The Righteous One’s Satisfaction with His LoT

a brief study of Psalm 16, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 29 Sep 2006

Psalm 16 is generally recognised as a Messianic Psalm even by those who do not agree that all the psalms are Messianic in one way or another.

Psalm 16 is a well-known Messianic Psalm. No one disputes that it is Messianic not only because its content leaves us without doubt that it is Messianic, but also because the New Testament makes it very clear that the speaker of this psalm is Christ Himself.

Turn with me to Acts 2. Notice how the apostle Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11 in verse 25-28. Then he adds:

"29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:29-32).

King David died, and he was buried, and he saw corruption. Therefore David could not be speaking about himself. The Scripture cannot be broken. He must be speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead.

The apostle Paul confirms this interpretation in Acts 13:35, where he quotes Psalm 16:10—

"35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption" (Acts 13:35-37).

Psalm 16, is therefore, without controversy, a Messianic Psalm. David wrote in the Spirit of Christ, and the speaker in the Psalm is Christ Himself.

It is difficult to give a title to this psalm. Andrew Bonar calls it "The Righteous One’s satisfaction with his lot." And then he calls Psalm 17 as "The Righteous One’s dissatisfaction with a present world."

This is quite right. Psalm 16 is about our Lord’s contemplation of the privileges that He enjoys because of His relationship with His Father. He is looking at those who have been pursuing strange gods, and He laments the sorrow that awaits them (v. 4).

He Himself was dwelling in this present world of pain, suffering, sorrow and persecution. He was deeply dissatisfied with the situation in the world. Psalm 17 makes that very clear. But yet there was a satisfaction in Him. It was a satisfaction that transcended the situation He was in. He had joy and peace because He knew God.

Let’s look at this Psalm briefly that we may more fully appreciate the satisfaction of our Lord and how we too, as a people united to Him, may share in this satisfaction.

Four things are expressed in this psalm, namely:

1. The Lord’s Prayer to the Father (v. 1)

2. The Lord’s Sufficiency in the Father (v. 2-6)

3. The Lord’s Confidence in the Father (v. 7-9)

4. The Lord’s Hope in the Father (v. 10-11).

Consider first…

1. The Lord’s Prayer
to the Father

1 Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

Notice how our Lord does not take for granted the preservation of His Father? If anyone has the right to take the Father’s love and preservation for granted it is the Son, and yet, He makes it a matter of prayer to ask His Father to preserve Him.

How much more, we who are lesser adoptive sons and daughters of the Father should learn to do the same.

Let us beloved from here learn to do so every day, for a failure to do so would be to live presumptuously and atheistically.

Let us pray each day—

"Lord, preserve my health that I may serve Thee, for in Thee do I put my trust."

"Lord, preserve my faith that I may walk with Thee."

"Lord, preserve my church that we may glorify Thee."

And consider secondly,…

2. The Lord’s Sufficiency
In The Father

2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; 3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

The Lord Jesus Christ came to do His Father’s will. He did not come to do good to His Father. No one can do good to the Father who is perfectly good and sufficient. When we praise the Father, we do not add to His goodness or glory. Rather, we acknowledge and manifest His glory.

It was the same for the Son. He came not to do good to the Father. His goodness extends not to the Father. He came to do good, rather, to the saints—the holy ones, the elect of God.

He came to do good to us. He delights in us not because we are worthy but because the Father has elected us. Our Lord came for us to bless us.

He did not come for idolaters, who hate Him and vex His spirit.

4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

Take note that the ‘their’ in this verse does not refer to the godly of verse 3, but to those who pursue after false gods. Our Lord does not approve of their worship. He would not take their names in His lips before the Father as He would do in the case of those in whom He delights. He laments their sorrow and destruction, but it is not for Him to bless all such as will remain the enemies of God.

On the other hand, for such as have been given to Him by the Father, our Lord has a blessing. This is what he says in verse 5-6—

5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Our Lord came to purchase a goodly heritage not for Himself but for those He delights. Because He loves His Father, and He came to do His Father’s will, He knows that the blessing He would receive and distribute is unlimited.

