There are so many places or things we run to for security when life spirals out of control. How sure are you that whatever you are placing your trust in will bring you security? Psalm 16 is an invitation to consider what it looks like if you put your trust in the God of the Bible.
On our drive to our annual family holiday, my younger brother in-law and I were talking about sharks and sharks had been spotted at our holiday spot. We were both a bit scared but one of our “traditions” is to jetty jump and as soon as we hit the water I could feel these hands cling on to me, my brother-in-law needed something secure, and I don’t know why he turned to me, I would have been completely useless!
Where do you put your trust? It reminded me about how we all run and cling on to something or someone when our lives spiral out of control. When we lose our job, or you are not getting enough work for your business or you’re struggling to pay your bills.
You or someone close receives bad news from the doctor, a relationship is on the rocks or you’re feeling overwhelmed about the future, wondering, are you studying the right course, will you get a job once you’ve finished studying? Will you be stuck in this phase of life forever? We all turn to something or someone for help.
With the year that has just passed we’ve all felt what it’s like to feels out of control. The COVID virus seemed to come out of nowhere and our world has been changed forever. I know so many people who have lost their jobs. Businesses having to shut. Everything that has happened is a bit of a shake-up that reminds us of how little control we actually have over our lives.
When life turns upside down, as it has, where do you run to? Where do you place your trust?
Well, that’s the big question this Psalm wants us to think about today, “Where do you place your trust? This psalm is an invitation to look into the life of someone who has placed their trust in the God the Bible. It’s an invitation to consider, what it would look like if you placed your trust in the God of the Bible.
Where we’re going:
Firstly, this psalm invites us to look into the life of someone who has placed their trust and their confidence, in the God of the Bible.
This Psalm begins with a cry out to God for protection. David, the author of this psalm, was human just like you and I. Just as we face the uncertainty of life, David had his fair share of things to worry about in his life time.
David struggled with the worries and the uncertainty of life, in a season in his life, he was on the run from people trying to kill him, people who spoke falsely of him and treated him unfairly. He had had some serious family issues! At one point his own son was trying to kill him – he had a dysfunctional family!
David was all too familiar with the uncertainty of life. He had a far from perfect life and was far from perfect himself. Verse 1 shows us the reality of this as he calls out to God. But then look at what David does in verse 2. David doesn’t only call out to God and then sits back and waits for something magical to happen. No, David is deliberate in his response to the uncertainty of life, he runs to God and he confesses,
You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” ~Psalm 16:2 (NIV)
We see this expanded in verse 5, where he says:
“You Lord are my portion and cup of blessing. You hold my future”. ~Psalm 16:5 (HOLMAN)
What David is saying here, is that from all the places, people or things he could run to he chooses to run to God.
In verse 5 the picture he is trying to paint, is that if you imagine a table full of different portions of food, a buffet of a variety of choices to choose from. David is saying that his portion, his choice, would be to choose God, out of everything else available.
Like David, we have so many different options to place our trust in. When life spins out of control what are some of the things you run to when life is out of control? What’s your safety net?
Is it a relationship? or the figure in your back account? or your own ability to work hard and be successful?
We have to ask the question, Why run to God?
When we look at the story of David’s life, as we read some of the other psalms he wrote, we see that David knew God’s character, and that’s why he chooses to place his trust in God. That’s what David is talking about in verse 6
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. ~Psalm 16:6 (NIV)
What David is talking about here, is that he remembers Israel’s history. How God chose this small nation, insignificant to the super powers around them at the time. No land, no military power and yet God led them to victory in their battles. He provided a land that they could settle into.
Personally, David knows how God has come through for him in impossible situations. Remember the story of David and Goliath? there was no way a shepherd boy could beat this giant, who was a seasoned warrior and yet David walked out of the battle victorious.
David reflects on the history of his people, he reflects on his own life, and sees that God is someone who is trustworthy. A God who is faithful. A God who provides for and protects His people. That’s why David runs to him. And this is why David could confidently say what he does in verse 8.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~Psalm 16:8
As far as we know, David’s circumstances haven’t changed, life is still probably uncertain for him. When he reflects on who God is and what He has done, that’s enough for David to confidently say, that despite whatever is happening in life at the moment, despite how out of control life might seem, he is unshakeable, because he knows God is on his side.
You see, the God of the Bible doesn’t call us to have blind faith, He calls us to trust Him, to have faith based on evidence. Often we have assumptions of who God is and what He’s like. But can I ask you, do you know this God? the God of the Bible, the God David runs to. I think a lot of us don’t run to God, don’t place our trust in Him because we don’t truly know Him.
Running to someone you trust, just like a kid running to their parent even though someone else was standing right there, they run to their mum. Why? Because they know their parents are trustworthy, they feed them, stay up with them at night when they can’t sleep, protect them from danger, comfort them.
Because kids know their parents, they run to their parents.
So often I think we don’t run to God, because we don’t truly know His character, all we know about Him, is what we’ve heard from other people, from different sources, from the media. Maybe we have this picture of a God who is just about rules, a God who doesn’t care, a God who is distant.
Let me ask you, can you honestly say that you’ve taken the time to look into the claims of the Bible for yourself? Or is all you know about Him from what other people have said about Him? You see the Bible is how God has chosen to speak to us.
If you truly want to know what the God of the Bible is like, what David saw in Him then let me encourage you to investigate what the Bible has to say about God. Ask questions, do your research, spend quality time reading the bible for yourself, before you just write Him off.
