A Psalm a Day: Psalm 16

For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:

  • What is this Psalm about?
  • What does this Psalm teach about God?
  • How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.

psalm 16

Here’s Psalm 16:

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.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
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.

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.
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.

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[b] 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.


What is this Psalm about?

Fundamentally, this Psalm is about the goodness of God. In it, we have a model of ways of praising God and speaking truth, and an invitation to focus on him and his holy, whole, love. The Psalm weaves together aspects of who God is, what God does, and what that means for God’s people both now and not yet, both in the present and the future.

What does this Psalm teach about God?

As noted, this Psalm is about the goodness of God – a goodness seen in provision (v2, 6b, et.c), protection (v1, v10) and direction (v11). This shows that God is a generous God – to his people, contrasted with those he is not so generous to. We see in Psalm 16 a hint of partiality, of choice, of God choosing to love, and that love being substantive and meaningful.

How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

The emphasis on the goodness and generosity of God – both in the now and in the not yet that is to come – is a vital part of following God’s best, and something that every generation of God’s people has to learn over and over. Psalm 16 balances present blessings and benefits – boundaries/counsel/instruction/provision/safety and more – with the promise of a joy yet to come. In this it reminds us that whilst this life matters, there is more than our mortal days. The closing verse wonderfully ties those together, and from it I will draw today’s prayer:

A prayer from Psalm 16

Lord, ‘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’. Thank you, Lord, for your provision and protection now, and the promise of eternal joy with you. Help me to be mindful that you have the best of all things, the best of all ideas, and the best of all paths – lead me in your way, and help me to show and tell others of your goodness. Amen.

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