It is as if God Himself is His inheritance and cup. He has a goodly heritage and His cup is overflowing. He came to secure all these not for Himself, but for His children.

So we too, as co-heirs with Christ, may enjoy the confidence and blessings that He enjoys.

This heritage which awaits us is a spiritual heritage. While we may be poor in this life, we are really rich in God because of Christ our Lord.

So let us take the words of our Lord in our lips:

"The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance… The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage."

"The LORD is my portion,… therefore will I hope in him" (Lam 3:24).

And consider thirdly,…

3. The Lord’s Respite
in the Father

7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory [or soul] rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Our Lord was facing persecution and dangers to His life daily during His earthly ministry. And He was daily vexed in the spirit by those who fear not God and serve Him not, but serve themselves, or false gods, or materialism and worldliness.

Yet the Lord had satisfaction and respite in His soul. How was He able to have such peace in His heart? He was able because He was in constant communion with His Father—not only in the day, but in the night seasons (v. 7).

He eyes are set on His Father. He is not flustered by the troubles He faces day by day because His eyes are fixed on His Father. "I have set the LORD always before me" (v. 8). He knows that the Father is with Him in all His trials.

Therefore He is able to rejoice and to rest in hope (v. 9).

Beloved brethren and children, every believer should have the same kind of peace and respite as our Lord. Indeed, we have even greater reasons to rejoice and hope—for Christ our Lord has already come. He suffered and died for us, and He is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Father interceding for us.

So let us fix our eyes on our Lord as He fixed His eyes on the Father. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;" says our Lord. When we look at Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, we would be doing exactly what our Lord did.

Let us fill our heart with the promises of God, our tongues with the praise of God and our eyes with Christ—that we may run our Christian race with joy, peace, confidence, and hope.

Consider then…

4. The Lord’s Hope
in the Father

10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

These are the verses that make this psalm so well-known. What is our Lord saying in these verses?

Our Lord is the Holy One. He is speaking about what the Father will do for Him.

He knew that He that He came to do His Father’s will, which would include going to the Cross to die as the Lamb to take away the sin of His people.

The thought would at one point bring our Lord very low, for in the Garden of Gethsemane He cried out unto the Father—"If it be possible, take this Cup from me, but not my will, but thy will be done."

But our Lord’s confidence in the Father was never diminished. He dreaded the thought of being forsaken by His Father on the Cross, but He knew that in so far as His human life, His Father would not leave Him in the state of death or the grave.

That is how the word ‘hell’ in our text is to be understood. Our Lord Jesus was under the power of death for three days. For three days, His soul was separated from His body. Now, we often think nothing about it, but do you realize that this separation was an undesirable humiliation for our Lord?

Otherwise, our Lord would not rejoice in saying: "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell."

Our Lord was not looking forward to the state of death. He was fully man. Being separated from His body is not something He could ever get use to.

When we get to heaven, we can be sure that we will not get used to living without a body. Like the souls of the martyrs in Revelation 6, we will be asking the Lord "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood…?" (Rev 6:10). How long before our Messiah returns as Judge and King? How long before our bodies are raised from the ground!

The state of separation between body and soul is a state of humiliation. This is why traditional Reformed theology speaks of glorification as happening not at death, but the resurrection!

Our Lord was in a state of humiliation during the three days when His body was in the grave. We must not think that because His soul had gone to heaven that He was in a state of exaltation. No, no, our Lord was still being humbled for our sins.

But thank God, His Father would not leave His soul in that state.

And neither would He suffer His Holy One to see corruption. It was enough that our Lord should die. His suffering the wrath of God and His dying on the cross was sufficient to pay for the penalty due to our sin.

There was no need for His body to see corruption. He did not have sinful flesh like us. No doubt, He came in the "likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom 8:3). But His body was not the instrument of sin, nor was it defiled by sin—original or actual. His body was holy. There was no need for it to suffer corruption.

Thus the Father would not allow it to see corruption. He was preserved from decay until He rose on the first day of the week.

