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Psalm 16

Song of Trust and Security in God

A Miktam of David.


Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.


I say to the L ord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”



As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,

in whom is all my delight.



Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names upon my lips.



The L ord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.


The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

I have a goodly heritage.



I bless the L ord who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.


I keep the L ord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.



Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;

my body also rests secure.


For you do not give me up to Sheol,

or let your faithful one see the Pit.



You show me the path of life.

In your presence there is fullness of joy;

in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

This is a prayer in which David commits himself to the protection of God. He does not, however, here implore the aid of God, in some particular emergency, as he often does in other psalms, but he beseeches him to show himself his protector during the whole course of his life, and indeed our safety both in life and in death depends entirely upon our being under the protection of God. What follows concerning trust, signifies much the same thing as if the Holy Spirit assured us by the mouth of David, that God is ready to succor all of us, provided we rely upon him with a sure and steadfast faith; and that he takes under his protection none but those who commit themselves to him with their whole heart. At the same time, we must be reminded that David, supported by this trust, continued firm and unmoved amidst all the storms of adversity with which he was buffeted.

Psalm 16:2-3

2. Thou shalt say unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord, my well-doing extendeth not unto thee. 3. Unto the saints who are on the earth, and to the excellent; all my delight is in them.


2. Thou shalt say unto Jehovah. David begins by stating that he can bestow nothing upon God, not only because God stands in no need of any thing, but also because mortal man cannot merit the favor of God by any service which he can perform to him. At the same time, however, he takes courage, and, as God accepts our devotion, and the service which we yield to him, David protests that he will be one of his servants. To encourage himself the more effectually to this duty he speaks to his own soul; for the Hebrew word which is rendered Thou shalt say, is of the feminine gender, which can refer only to the soul. 305305     The word, נפשי, naphshi, is commonly supposed to be understood, Thou, my soul, shalt say, or hast said. But all the ancient versions, except the Chaldee, read in the first person, I have said, and this is the reading in many MSS. The words, however, “Thou, my soul, hast said,” are equivalent to “I have said.” Some may prefer reading the word in the past tense, Thou hast said, which I think is unobjectionable, for the Psalmist is speaking of an affliction which had a continued abode in his soul. The import of his language is, I am, indeed, fully convinced in my heart, and know assuredly, that God can derive no profit or advantage from me; but notwithstanding this, I will join myself in fellowship with the saints, that with one accord we may worship him by the sacrifices of praise. Two things are distinctly laid down in this verse. The first is, that God has a right to require of us whatever he pleases, seeing we are wholly bound to Him as our rightful proprietor and Lord. David, by ascribing to him the power and the dominion of Lord, declares that both himself and all he possessed are the property of God. The other particular contained in this verse is, the acknowledgement which the Psalmist makes of his own indigence. My well-doing extendeth not unto thee. Interpreters expound this last clause in two ways. As עליך, aleyka, may be rendered upon thee, some draw from it this sense, that God is not brought under obligation, or in the least degree indebted to us, by any good deeds which we may perform to him; and they understand the term goodness in a passive sense, as if David affirmed that whatever goodness he received from God did not proceed from any obligation he had laid God under, or from any merit which he possessed. But I think the sentence has a more extensive meaning, namely, that let men strive ever so much to lay themselves out for God, yet they can bring no advantage to him. Our goodness extendeth not to him, not only because, having in himself alone an all-sufficiency, he stands in need of nothing, 306306     The Septuagint reads, Των ἀγαθων μου ου χρειαν ἐχεις Thou hast no need of my goodness, [or good things.] The reading in Tyndale Bible, “My goods are nothing unto thee.” but also because we are empty and destitute of all good things, and have nothing with which to show ourselves liberal towards him. From this doctrine, however, the other point which I have before touched upon will follow, namely, that it is impossible for men, by any merits of their own, to bring God under obligation to them, so as to make him their debtor. The sum of the discourse is, that when we come before God, we must lay aside all presumption. When we imagine that there is any good thing in us, we need not wonder if he reject us, as we thus take away from him a principal part of the honor which is his due. But, on the contrary, if we acknowledge that all the services which we can yield him are in themselves things of nought, and undeserving of any recompense, this humility is as a perfume of a sweet odour, which will procure for them acceptance with God.

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