Psalm 16You Will Not Abandon My SoulA Miktam of David. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;I have no good apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;their drink offerings of blood I will not pour outor take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me;because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy;at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.(Psalm 16, ESV)
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol or let Your holy one see corruption.
How does David know this? As I read this poem, and as you look at its structure, you can see how it builds. It’s a very simple beginning, but as the poem progresses it gets fuller and fuller. In the second half of the psalm, he first uses poetic parallelism across pairs of lines and then enlarges the pattern at the end with sets of 3 lines on each idea. The whole poem develops the imperative in the first line. Preserve me! That’s something we can all relate to. We want to last and keep going, not fade away or burn out. But David’s hope! How does he get there? He believes in some kind of eternal life, and he believes it so intensely that he uses hyperbole – worms will never eat my body.
But David’s body is in the ground and some 3 thousand years decayed. The corruption of his bones and body are pretty much complete. Was this a naive hope or a spiritual dream? Neither. David does something amazing here, but he does it because the Spirit shows him. There’s really no other way to explain it. David is predicting, in his hopes for his body, the resurrection of the dead. That is incredible. He must’ve somehow grasped, again by the Spirit alone, that God’s intentions are eternal life for those He loves. Not knowing how it might happen, or who it might happen through, David still sees the Advent hope. The apostles loved this poem just for that reason. They saw that an ancient poet-king yearned for and described what Jesus came and accomplished.
We need an advent now of the Holy Spirit. Not in a search for some new experience or some new knowledge. That’s not what the Holy Spirit is about. It’s an old experience of old knowledge made new in your heart. It’s when you jump up in joy as the reality and power of the resurrection becomes clear to you. It’s when, with the ancient poet-king, you say to God, “I have nothing but You and Your goodness” as you see the wickedness of the world around you. It’s you claiming the absurd promise that worms and decay are not the last word about you – not at all! It’s this wonderful ending to the poem – in our path through life we can hold His hands with wonder and look at His face with pleasure. And by the Spirit, we can know this. Even better than David did.