April 16, 2017
A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
Psalm 16 (NIV)
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,
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.
The psalms have always been the prayer book for the people of God. It is, therefore, no surprise that the Book of Psalms is the most quoted book in the New Testament. The psalms not only give voice to the prayers and meditations of God’s people, but they connect us to the whole of biblical revelation. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the first recorded public proclamation of the gospel occurs in Acts chapter 2 when Peter, standing with the other Apostles, addresses the crowd. Only a few weeks earlier, they were in fear behind locked doors. Now, they are publicly declaring the resurrection of Jesus.
In his sermon, Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11 which gives the promise that God will not “abandon me to the grave” and “you will not let your Holy One see decay.” Peter declares that if the psalm was only referring to a promise made to David, then why were David’s bones in decay and the place of his tomb so well known? (Acts 2:25-32). The answer is that the psalm was speaking prophetically about Jesus Christ who never suffered decay but was raised from the dead on the third day! He is the Risen Lord! He is the “first fruit” of the general resurrection which will someday come to us all.
Because Jesus Christ is risen, not only is his death on the cross vindicated as God’s plan of salvation, but we have the assurance that, in the end, we will also be resurrected from death. Christ’s death and resurrection is what has made known “the path of life” (vs. 11). It is the empty tomb which finally fulfills this psalm, granting us joy in his presence and eternal pleasures at his right hand where Jesus Christ is seated in glory. This is why the entire gospel is summarized in what is known as the great Paschal greeting: “Christ is Risen!” (with the reply) “He is Risen Indeed!”