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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Parnell

The Path of Life Made Known (Psalm 16:11)

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 16:11

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge,” David begins Psalm 16.

Immediately, we see the language of faith (see also Psalm 2:11). David trusts in the Lord. He doesn’t merely acknowledge that God exists, but he understands his entire existence in relation to God’s supremacy.

“I have no good apart from you” (v. 2). “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot” (v. 5). “I have set the Lord always before me” (v. 8).

It’s this life of faith that leads up to verse 11. David shows us what it means to trust in the Lord. And the life of trusting the Lord makes David’s heart glad, indeed his whole being rejoices and his flesh also dwells secure (v. 9). Why does his flesh dwell secure? It’s because the Lord will not abandon his soul to Sheol. The Lord won’t let his holy one see corruption. In short, here is resurrection.

Jesus Was Raised

This is the theme of Psalm 16 that continues into Psalm 17 (Psalm 17:15). And it has Messianic overtones. In fact, the apostles tell us that this is about Jesus (Acts 2:19–36). David is speaking here, but as Peter proclaimed, “he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31).

It’s better for us that this is about Jesus. If it’s about Jesus then it’s about us, too. For just as Christ was raised, we’ll be raised (1 Corinthians 15:17–20). More than a promise, we have an actual demonstration. There’s an empty tomb out there to remind us.

The Path of Life

So it’s about resurrection. And when David starts in verse 11, “You make known to me the path of life,” that’s what he’s talking about. The path of life is not mainly about the here and now. Calvin writes, “It is to form a very low estimate, indeed, of the grace of God to speak of him as a guide to his people in the path of life only for a very few years in this world” (Commentaries, p. 233). There are tons of things in Holy Scripture about life in this world, but this isn’t one. The path of life isn’t about balancing your checkbook (though that’s a good thing), neither is it about the way of wisdom (not in this psalm, anyway), nor about the how-tos of faith (even when we need them).

The path of life is being united to God such that we’ll never be without Him. The path of life is what God makes known to us—not as a trail to follow, but as a promise to embrace.

That’s the glorious shift in Psalm 16. It begins with our faith in God and ends with God’s faithfulness to us. He will not abandon us. No he won’t! He won’t. He makes known to us the path of life. Life beyond the grave. Life that ushers us into His presence where there is fullness of joy, at this right hand where there are pleasures forevermore.

So We Rejoice

So we dwell secure here. Our being rejoices. We are glad. We can go forth today and tomorrow and next knowing that not even death can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. We know how this thing will turn out. We will be with him.


For Reflection

1. How is Jesus’ resurrection related to ours?

2. How does the resurrection affect the way you think about risk?

3. Step back and consider God’s faithfulness. Is there a cap to his goodness? (No!)

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