PSALM 16—THE LIVING OF CHRIST
When Peter was on the mount of transfiguration, he spoke nonsense, but when he spoke on the day of Pentecost, he was transparently clear. On the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, he tells us that Psalm 16 is a prophecy of the resurrection of Christ. In Acts 2:25-28 Peter quoted Psalms 16:8-11, and then said that David, as a prophet, spake “of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” Thus, by the word of Peter, we learn that Psalm 16 is a description of Christ. Psalm 2 is a Psalm of Christ, Psalm 8 is a Psalm of Christ, and Psalm 16 is another Psalm of Christ. Some Bible teachers call all these Psalms Messianic Psalms, but I prefer to say that they are Psalms of Christ.
The first Psalm of Christ is Psalm 2; it tells us something about Christ in principles. The whole earth with all its rulers is against Christ, but God has appointed Him. Regardless of what they do, God laughs at them, God will have them in derision. All history proves this. Then Christ proclaims that God has begotten Him by resurrection, and that God has given Him all the nations of this earth as His inheritance. And then we preach the gospel: Be wise, kings of the earth; be admonished, princes of this earth; you must kiss the Son, lest he be angry with you. All the points in Psalm 2 are concerning Christ in principle. Psalm 8 follows, telling us that Christ was incarnated, resurrected, ascended to the heavens, enthroned with glory, and made to have dominion over all things with His Body. By this all the problems on earth will be solved. It is wonderful and clear, but it is still not so clear. So we have the next Psalm of Christ, Psalm 16, which begins by telling us the kind of life Christ lived as a man on this earth. Psalm 8 told us that He was a man, a little lower than the angels, but it did not tell us the kind of life He lived. Hence, we need Psalm 16. This Psalm reveals to us that Christ, by humbling Himself to be a man and passing through death and resurrection, pleases God and abides with Him.
Let us consider this Psalm in more detail. The first section, verses 1 through 8, describe the human life of Christ on earth. These verses remove the veil to show us the living of this real man by the name of Jesus. “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust” (v. 1). The life Jesus lived on this earth was a life of continual trust in God. His life was a trusting life. Then verse 2: “O my soul, thou hast said to the Lord, Thou art my Lord: I have no good beyond thee.” This is the attitude of Jesus while He was on earth. Within Himself He said to God, “Thou art my Lord: I have no good beyond thee.” Verse 3: “To the saints that are on the earth, and to the excellent, thou has said, In them is all my delight.” He considered all the saints so excellent; His delight was in them. He trusted in God, and He loved all the saints. All these points are abundantly proved in the four Gospels. In verses 4 and 5 the Lord Jesus continues, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that choose other gods: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, my cup: thou maintainest my lot.” This means that He had nothing to do with any idol. His interest was in God and with God—nothing else. Then verse 6: “The lines are fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” He chose nothing for Himself; He left His destiny and all the choices to His Father. Verse 7: “I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.” How much He denied Himself! He trusted in the Father; He received the Father’s counsel. Then as a man He said, “I have set the Lord always before me because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (v. 8). We need to pray-read these eight verses and become intimately acquainted with the kind of life Christ lived while He was on earth as a man. This is the kind of life we need.
Then He was put to death; He was crucified. Apparently He was moved. But what did He say? “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (v. 9). When did He say this? At the time He was dying, for He said, “My flesh (that means His body) shall rest in hope.” Read Peter’s words in Acts 2:24-32. He was put to death and laid in the grave, and while He was dying, He was glad, for He said, “My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth.” What is His “glory”? “Glory” here means the innermost part of our being, the spirit. Consult some of the better translations of the Bible: they all interpret glory here as the innermost part, the spirit. Jesus was saved, His heart was glad, and His spirit, the innermost part of His being, rejoiced. Then why did Peter in Acts 2:26 translate “glory” as “tongue”? Because our spirit is the source of our praise, and our tongue is the means to express our praise. Whenever we praise the Lord, our praise must issue from our glory, our spirit, but it is always expressed by our tongue. In the matter of praising God, our tongue has very much to do with our spirit. Whenever we praise the Lord, we must praise Him out of our spirit and by our tongue. My heart is glad, my spirit rejoices, and my tongue praises. Then what about my body? My body will be buried, but while my body is buried, my flesh will rest in hope. In hope of what? In hope of resurrection. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption.” Peter tells us that this means resurrection.
Verse 11: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” If we have God’s presence, we have fulness of joy; if we are at His right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. After Christ was resurrected, He was seated at the right hand of God, where He enjoys pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 15 asks, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” The real answer is in Psalm 16. Then what about Psalm 15? That answer is according to the human and religious concept. The answer according to the heavenly vision is the One revealed in Psalm 16. Such a One will abide in God’s dwelling place and dwell in His holy hill. He is there now; He is in the presence of God; He is at the right hand of God. Which one? The One who put His trust in God, the One who lived in the presence of God, the One who was put to death, who was resurrected by God, and who ascended to God’s right hand. This is the One who can dwell in the tabernacle of God.
We should all be able to recite Psalm 2, Psalm 8, and Psalm 16. No human words can exhaust the goodness of these Psalms. Oh, Psalm 2! Oh, Psalm 8! Oh, Psalm 16!
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)