Rest in Hope

PSALM 16

A Michtam of David.

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”

As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
 Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.

10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

This psalm is gold! That’s why it’s called a “michtam.” This ancient Hebrew expression was used to describe a poem or song worthy of being engraved in tablets of gold. The Greek equivalent would be “poiema” which God’s Word uses to describe those who are in Christ. (Workmanship in Ephesians 2:10) We are His song. All tarnish has been stripped away. God only sees gold in His children. My hope in looking at Psalm 16 is that we would only see gold. This song is not only precious; it is highly practical, for in it we find everything we need for spiritual rest.

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

This is a cry for protection. The psalmist counted on the Lord to watch over Him. That’s the idea behind preserve. The Hebrew word used was shamar, which means ‘to guard.’ Do you struggle with worry, fear or anxiety? Do what David did. Cry out to God. Ask Him to guard your every thought. Trust Him with your every concern.

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
 “You are my Lord,
 my goodness is nothing apart from You.”

It’s one thing for your lips to say, “You are my Lord!” Do you mean it deep down? Can you truly say with your soul, You are my Lord? Is He Lord over your struggles, worries and fears? Is He Lord over your time? You’ll know He’s not if you spend the bulk of it fretting. That’s a clear indication that your burdens are lording over you.

David took his burdens to the Lord. “My goodness is nothing apart from You,” he declared. If I might paraphrase, David was telling God: “My efforts are meaningless. There’s no benefit to my striving. Nothing I do makes things better. I’m done.” That’s a good place to be. It shows you’re ready to hand things over and stop sweating over them.

As for the saints who are on the earth,
 “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

I was taught that for one to be a saint he had to be real good and real dead. I didn’t meet either qualification, nor was I in a hurry to. According to scripture, saints are fellow believers. While many have passed away, there are countless others among the living. Those are the ones we typically have issues with.

When we’re distant from God, there’s a tendency to develop an attitude toward His kids. We blame them for our woes, or at least for contributing to them. They’re never there for me. They don’t care. I don’t even want to go to church. Besides, they’ll probably just judge me.  That’s typically how it is. When you’re down on yourself, you’re down on everyone else. It only brings you down further.

Pressing into the Lord results in an attitude adjustment. He gently reminds us of the worth He places on His people. Those are my kids, He says. They’re gold. Jesus died for each one. That’s how much I value each precious saint. If you don’t love them, you don’t truly love me! That’s when we say, Sorry, Lord, you’re right. Your kids are special. They are the excellent ones.

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
 nor take up their names on my lips.

In David’s day there were all kinds of gods. People bowed to some strange image carved from wood or stone. There was the god of water, the god of the harvest, the god of mammon and an unholy host of others. These idols were the go-to gods for every need. Now, we’re too sophisticated for that. However, we still go around God as needs arise – which only multiplies our sorrows. God wants us to come to Him. He longs to turn our sorrows into laughter and our mourning into dancing.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
 You maintain my lot.

Here the psalmist sings, You’re my all and all! Is that your song? Or, are you singing the blues? Perhaps you find yourself crooning: I’ve inherited nothing but trouble. My cup is filled with woe. My lot in life is to suffer and worry.  If that’s you, God wants to make a trade: Your inheritance for His, your cup for His and your lot for His.

I’ll never forget the day I made this trade. I inherited a lot of baggage in life. Anxiety runs rampant in my family. It was passed onto me. I also inherited deep wounds from childhood abuse. I inherited many things I don’t like, things I never asked for. They filled my cup with dread. I was convinced that being a victim was my only lot in life. Well, one day I made a trade with God: my inheritance for His. Today He is my portion. He is my cup. Now my lot in life is to know, love and trust Him.

I don’t know what you’ve inherited. Perhaps you have family baggage. Maybe the world unloaded a heap of unpleasantness on you. Well, you have a choice. You can say: This dung is my portion. This dung is my cup. This dung is my lot. Or you can hand it off to the Lord and let Him take that nasty cup. That’s His specialty.

Do you realize that the death Jesus suffered was your cup? He took care of it for you. He took the cup of death so you could drink from the cup of life. He wants all our miserable cups. No need to hang onto them anymore. So, if you would, pass the cup, please.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
 Yes, I have a good inheritance.

This was David’s way of saying, “I scored big time!” Rather than fixate on present problems, he focused on the future promises. We would to well to follow his example. Instead of looking down and moping, “Is this all there is?” look up and declare, “I have more than I could ever deserve!”

 I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

Nighttime is often associated with tossing and turning in bed. Admittedly, there are occasions when I have a lot on my mind and can’t sleep. I quit worrying about it. I figure as long as I’m up, I might as well bless the Lord. Eventually I drift off. Even if I don’t, my soul is rested. I encourage you to try this. If you can’t sleep for whatever reason, may your heart instruct you to pray, that you might find rest in the Lord.

 I have set the Lord always before me;
 because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

The key to stability is consistency. Set the Lord always before you and you shall not be moved. You won’t be shaken by trials. You won’t be thrown off kilter by difficulty. Don’t be a part time lover. Keep the Lord always before you. David purposed to do this. “I have set the Lord always before me,” he declares. It’s a choice one makes. We can set our worries always before us, or we can set the Lord always before us. Choose the latter or you’ll only add to your sorrows.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
 My flesh also will rest in hope.

One huge perk of God’s presence is hope. We can be glad in it and rest in it! This is one reason why we’ll never find rest in the world. It’s hopeless. But where there is God there is hope, and where there is hope we can breathe a whole lot easier. I’m glad about that, aren’t you?

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
 nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

At Pentecost, Peter pointed to the resurrection of Christ as the fulfillment of this passage. Jesus did not remain in the grave. He rose unto life eternal. This gives us hope as well. We won’t be left in the grave either. Jesus promises to raise us up.

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 Here are more perks of God’s presence! This is why we can rest in Him. For one, He shows us the path of life. The world shows us the path of death. Why look to it? In His presence is the fullness of joy! You won’t find that in the world either. You might get your kicks, but the world kicks back. It leaves you empty.

While the pleasures of this world are short lived, the Lord offers pleasures forevermore. Why settle for less? Why turn to this kingdom in your time of need? You’ll only be disappointed! Set the Lord always before you. Let Him be your portion, your cup and your lot. Whatever you’ve inherited from this world – let Him have it! Take His inheritance and rest. Let the Lord fill your cup with joy forevermore.

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