Psalm 16 is a michtam psalm.
There are six of them, all written by David. And all hint at the hope of resurrection.
Here’s what one of my favorite scholars has to say about these songs: “Michtam suggests that this psalm was one of David’s golden meditations, dealing with truth so significant it should be preserved forever…”
Looking through the prism of the New Testament, both the Apostle Paul and Peter say this psalm refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
At the very least, David is trusting in God’s faithfulness to restore and raise up his house on an eternal throne (2 Sam. 7). And in verses 7-11, David believes God’s great plan of restoration would indeed include a resurrection.
According to David, God’s plan to restore him included a plan for both today and tomorrow.
According to this song, part of God’s plan for us today means he guides us, guards us and gladdens us. 
- God guides (vs. 7)
7 I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
When David wrote these words, he had just stolen Saul’s spear right from under his nose (1 Sam. 26:19-29). He was running as an outlaw with no family or inheritance to run toward (Ps. 16:1-6).
He had great need to trust in God’s promises to guide Him safely while in flight as well as to trust in God’s guiding precepts when his dreadful circumstances (“night seasons”) screamed God’s counsel was foolhardy.
- God guards (vs. 8)
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
For David, trust meant keeping his eyes trained toward the Lord. Because God’s presence was always with him, David knew he could safely trust God’s promises to forge for him an eternal throne. God would be faithful to guard David. (“I shall not be moved.”)
Today, we tend to overlook the promises of protection and safety to which the patriarchs fiercely clung. And while God’s promises to guard his children weren’t always synonymous with physical protection, they always included an expression of a future hope. If God was not faithful to preserve the lineage of his chosen children, how then would his promise of a Messianic seed come to pass?
- God gladdens (vs. 9)
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
Because God was faithful to his promises, David’s heart could dwell in joy. The joy David experienced was defined by gladness, rejoicing, and peace (“My flesh also will rest in hope.”)
For someone sleeping in caves and running by night, David’s flesh probably saw very little rest. When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m far from joyous and even farther from peaceful. Yet, David’s hope gave rise to peace because it was fueled by divine gladness.
God’s plan for today? He guides, guards, and gladdens you. But his plan for tomorrow is even better.
By the time you get to the New Testament, God’s plan of restoration is laid out less like a mystery and more like a map. It tells you how to get from point A to point B – from a broken vessel to restored work of art (Eph. 2:8-10).
At the center of our hope for restoration is God’s plan to resurrect us – just as he did His Son. The New Testament writers push us to both hope in our future resurrection and live by the power of Christ’s resurrection in the present (Eph. 1:18-23).
In the Old Testament, the object of that hope is not completely unveiled for us even as the hope itself fills each story on each page. But in passages like Ps. 16, we are given glorious glimpses of what is to come and how we are to come by it.
In Ps. 16, David reveals that the source of joy in ‘his today’ comes ultimately in trusting how God handles ‘his tomorrow.’ David knows that death is not the end. God will not leave him (vs. 10a) but will preserve him (vs. 10b) for eternity.
What informs David’s hope? The fact that God will not allow his “Holy One” to see corruption. David is referring to that person promised to come from his lineage who would be a forever king on a forever throne (2 Sam. 7).
In a time when mystery remained, David gets its. His eyes are trained on God who resurrects us to life, fullness of joy, and eternal pleasures with our Lord who has already preceded us to the right hand of God.
As scholar Derek Kidner says: To have God is “to enjoy not only guidance and stability, but resurrection and endless bliss.”
For those reasons alone, Ps. 16 is indeed a song that we should preserve in our hearts forever. Michtam, indeed.
Ladies, whatever difficulties or pain you bear this Easter season, know that God has a plan for you for both today AND tomorrow. If you are found in Him, God guides, guards, and gladdens you. And he promises not to leave you in your situation.
In meantime, fix your eyes as David did, on the Holy One who brings joy, peace, and rest. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in you.
Happy Easter! He is Risen!
 The other michtam psalms are found in 56-60. Miktam is an alternate spelling.
 John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Vol. 1 (New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 123.
 Acts 2:29-32
 Outline taken directly from Phillips, 120-125.
 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72 (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1973), 102.
Happy Easter, Melissa! Your words are such an encouragement to me. In fact, I would rather have your words (based on His words) than any chocolate-covered beans in the world!
Melissa Deming says
Love you dear friend! Hope you have a blessed day with your dear ones today celebrating our Lord!