Psalm 16


This is a psalm that speaks about the prosperity of the godly but it is also Messianic in nature. Psalm 16:10 is quoted by the apostles Peter and Paul in Acts 2:25-28 / Acts 2:31 / Acts 13:35 in reference to Christ.


‘A miktam of David.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

This heading simply tells us it was a ‘miktam’ written by David. The word, ‘miktam’ means golden, hence why it’s often referred to as the ‘golden psalm’. However, there are others who believe that the word ‘miktam’ may have some musical meaning.

Still, others believe that the word means to cover, when we look at other psalms with the same heading, Psalms 56-60, they all appear to be written in times of distress, which leads some to believe that the word ‘miktam’ has the idea of covering the lips in the sense of secrecy. In other words, these are silent or secret psalms which were whispered during times of distress.

‘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.’ Psalm 16:1-4

David begins this psalm by reminding us how much he trusted in God as his refuge. He speaks to the ‘LORD’, that is ‘Yahweh’, the personal reference to God that was used in Israel and then he calls him ‘Lord’, that is ‘Adonai’, which refers to master or ruler.

David recognises the value of God in his life by saying ‘apart from Him he has no good thing’. He acknowledges that it is God who gives him the power to do good and the good that he does will be remembered by God, the good that he does is not in vain, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

David was fully aware that those who run after other gods will suffer over and over again. And he knows that trying to live his life to please God Himself wasn’t an easy experience, 2 Timothy 3:12, he faced many difficulties but remained faithful to God.

Every human being faces the same choice, we either choose to run after other gods or we choose to follow God Himself, Joshua 24:15 / John 6:66-69.

In contrast to those who offer sacrifice to other gods, David refused to follow the pagan practices of idolatry, he refused to offer drink offerings of blood and even speak the names of their idols.

‘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.’ Psalm 16:5-8

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, each of the tribes of Israel were given a portion of land by lot, Joshua 13:7 / Joshua 14:2. The Levites, however, weren’t given any land, their portion was the Lord Himself, Numbers 18:20.

Just as God met the needs of Israel in the land, so God will meet the needs of all those whose portion is with the Lord, Lamentations 3:24.

David here, says that his portion or lot is the Lord Himself and was confident that God would maintain what He had first given to him, 1 Samuel 26:19.

The boundary lines are a metaphor and find their meaning in the borders that defined the portion of land that was allotted to each tribe in the Promised Land. One’s spiritual portion that was in the Lord was pleasant, it’s a spiritual heritage that can be given to generations to come.

He recognises that it’s God who counsels him, and he says his heart instructs him, Psalm 127:1-2. Very often when we reflect upon God and His Word in silence, our conscience reminds us to keep walking in God’s ways, Job 23:10-12 / Psalm 1:1-2 / Romans 12:1-2.

David’s focus was on God and God alone, Hebrews 12:2. He has absolute confidence that God was at his ‘right hand’. The person who stood at the right hand of a king, was the person who defended the subjects of the kingdom, Psalm 110:1 / Matthew 22:44 / Acts 2:33 / Acts 7:55 / Colossians 3:1.

‘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.’ Psalm 16:9-11

Because the Lord was at David’s right hand, defending him, he could rejoice, even in death. In the Old Testament thoughts of eternal life and resurrection were not really understood, Psalm 6:5 / Psalm 7:5 / Psalm 30:12 / Psalm 57:8 / Psalm 88:11, that didn’t become clear until Christ came, 2 Timothy 1:10.

The ‘faithful one’ or ‘holy One’ as some translations have it is an obvious reference to Christ, Mark 1:24 / Luke 4:34 / Acts 3:14. The fulfilment of these words are better understood from Peter’s quotation of them in Acts 2:25-28 when he speaks of the resurrection of Christ. After His crucifixion and burial, Jesus’ body didn’t see decay, but he rose from the grave, Acts 13:34-37.

The phrase, ‘realm of the dead’ refers to ‘Hades’ which if you remember is the grave, the place where the ‘body’ ends up. Notice it was Jesus’ ‘body’ which went to the grave, not His soul. It’s obvious that Peter is using David’s psalm to show that Christ’s ‘body’ did not decay.

In other words, Jesus wasn’t like David, ‘who died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day,’ Acts 2:29. In other words, Jesus ‘body’ wasn’t in the grave long enough for it to begin to decay.

I love the way David ends this psalm, he can be full of joy because of the presence of God in life. He knows God will guide him, not only in this life but in the life to come. At God’s right hand, he will enjoy eternal pleasures.


Living in the presence of God eternally has many appeals for the Christian, Revelation 14:13. In heaven, we will be happy, and we will find a state of blissfulness. Matthew 5:3 / John 13:17.

This is one of the reasons Christians are Christians in the first place, Titus 2:13. This happiness is accompanied by ‘rest’ from ‘labour’, which signifies we will no longer work to the point of being worn out.

There will be a wonderful reward in heaven, but only for those who remain faithful unto death or until Christ returns to take us home, Hebrews 4:11.

On a personal level, the main attraction for me is that I won’t be able to hurt Him anymore with my sin and more importantly I will be in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not only will I be with them, but I’ll be with His angels and those other faithful Christians and those Old Testament faithful.

Go To Psalm 17


"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."