Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Today we look at Psalm 16. I call this psalm “Creed” because it is the poet’s statement of faith. In the church I attend, we say the Apostle’s Creed most Sundays. You may have heard it. It starts, “I believe in God the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth”, and continues “I believe in Jesus Christ” and “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
The poet doesn’t start his creed with “I believe” — he begins with “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge” (v. 1). What is important to the poet is not so much his doctrine about God, but his relationship with God. God is his refuge and protector.
The poet continues, “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing” (v. 2). Again he places himself in relationship with God, calling him “my God” and “my only good”.
In both the psalm and the Apostle’s creed, land is important. In the creed, the land is the world, for God is “creator of heaven and earth”. In Psalm 16, the land is the poet’s home. He says, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup . . . the boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places” (vv. 5-6). His “boundary lines” mark out that bit of the Promised Land on which the poet lives. He receives this as a good gift from God. Wherever we live on God’s earth, whatever our situation, our place too is a gift from God.
The Apostle’s creed says, “I believe in the communion of saints.” The poet says, “As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight” (v. 3). Where the creed states belief in fellowship, the poet states that he delights in it.
The Apostle’s creed ends, “I believe . . . in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” Psalm 16 ends in a similar place:
“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices,
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave . . .
You … will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Lord, what is our life and how long does it last? I buried my brother in a cemetery in England, and my mother and father in a grave in Canada. Yet the poet says “You have made known to us the path of life, you fill us with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (v. 11).
Show us the path of life.
Let us feel joy in your presence.
Give us eternal pleasures at your right hand.
When the grave tells a story of sorrow and death, tell us your story of life and hope.
Our God, your story is bigger than the story we see. Your gifts are bigger than the gifts we give
– As creator-God, you give us the world. Thank you for the earth, our dwelling place, for the house or apartment that is our small shelter, for the harvests that provide our food.
– As personal-God, you give us yourself, for “You will not abandon us to the grave” (v. 10). Thank you that you paint our existence in a picture of life and death and life beyond death.
With the poet we pray, “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge” (v.1). This is our creed, that we find life in the shadow of your wings, and in the community of your people. Therefore, with the poet we say, “My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest in hope” (v. 9).
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.