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    Psalm Sixteen: You Will Not Leave My Soul in Sheol!

    Images of the Savior from the Psalms
    Psalm Sixteen: You Will Not Leave My Soul in Sheol!

    Everywhere in the Psalms, as we have often seen before, David speaks not primarily with regard to himself alone, as a mere individual; but rather, being the anointed King and representative of the people, he comes before God in their behalf as a type of Christ, the true King and Messiah and Mediator of the people, and pleads blessings for them from God. But in a few places, David's office as a type and shadow of Christ is overwhelmed, as it were, by the brightness of the glory of the One prefigured, so that his own voice is all but lost, and the radiance of the glory of God is seen so clearly that it is as if the very Son of God were speaking alone and unmediated.

    That this psalm is indeed one of those psalms in which the voice of Christ himself falls most sweetly and unmistakably upon the ears of all his saints is not just immediately plain in the psalm itself, but the truth finds testimony in the inspired New Testament apostles, as well, who treated of this passage: For David did not speak of himself, the apostle Peter testifies of this psalm, “but looking ahead he spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that, 'he was not left in Hades, neither did his flesh see corruption'” (Acts 2:31; Psalm 16:10).

    And is it not fitting that the Christ should here be overheard praying to the Father? For very often, when he became a man, he prayed to the Father all night, and sometimes let us overhear him, not for his sake but for our own (Jn. 11:42; 17); and in all his many prayers and supplications, which he offered up with tears and loud cries to the One who was able to save him from death, he was heard for his perfect piety and obedience (Heb. 5:7). So in this prayer, too, which through the mouth of the prophet David he let us overhear for the edification of our faith, he was heard and answered.

    And for what surpassingly sweet and wonderful things, not just for his sake but for our own eternal good, did he plead in this prayer! Jesus, the Messiah and representative of the people, did not trust in the arm of the flesh or in twelve legions of angels, but committed himself to God (Mat. 26:53-54; 1 Pet. 2:23) and took refuge in him alone (vs. 1). He found no good but in the Lord alone (vs. 1) – and so he set all his heart on obtaining that eternal and all-encompassing good, that is, of accounting God his own God; and in his pursuit of God, as the anointed King and Head and Representative of his people, he was successful, and was able to say, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup” (vs. 5). But wonder of wonders, even having obtained as a man this most blessed Lord and God as his own portion, he was not satisfied until he had another portion from God! For he delighted in all the saints, those whom the Father had chosen for him, and he accounted them to be his inheritance from the Lord (vss. 3, 6).

    Only pause a moment to drink in the wonder of these two most precious of truths, and the eternal delight that their joint confluence has for us: the Christ who here speaks has taken us, his people, unto himself as a portion from the Lord, and he has made the Lord God his own portion; this means, that we are in Christ and Christ is in God, we are Christ's and Christ is God's (1 Cor. 3:22-23) and we can no more be separated from God than can Christ, who has forever won the Lord as his own portion and lot! How like is this prayer to that later prayer of the Lord, just before he offered himself up, when he prayed “that they might be one in us,” and again, “I in them and you in me” (Jn. 17:21, 23). And also, his prayer is the same in this respect, that in both places he prays for his saints, in whom is all his delight, and whom the Father has chosen to be his portion; but he explicitly disavows the wicked, for whom he will not pray at all (vs. 4; John 17:9).

    But most precious of all, in this wonderful prayer, is that confession of Christ that God is at his right hand, and that he will never therefore be shaken (vs. 8), no, not even by death itself – even as later the psalmist would say, “For [God] stands at the right hand of the needy one,” that is, of Christ, who humbled himself so thoroughly that he would not at all lean on his own strength but cast himself entirely upon his God, “to save his life from those who condemn him” (Psalm 109:31). How sorely was the Savior tempted to despair! But God gave him counsel, in his nighttime seasons of prayer his heart was instructed (vs. 7), so that, even in his direst need, when the Cross of Calvary loomed before him with unspeakable terror, still he looked ahead to the joy that was set before him, and his whole being rejoiced (vss. 7, 9; Heb. 12:2). And in this great need of his he was not forsaken, but God, even as Christ so fully trusted that he would do, knowing his own piety and how fully he deserved to be delivered from the pit, raised him up indeed, and satisfied him with fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore (vss. 10-11).

    Can you not see the Savior, O child of his, bowed down in prayer with his heart all in an agony, finding comfort and joy in the sure hope of the resurrection that his God would grant to him, seeing that he was always at his right hand? Can you not see him pleading for his saints, in whom is all his delight, and winning the joys of his eternal presence for them all? Can you not see him steeling his resolve and strengthening himself even in an agony of sorrow unto death with an unwavering faith in his coming resurrection and vindication? Can you not hear the words of this prayer dropping, not from David's, but from Jesus' own blessed lips, ah, how sweet beyond expression with comfort and grace and eternal riches for all who are his? Dear Christian! This prayer is yours, for Christ has made you his portion from the Father, and when he prayed thus, it was with you in his heart and graven upon his breast, as your true High Priest who ever lives and intercedes for you (Heb. 7:24-25).

    Posted by Nathan on August 23, 2010 11:42 AM

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