Our Lord refers to His resurrection in verse 11—

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

These words are very rich. It speaks of the fullness of our Lord’s joy when He was raised from the dead. Remember that though He committed His soul unto His Father upon His death, it was not until His body was raised that He enjoyed the fullness of joy.

When the body is raised from the dead, then he is freed from all wants. A soul in heaven, which is without his body, will want his body, but a soul in heaven united to his body cannot want anything more. There is fullness of joy.

Today we can have a cup full of joy; in that day, we will be immersed in an ocean of joy.

But let us observe 3 things from our Lord’s testimony of how He basked in the fullness of joy. Consider the way, the source and the duration of our Lord’s joy.

a. First, observe that there is a way to the fullness of joy, namely,—‘the path of life’. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life." What is the ‘path of life’? In this context, the path of life is not referring to the Christian walk. It refers, rather to the way of resurrection. This is the path to the fullness of joy. We will not have fullness of joy until then.

b. Secondly, observe what the SOURCE of the fullness of joy is. "In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" says our Lord. What is the source of the fullness of joy? What is the source of pleasures for evermore?

It is God. Notice how our Lord speaks about God as being the source of joy.

"In thy presence is fullness of joy" speaks about joy derived from fellowship with God.

"At thy right hand there are pleasures," on the other hand, speaks of God commanding His Blessing.

Our Lord was not only anticipating heaven. He was anticipating the joy of fellowship with God and of receiving His blessings.

God is our Lord’s chiefest joy. It was His chiefest joy during His earthly ministry; it remained His chiefest joy when He returned to heaven.

Our Lord’s resurrection was not the chiefest joy. His resurrection only enabled Him to enjoy God’s fellowship and blessing fully—as the God-Man.

Heaven as a place was not our Lord’s chiefest joy. His source of joy is the Father Himself. Heaven is a place of joy because the Father is there. Were it not for the Father’s presence and fellowship with him, heaven could not bring the fullness of joy for our Lord.

There is fullness of joy in heaven, because God is there.

c. But now, notice thirdly, the duration of our Lord’s joy. "At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." The fullness of joy that our Lord would enjoy in heaven would last forevermore.

Heaven is not merely a place of never-ending existence. If it is merely a place of never-ending existence, it would be a boring place… for we would soon find nothing in heaven new or pleasurable.

Only fellowship with God who is infinite and unchangeable can give man the fullness of joy and everlasting pleasure.

Because of God’s fellowship and blessing, our Lord, as the God-Man can enjoy everlasting pleasure for all eternity.

Such was the joy that our Lord was anticipating even as He thought of impending death. It was this hope that gave our Lord satisfaction and confidence as He headed to the cross to do the Father’s will.


Well, beloved brethren and children, this hope that our Lord enjoyed is available to all who are united to Him. As we can share in our Lord’ sufficiency and confidence in the Father, so we can share in His hope.

This hope is not a mere wish. The Christian hope speaks of a reality to come.

As our Lord was resurrected from the dead, so all who are united to Him would one day be resurrected.

This world is not our home. The trials in this life does not characterise our life. It is but a phase we have to pass through. Our life is destined to be a life of the fullness of joy everlasting.

Oh let us not allow the dark clouds of our day rob us of our joy and satisfaction in God; but with genuine hope continue to run the Christian race, following the example of our Saviour as He walked through life in the fear and love of His Father for our sakes.


— JJ Lim

"It is not sin alone that characterises our world. Misery goes hand in hand with sin. And hence, as the preceding Psalm set before us One who was holy in the midst of a world lying in wickedness, though breathing its air, walking on its highway, handling its objects, and conversing with its inhabitants, so this Psalm exhibits One who is happy, truly happy, not withstanding a world of broken cisterns around him, and the sighs borne to his ears on every breeze. This happy One is "the Man of Sorrows," —no other than He! For Peter in Acts 2:31, declares. "David speaketh concerning Him!"

This happy One (followed in all ages by His chosen ones) walks through many a varied scene, and at every step expresses satisfaction and perfect contentment with the Father’s arrangements" (Andrew A. Bonar, Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms, 51-2)