. We love the fellowship of his people ... We don’t run after the world’s idols, whatever form they may take, and don’t conform to the ways of the world.” “Because Christ humbled Himself and drank from the cup of suffering, He is now exalted as Savior and Lord and now drinks the cup of eternal pleasure and joy,” in Him, through the gift of our baptism we have every hope that we too will share in a resurrection like His.
For the sake of His Son, Jesus the Christ, God will not abandon your soul to Hell, or let you (His Baptised Child) His holy one see corruption. God has made known to you the path of life, Christ Jesus Who is the Way; in the real presence of Jesus there is fullness of joy in this life; at God’s right hand in heaven there will be pleasures forevermore. If you are tempted to run after other gods, repent, and return to the Lord you God for He “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” If you are tempted to lack trust in God like Saul and Judas remember that Christ had perfect trust in His Heavenly Father and forgiveness is yours by the blood He shed upon the cross in His sufferings and death. For His Hope David pointed to the coming Christ, for your hope: You too, in this prayer, can point to the Christ who has come! The One we celebrate this Christmas Season and all through the year! David’s Hope, Your Hope, and the Hope of all who hope in God. Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord, have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
1 Samuel 13:14
1 Samuel 16:1-13
1 Samuel 13
1 Samuel 13:13-14
1 Samuel 18:11-15
1 Samuel 19:10-18
1 Samuel 23:15
1 Samuel 22:1-2
1 Samuel 26:2
1 Samuel 26:11-12
1 Samuel 26:18-20
A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, John F. Burg, pg 223.
Ibid, pg 227.