Psalm 16 - More than refined gold - My welfare's not Your burden
This Psalm is the 1st Psalm called "Michtam". There are only 6 Michtam Psalms: 16 & 56-60. "Michtam" appears in only one other verse in the Bible, Isaiah 13:12, where it is translated "more than refined gold".
I knew that this Psalm is a top Psalm because it is quoted in Acts concerning Christ, but I found this Psalm harder to enjoy than most others. Usually, it takes me at most one week after memorizing a Psalm to enjoy it. But Psalm 16 took me two weeks of singing it while driving and getting ready in the morning. At first it was doctrinal, but now it is sweet and sustaining.
Watchman Nee says that Psalm 16 answers the questions asked at the beginning of Psalm 15, "Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tabernacle. Who shall dwell in Your holy mountain." "Your holy mountain" in Ps 15 refers to the New Jerusalem. In the New Jerusalem, there is one street of pure gold, signifying that the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem walk according to the divine nature of God. Likewise, this Psalm is a "michtam", "more than refined gold", and shows us the pathway of life and the Lord's counsel and correction. This life of intimately following the Lord's counsel is the golden street of the New Jerusalem.
v1 We experience all the experiences of Christ's life by trusting in Him.
v2 The Hebrew says "You (2nd person feminine singular) said to Jehovah ...". This doesn't make sense because there is no female antecedent for "You". For the Hebrew word for "said", the 2nd person feminine singular and 2nd person masculine singular differ only in the vowels, which were not part of the original inspired text. I think that when the scribes added the vowels to this word, which was done some time after the 1st century AD, they made it feminine so that it could not refer back to "God", for that would make for two "God's" in their eyes: God in v1 talking to Jehovah in v2. They dared not alter the sacred consonants, so all they could do by adding the vowels was to make it feminine.
I believe the antecedent of "You" in v2 is "God" whom I take refuge in in v1. This Psalm is mostly Jesus, who is God, talking to Jehovah, His Lord. This is similar to Psalm 110, which is Jehovah talking to Jesus, David's Lord. Peter puts both of these psalms together in his preaching on the day of Pentecost: Psalm 16 (Acts 2:25-28) and Psalm 110 (Acts 2:34-35).
KJV and many others translate this verse as "My soul, you've said to the Lord ..." to make David talking to himself. The words "My soul" are not in the inspired text. There is no other place in the Old Testament where words such as "my soul" are added to provide a different subject from the antecedent.
Some others (NAS, RSV, Leupold) translate it as "I have said to Jehovah .." according to LXX. This is to say that the Hebrew text is in error and that the LXX translated from a different Hebrew text which said "I have said" instead of "You have said". It makes much more sense that LXX mistranslated it because Jews could not conceive of "God" talking to Jehovah. This verse is not preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The 2nd part of the verse is literally, "My good is not upon You." The Hebrew word for "good", tov, when used as a noun, can be either feminine or masculine. When it appears as a feminine noun, as it does here, it means prosperity, good things, or welfare, not virtues. Thus, I translated "good" as "welfare" here.
The Hebrew preposition al, means most literally "upon", which doesn't make meaningful English here. It can mean a physical location upon, over, or next to. It also often has the abstracted meaning of a burden upon or against (Gen 16:5, etc). Many translate it similar to "I have no good apart from You". This is wrong because al does not have the meaning "apart from". Others translate it as "my good is not above You." This also is wrong because that makes "good" to mean virtues.
I believe that here the Lord Jesus tells the Father, You are My Lord. Do not be concerned about My material welfare. All My delight is in Your people. Do whatever You want with Me to make them holy and excellent.
v3 The Lord Jesus loved sinners and was wearied with the religious people. Why does verse 3, then say His delight is in the holy and glorious on the earth? Because He sees the sinners not as remaining sinners, but becoming human beings of great worth expressing the glory of God in genuine humanity.
This is the thought in the parable in Matthew 13:44. The man who sold all is the Lord, the treasure is hidden in the saints, and the field is the earth.
Matt 13:44 The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hid in the field, which a man having found has hid, and for the joy of it goes and sells all whatever he has, and buys that field.
Romans 9:23-34 and that He might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared for glory, us, whom He has also called, not only from among the Jews, but also from among the gentiles?
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her
26 That He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word,
27 That He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.
v4 Most translators add the word "god" to this verse, as in "haste after another god". I do not think that is the meaning. The word is not there in the Hebrew; it doesn't fit the rest of the Psalm, and it does not fit the Lord's life on earth.
