Psalm 16: the Golden Secret Psalm
Psalm 16 A Miktam of David (1) Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. (2) I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing." (3) I say of the holy people who are in the land, "They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight." (4) 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. (5) LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. (6) The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have delightful inheritance. (7) I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. (8) I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (9) Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, (10) because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. (11) 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.
The Miktam/Michtam title is found in six psalms (16, 56-60) and is commonly understood to mean “golden.” The Hebrew word also means “to cover,” like “to cover one’s mouth with a secret.” Let’s put the two meanings together and conclude that this is a golden nugget of a psalm that David secretly treasured in his heart.
In summary, Psalm 16 says that when we fully put our trust in the Lord, He will bring us through this life, unto death, and then into the next life where we will abide with Him forever and ever. That is His promise, and that is what David is singing of here.
David spends the first seven verses petitioning God to save him, “preserve me.”
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. Psalm 16:1
In verse 8, David then claims this preservation. Even though David seems to be struggling and begging for help, his confidence in the Lord is unshakable.
Is this relatable?
When you present a request or a worry or fear before the Lord, do your knees wobble sometimes with uncertainty? Are you unsure that you should even ask this or if He really even cares about these small things? Do you stand before Him uncertainly at first, but like a good father, as you share and give and let go, you can stand up a little straighter because of His great love?
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8b Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8b ESV
David’s psalms are often like this: a worry, a petition, a fear shared is turned to confidence in the goodness and faithfulness of God- regardless of the outcome.
But what exactly is David so worried about in this psalm?
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8
David states his surety. I am keeping my eyes on the Lord, always! And then with that statement comes the great, “therefore of joy.” Like a realization, an idea that hits him, or a small voice that was always there reassuring and reminding him of what is, in fact, important in life.
Therefore, my heart is glad Psalm 16:9a
What is it that David needs?
David never want to be without the Lord, even at the end of his life. He seeks reassurance of this promise.
my body will rest secure. Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 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. Psalm 16:9b-11
And in these verses David claims that what God has always been for him, He will be forever.
Do you ever wonder about heaven? We talk to God through prayer in thislife. He can be our best friend, the one we go to first, the one who sees us through hard times and good times. But in heaven, will we just have to get in line to talk with our best friend again?
What will that be like? Will our relationship with God be as personal in heaven as it is here?
David is claiming that the relationship that he cares most about, that he treasures here in this life, will continue in the next. There will be no line of saints to get to God. He will walk right next to each of us . . . like He does now. Only we see Him- finally.
We may not understand how. Many things about God are hard for our minds to comprehend.
But did God’s people of the Old Testament know about heaven like we do now? Did they know about Jesus? They did not have the New Testament stories of the Bible; Jesus had not yet walked the earth.
David knew Him.
King David knew he would die. The prophet Nathan told him:
When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Samuel 7:12-13
At the end of Psalm 16,
You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:10 KJV
David knew he would die; he knew his body would decay. But he also knew, from the prophet Nathan who spoke God’s word, that God would set one of David’s descendants upon an eternal throne. David was reassured that his people- the Lord’s people- would endure. That One would be set on the throne forever, eternally. David’s son and heir Solomon would go on to build a magnificent temple in Jerusalem, but David would have known his son couldn’t live forever.
David knew Nathan’s prophecy was of the Messiah.
In the book of Acts, Peter spoke of this also. Peter said David knew.
"Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it." Acts 2:30-32
We can rejoice with David because of Jesus’s great sacrifice. We can rejoice with David because God the Father did not abandon Jesus in hell. His body did not decay.
Believe this and take heart, my friends.
See the Lord today.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8 KJV
Let us seek the Lord as our greatest refuge. Let us hold Him in our hearts as our supreme treasure.
And remember, just like you don’t have to wait on hold to talk to God here on earth . . . there are also no lines in heaven!
Father in heaven, thank you for this psalm of gold. Thank you for the Bible and that we can learn so much about you and your heart and your great love for us through these stories of old. Thank you that we can have a relationship with you while we are here on earth that will continue eternally. Sometimes we do not understand what that means but help us to have faith in your promises. Heal our land, protect our loved ones, and strengthen your church. Amen.