Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education
Estimated reading time: 7 min.
Did you know that King David declared that there are pleasures at God’s right hand to be enjoyed forever?
He often faced life-threatening dangers. Even as he fled from King Saul or some of his many enemies, including one of his sons, David trusted the Almighty not only to preserve his mortal life but also to grant him God’s eternal pleasures in a better world should he die at the hand of his persecutors. He expressed his faith in a psalm of trust. This Digging Deeper on David’s Psalm 16 explores his confidence to discover how this assurance also pertained to Jesus’ resurrection and to God’s people today. Our study of certain aspects of this psalm will give Christians great hope for facing the future – by life or even by death.
Over these past two troublesome years, we have witnessed the deaths of millions of people around the world due to Covid-19. No doubt, you know of people, including Christians, who have contracted it. You may even know some who have died from this dreaded disease. Covid-19 has made most of us consider our mortality more seriously. As we journey through life, we face many perils. Yet the Christian has trust in God who has delivered him/her repeatedly. Even in the face of our temporality, we can continue to trust Him not to leave us forever in the dust of the earth. Our God is One in whom we can completely trust to restore us to life eternal.
Death is an ever-present prospect for all of us. None of us likes to think about it; yet it is assured (Hebrews 9:27), unless we are alive when Jesus returns (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus Himself faced death. We will discover what gave Him such confidence in God’s promise of restored life as He faced crucifixion. One of the Messianic Psalms quoted in the New Testament is Psalm 16. In this Psalm, David writes, under inspiration, prophetically about Jesus’ trust in the Father to raise him again. Being the God of the Old Testament, Jesus knew the promises of this psalm since He was the one who inspired David to write it.
Our focus verse is: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11 KJV throughout). Immediately, David declared his trust in Almighty God (v. 1). He avowed his love for God’s people and disdain of idol-worshipers (vv. 3-4). God was ever in David’s mind (vv. 8-9). It is important to note that verses 10 and 11 have a prophetic aspect that David inscribed about his greater descendant, Jesus Christ.
Die we must, but rise we shall
Peter’s Pentecost sermon made it plain that Psalm 16:9-10 did not apply to David in his lifetime for Peter declared that David was dead, buried, and his sepulcher was still in Jerusalem (Acts 2:29-32). Paul later cited this passage from Psalm 16 as well in which he explained that David did see corruption; therefore, David’s prophetic statements concerned his greater heir (Acts 13:33-37). As Peter and Paul both explained, Jesus did not see corruption because he was raised from the dead after three days and three nights. Because Jesus is alive, He assures His followers, who compose His spiritual body, that they too shall live eternally: “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54). Jesus was the first to tread the path from death to life. He will not be the last, for He promised every believer: “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).
What an encouragement for all true believers this is: die we must but rise to eternal life we shall. The bodies of believers shall be delivered from corruption by virtue of their union with Christ. The victory of Jesus over death was both a victory for Himself and for his spiritual body, the church.
David seemed to know something about a future life (Psalm 16:9), even though this psalm’s prophetic aspect applied directly to Christ. David is yet in his grave, but Bible readers are assured that he will live again in the Kingdom of God when he reigns over the united tribes of Israel during the Millennium and beyond (Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25). Along with all the faithful saints of the Old Testament era, he shall reign with Christ in the eternal theocracy.
In this coming kingdom will be fullness of joy in God’s presence along with pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11). Christians are assured such pleasures because of their position in Christ as His spiritual body. Because God has shown Jesus the path of life, He also will show it to those united in Christ. Though their bodies go down to the grave, they will not be left there forever.
When Jesus appears the second time, all who have died in Him shall be raised up incorruptible and glorious: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:52-55 KJB:PCE).
The pleasure is in God’s presence
Editor J.R. Dummelow in A Commentary on the Holy Bible clarifies Psalm 16:11: “The contrast which the Ps. draws is not, perhaps, so much between life here and life hereafter, as between life without God and life with Him. In its very nature, however, the latter life is enduring, and hence the Psalmist’s words contain an anticipation (though it may be a dim and only semi-conscious one) of the immortality which Christ has brought to light” (e-Sword 13.0.0). God’s people will be at that time in the Almighty’s presence at His right hand, a position of honor since that is where Christ is now (Psalm 16:11).
The apostle Paul supported this prospect of pleasures for evermore in God’s presence when he wrote: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV). Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible on Psalm 16:11 elaborates: “Happiness there, whatever may be its nature, will be eternal. Losses, disappointment, bereavement, sickness, can never occur there; nor can the anticipation of death, though at the most distant period, and after countless million of ages, ever mar our joys” (e-Sword 13.0.0).
David Guzik’s Enduring Word Commentary demonstrates how these promises fortified King David: “David had full confidence that his life with God – both now and forevermore – would be marked by the highest and best pleasures. This is life lived above shallow entertainments and excitements” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Based on God’s assurance recorded by David, Christians now experience benefits and prospects because Jesus Christ is alive. Even in the face of death, we have every reason to live joyously in hope. At God’s right hand, this place of honor, will be inconceivable pleasures for evermore.
Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.