The Contentment – Psalm 16

This idiom, “a contented mind is a perpetual feast”, tells us the benefit of contentment. King Solomon recorded a similar theme in a different way saying that the cheerful heart has a continual feast (Proverbs 15:15). The cheerfulness of our heart depends on the fulfilment of our heart’s desires. If our cheerfulness is the outcome of accomplishing our evil desires, then our hearts can not be contented. But we will be longing for the fulfilment of our heart’s evil desires more and more as the days go on. There will be no end to it, and we will gradually lose our peace of mind.

This Psalm reflects the contentment of David’s heart irrespective of the constant threat to his life. From this, we can discern that contentment is not the outcome of the fulfilment of the heart’s desire as one can be contented even in a life-threatening situation if he knows who God is. The contentment of our heart depends on what we desire. A person who is crazy about the latest electronic gadget can never get contentment, as day after day improved versions come into the market. Whereas the person who trusts God will be contented because God never changes, and His love endures forever.

The Trust

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing.”

Psalms 16:1-2

The enemies of David chased him everywhere to kill him and he did not find safety anywhere else other than with God. As we live a comfortable life, we do not know the difference between dangerous zones and safety zones. Often we assume dangerous places as our safest places based on the material riches of this world. But David had no other good things than fellowship with His God. What are the other things that appear to us better than God? For us, the reason for our fellowship with God depends on the material blessings He bestows on us. David felt safe in His presence and took refuge in Him while he had lost his palatial residence.

I say of the holy people who are in the land,

“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

Psalms 16:3

Also, David regarded the people of God more than the noblemen, and he delighted in them. Unlike David, many people respect only to the noblemen and find fault with the people of God, as though noblemen do not have any such folly. Only when we trust God will we be comfortable with His people.

The Commitment

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.

I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods

or take up their names on my lips.

Psalms 16:4

Who will run after other gods? A person who did not taste God or the one who did not experience His love only run after other gods. These people are not searching for God, but they search for their fortunes. In the pursuit of finding riches, they keep on changing gods or even creating gods according to their convenience. Even the people of God do the same thing when they do not receive any answer to their prayers. They too run here and there, but fortunately within the boundaries of their God. If this unstable condition continues, there are chances for them to go beyond His boundaries. Isaiah warned the people of God not to seek other sources else they will be thrust into utter darkness. Why should people consult the dead on behalf of the living (Isaiah 8:19)?

In the present context, there is no need for pouring out libations of blood, as Jesus poured out His blood by hanging on the cross to wash away our sins. David made a commitment not to take the names of other gods on his lips. He was not afraid of those gods as he knew they did not have life in them but he realised that he was dethroning God while taking the names of the other gods. Anyone who accepts the existence of God and does not trust Him, unknowingly uncrowns the Sovereign God.

The Protection

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;

you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me

in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalms 16:5-6

God said to the priests in the days of Moses, “I am your portion and your inheritance (Numbers 18:20)”. Somehow David foresaw those days when God ordained every believer a royal priest (1 Peter 2:9) and made God his portion and cup. David also understood that God would protect everything He had given to him, and he acknowledged it in this Psalm. God saved us from our sin and gave us a new life, and secured our salvation by giving us the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). As the priests obtained from inheriting their forefather’s land, God assured them an inheritance at His place. David could see the boundaries that God had laid for him and was delighted to inherit eternity, years before seeing the days of the Messiah. While people of God have an insecure feeling of losing their salvation any time, David was sure that the God who gave him the salvation was also capable of protecting it till the end (Jude 1:24-25).

The Decision

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep my eyes always on the LORD.

With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalms 16:7-8

David decided to fix his eyes on the Lord and have him at his right hand. This decision gave him courage, and he was sure that nothing would shake him. People of God, sometimes are even afraid of proclaiming their testimonies, fearing that blowing the trumpet may invite trouble, and they keep silent. Some other sects do not want to resist the devil, thinking that it might kindle their anger, and they decide to live along with the problems the devil has imposed in their lives.

We make these mistakes because we are not aware of God and His character. We do not want to understand the characteristics of God, and we are only keen on placing our petitions in His hand. The trivial problems prevailing in our lives predominates us, and we fail to see who God is. A clear understanding of who God is will fetch answers to all our unanswered prayers.

While prophesying the birth of Jesus, Isaiah addressed Him as a “wonderful counsellor” (Isaiah 9:7). Even centuries before the prophecy, David was able to experience the Lord as a wonderful counsellor. If we walk with Him daily, day by day, we will come to know of His character, and God will impart His character in us. The Psalmist had brought out this truth more elaborately in Psalm 32:8. A closer walk with Jesus will do away the trial and error efforts that we undertake to know Him more and more. We ought to grow in His knowledge and love day after day.

The Hope

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

Psalms 16:9-10

Because of these verses, some Bible scholars think that the whole Psalm is about the life of Jesus. Job had a revelation that his Redeemer is living, and in the end, He will stand on the earth (Job 19:25). Because of this, one cannot conclude that the whole book of Job is about Jesus. God set apart His people to bring them closer to Him to reveal the secrets of heaven. Amidst our sufferings, God shows us the secrets of heaven, but we will not understand those secrets at that juncture but compare it to our life situations. Ultimately God will make us prophesy His forthcoming Kingdom’s plans to the people if we hold on to Him. If we hold on to Jesus, during our difficult times, He will not only teach us to overcome that but also reveal His Kingdom’s secret as He did with His disciple John at the isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).

As a fugitive, David asked God to protect him from his enemies, but God revealed the greatest secret of the resurrection of His Son Jesus, which David would not have understood. Only after the resurrection of Jesus, we figure out the prophecy made by David. The fulfilment of the prophecies of God will be public property for the coming generations, and definitely, it does not belong to any individual or any specific period.

The Assurance

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalms 16:11

This Psalm, from its beginning to the end, reflects the contentment of David in God. He started the Psalm as a fugitive seeking refugee in God by trusting Him. With genuine commitment, he felt the protection of God in everything He gave him. Towards the end, he was content with the presence of God and was longing to stay forever at the right hand of God. He had learned to enjoy the flavor of the Kingdom of God on the earth itself. Jesus came to this world to show us the way to His Father, but David had the privilege of finding that path and proclaiming it to us centuries before the birth of the Messiah. If we know who God is, we will not be waiting for His prophecies to believe in Him, but will be with Him in spirit with contentment while He unfolds His secrets.

God, Open our eyes to understand who you are to us and help us rely on you to preserve the salvation you provided us. Give us the contentment that David had in you.

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