It means to haste after something or someone other than Lord Himself and delighting in His people, or other than the portion which the Lord has alloted to each one of us (v5). "Haste" means not to depend on the Lord and His timing. This "hasting" will cause the direction to be not toward the Lord, even if the intention was originally for the Lord. The "drink offerings of blood" show that the thing being hasted after is something supposedly for the Lord, especially some work. It is "of blood" because it is using the Lord's people as merchandise to further the work, rather than serving the saints.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I lay for foundation in Zion a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste.
"Their names" are the names of those who are hasting after another. There is no need to speak of their names good or bad. The Lord will manifest their fruit. Furthermore, you may be wrong in judging them, and then your speaking evil of them would be slander.
v5 Wherever the Lord puts us is the most pleasant place. It is crazy to haste for a seemingly higher position. We should also not be falsely humble to deny what the Lord has measured to us. What the Lord has measured to us is the best. We do not need to haste to obtain our place before someone else fills it. The Lord maintains our lot.
The Lord's lot, and the lines that fell to him were to bear the cross and die for sinners.
v7 This is why it is good to sleep on something before making a decision. If speaking for the Lord, or giving a presentation at work, I like to prepare at least the day before, so that I can get the benefit of sleeping on it.
"Reins" is literally "kidneys". It is used 31 times in the Old Testament, 13 of which it means the inward parts of our being. It is part of our human makeup, and is not always one with God because God tries the inward parts (i.e. Jer 11:20). The corresponding Greek word is used only once in the New Testament in Rev 2:23 "... and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the inward parts and the hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your works."
v8 The Lord's counsel working together with our inward parts guide and instruct us to set the Lord before us always at our right hand.
Peter quoted this Psalm on the day of Pentecost starting at this verse (Acts 2:25-28). Peter's point, that the Christ would be raised from the dead, starts with the next verse in this psalm. Peter may have included v8 because it mentions the "right hand" wihich Peter will come to next when he comes to Christ's ascension.
v9 Setting the Lord before me at all times, and at my right hand, makes my whole being, body, soul and spirit, to be glad.
Peter quoted the LXX translation of this verse (Acts 2:26), which translates "glory" as "tongue". DSS agrees with the Hebrew MT text. Our tongue can be our glory or our shame.
v10 This can only apply to the Lord Jesus because only He was raised from the dead before His body decayed, never to die again (Acts 2:25-32;13:34-38).
v11 Through His counsel to us and our reigns instructing us in the nights, the Lord shows us the path of life. The Lord is not interested in us following an exact doctrinally correct highway, but the path of life, the step-by-step walk that expresses His divine life in our relationship to others. The path of life is the golden street of the New Jerusalem, which we can tread today as a foretaste of that paradise of God. The path of life is a life always in His presence. "Path of life" mainly relates to other human beings, while "His presence" is our relationship with God. The Lord Jesus continually had both, and so should we.
The path of life is in contrast to "haste" in v4. Those who haste skip the experiences of life in verses 4b-10 to obtain what they think they should have or do. To obtain the pathways of life:
1. Don't make a show of offering or service. Be more concerned about being right with God and man than the amount of offering or work. v4
2. Neither uplift nor criticize names of men. v4
3. Appreciate where the Lord has placed you and labor there. v5-6
4. Seek the Lord's counsel, from the Lord directly to you. v7
5. Listen to your inward parts instructing you in the nights. v7
6. Always be in the Lord's presence. v8
7. Keep the Lord at your right hand in all your doings. v8
8. Let your heart be continually glad, your spirit exult, and your flesh rest in hope. v9
9. Experience the Lord's resurrection life in suffering. v10
The 2nd 1/2 of this verse can also refer only to the Lord Jesus, because He is the One at the right hand of the Father. His joy is passed on to us through our connection to Him. Hebrews 1: 9,13 "You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy above Your partners'';
... But to which of the angels has He ever said, "Sit at My right hand until I set Your enemies as a footstool for Your feet''?
For some reason that I cannot tell, Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, stopped short of the 2nd 1/2 of this verse when he quoted it on Pentecost (Acts 2:28). This 2nd 1/2 of v11 tells us that Jesus is at God's right hand, which is Peter's next point (Acts 2:33-35). Besides MT, the 2nd 1/2 of v11 is in LXX and DSS.
2/16/2017 - I think the reason Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, did not quote the 2nd 1/2 of v11 in Acts 2 is because that part is yet to be fulfilled. Jesus is at God's right hand enjoying the fulness of joy, but not pleasures. Those will wait until His 2nd coming (Mat 26:29).
revised 2/21/2015 copyright Steve Miller