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.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.
11 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 16:1-11

Everyone needs a place of stability in their life. Even the most dramatic risk-takers among us have to have a place of stability that they can count on if their latest risk goes bad.

David was a risk taker. As a teen-ager he took on the greatest current enemy of Israel and with his five stones and a slingshot killed the giant that filled the hearts of stronger men with fear.

David was able to take his risks because he had made God his refuge and the source of all in him that was good. (verse 2)

David pointed out to his readers of this Psalm that those who run after another god, even the Israelites who also supposedly worship Yahweh but also participate in the worship of other gods, shall have sorrows that multiply. This should be fair warning to we who claim to be Jesus-followers. Have no idols. Let this be our prayer:

Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

The last phrase in Psalm 86:11 is translated in the New International Version as, “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” The idea David is getting at is that my heart fears only God and no one else, not man and not other gods. Our hearts are to have no idols.

In some cultures, those idols are literal idols with their statues and specific rules of worship whether it is in witchcraft or Buddhism or any other religion than the worship of the One who created all things, sustains all things, and will ultimately make all things new. For many of us in the West, our idols are subtle. We tend to make idols out of money, success, prestige and other things we value more than God.

Regardless of who or what our false gods may be, they will multiply sorrows to us.

But David reveals his secret. The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. David’s foundation in life is God himself.

What does that look like to have God as our portion and our cup?

He gives us counsel, in the night our hearts instruct us. When we are God-besotted, our hearts hear from the LORD and we a led by him during the quiet times. His Word overflows from our hearts to our minds and we are directed.

David’s focus was fairly consistently on the LORD (though not always as we know and this is good news for us who are less than perfect). “The LORD is always before me…” “Because he is at my right hand I shall not be shaken.” David’s stability was in God himself. So can ours be.

What does this stability create for us?

I love that I have learned to read the Scriptures with a better eye to key words. In this case a key word is, “therefore.” David says,

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.

Psalm 16:9

I would call this being God-besotted, my whole being rejoices in God. Some translations translate this as “my glory rejoices.” That is a more literal translation but fails to communicate the meaning well. The word translated “glory” or “whole being” is the Hebrew word, kabod. Variously this word group means, be heavy, grevious, hard, rich, honorable, glorious.1 Without getting lost in the technicalities, the idea here is that all that made David a man of honor and glory, his whole being, rejoices in God who is his refuge and his portion.

The product of David’s God-besotted condition?

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

“Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” says David. This inheritance is not limited to King David but comes to us through the true King David about whom this Psalm refers in verse 10. Jesus is our refuge, he is our LORD, we have no good apart from him. Apart from him we are dead in trespasses and sin, sorrows multiply without him. We have nothing to look forward to but an empty death, separated from God’s lovingkindness and doomed to eternal punishment. What a contrast: eternal punishment or a beautiful inheritance. What makes the difference? Simply trusting in the gospel, the good news that Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf, died on our behalf, and rose again to bring us with him one day. We can’t be as those who worship Jesus and idols with multiplied sorrows.

If you find you are not God-besotted, repentance from having other gods is your path. Then will your whole being be able to rejoice.

  1. Harris, R. Laird, Archer, Gleason L. Jr., Waltke, Bruce K., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Vol. 1 [Chicago: Moody Press].