The reason David put his confidence in God, when life was uncertain was because he knew God’s true character. Let me encourage you, look to the Bible and see for yourself what David knew about God.
Secondly, this psalm moves us to see how we can falsely place our confidence in things that eventually always let us down.
In David’s culture, these things took the form of idols, as you can see in verse 4. In ancient cultures (and even some today),
they believed that there were gods for different things. A god of love, war, fertility, wealth, wine and parties. They put their trust in these idols to fulfil their lives.
Now today we don’t believe these gods exist, but the principle behind why these ancient cultures worshipped idols remains the same for us. We still run after these things, love, power, sex, wealth, placing our trust in these things and expecting them to completely satisfy us. Expecting them to make us unshakeable.
We say if I had this career, looked this way, had just a little bit more money, if this person loved me or I was in this relationship, then life would be good, then I would be completely satisfied, then no matter what happens, I will be unshakeable. But look at what this psalm says.
Those that run after other gods, will suffer more and more. ~Psalm 16:4 (NIV)
See when you run after something, whether it be money, love or power, what it shows about us is that we believe we can’t live without those things. If we base our satisfaction, our security in life, in wealth, relationships, in being in control, as time goes on, you will be shaken. Why? Because even if you are in the lucky minority who gets the things you’re running after, eventually, they’ll start slipping away because nothing in this world lasts. Life is uncertain
One example is if you look back over history when, Stock markets crashed in the US in the 1920’s and the 1980’s, and there was an increased rate in suicides. People had invested all their trust into their stocks and so when share prices fell, they were shaken. What they put their trust in had failed them.
As good as relationships are, people change, they move away, they die. No matter how healthy you are, no one is exempt from falling sick and getting old. No matter how influential, or powerful or wealthy you become your life has an expiry date on it just like every other human being. Everything you chased after in this life will be taken away from you. You’ll leave it all behind.
Nothing is certain, if we run after these things, if we base our security on these things, one day it will be gone and we’ll be left shattered, without a secure foundation.
The past year has been a wake up call, of just how uncertain life is, of how things can change and be taken away so suddenly. How sure are you, that whatever you’re placing your trust in will satisfy you, will keep you secure forever?
Well in the last verses of this psalm, we’re given a picture of the future, of those that place their trust in God. An eternal confidence.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. ~Psalm 16:9-11
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
In these last verses we see, if God looks after those who trust Him in the uncertainty of this life then surely, He won’t let death come between them. Surely, He won’t let death strip His goodness away. And friends what we celebrated on Easter Sunday a few weeks ago, proves exactly that.
Through Jesus’ resurrection, God is saying, for all those who put our trust in Him, you don’t have to fear death, Jesus has taken care of that on cross.
Through the resurrection God is saying, "I will not let death separate you from my love". "I will not let death come between us!"
What David only knew partially we now know in full. And the early church saw the connection between this psalm and Jesus’ resurrection.
David said about him [Jesus]:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ ~Acts 2:25-28 (NIV)
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, is a signpost across history, that the God of the Bible is trustworthy and loves you, that He is not distant and removed from your life.
If the resurrection of Jesus, isn’t enough for you to trust God, then nothing ever will be.
You’ve got to ask yourself the question, what other evidence will you need today to believe that Jesus is raised from the dead?
See, even at the time of Jesus, people back then had strong reasons to be sceptical that Jesus would rise again from the dead. If you look at the gospel accounts, you’ll see that no one was expecting Jesus to be alive, His disciples, His closest friends were in hiding, even though Jesus had told them He would rise again on the third day. They didn’t believe Him! On the third day as the woman that was headed to the tomb of Jesus, to mourn Him, expecting His body to be there. Something drastic had to happen for thousands of people, who weren’t expecting a resurrection, to start believing that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
A.N. Wilson, who is a British author and public figure, who once laughed at Christianity, until he was convinced of the evidence, says this about the resurrection:
“We can easily dismiss the events of Easter as a fairy tale if we hid from ourselves the uncomfortable fact that the eye witnesses of the resurrection were willing to be tortured and die horribly, rather than deny the risen Christ. It’s hard to believe that these people didn’t see Jesus resurrected.”
We see the impact of the resurrection impacting people’s lives today. Testimonies of lives transformed through Jesus to the glory of God. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
Even if you don’t believe in the historical evidence of the resurrection, just try and imagine if you did know it was true, that it was a fact, as if you knew this was going to be your future. Can you imagine how that would change your approach to the uncertainties of this life? Can you imagine how it would change the next time you went to a funeral, the next time you wept, the next time you worried about your job or anxious about anything in this life. It would completely change your outlook on life. It would free you from the fear of the uncertainty of this life.
For those of us who do believe the resurrection, imagine if we were 5times or 10times more sure of it. It would change us too.
The resurrection is evidence, that God is not done with this world, that God is not going to leave this world as it is. Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of this reality. It shows us that God is going to restore and renew this world. A world without viruses, without sickness, without pain, without death. Everything that is sad, everything that is uncertain, will become untrue.
We think heaven is in the clouds – boring! The Bible says that God is going to renew and restore this material world and it’s going to be better than you and I can ever imagine! Look at the words this psalm uses to describe this future, abundant joy! Eternal pleasure!
That’s good news of the resurrection. That’s the future Jesus has secured for those who put their trust in Him.
I pray that this psalm gives you assurance through the uncertainties of life, that there is a God who cares for you and loves you. He’s proven that in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Run to Him! Get excited about the future! Know that no matter how uncertain life might seem, when our trust is placed in Jesus, He will not let you be shaken.