Celebrate Joy (Psalm 16)

Psalm 16

A miktam of David.

16 Protect me, God, because I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.
    Apart from you, I have nothing good.”
Now as for the “holy ones” in the land,
    the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about;
    let their suffering increase because
        they hurried after a different god.
I won’t participate in their blood offerings;
    I won’t let their names cross my lips.
You, Lord, are my portion, my cup;
    you control my destiny.
The property lines have fallen beautifully for me;
    yes, I have a lovely home.

I will bless the Lord who advises me;
    even at night I am instructed
    in the depths of my mind.
I always put the Lord in front of me;
    I will not stumble because he is on my right side.
That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous;
    yes, my whole body will rest in safety
10     because you won’t abandon my life to the grave;
    you won’t let your faithful follower see the pit.

11 You teach me the way of life.
    In your presence is total celebration.
Beautiful things are always in your right hand. (Psalm 16, Common English Bible)

I love this psalm. I love the images of celebration. I love the psalmist’s joyous mood. It is a psalm that points to God’s protection and provision.

But then, there those two verses that are just not very joyous. There is nothing there to celebrate. I feel pretty empty when I read them set among all these other verses. Nine verses of joy and two verses that don’t seem to fit. Let’s read them again. “Now as for the “holy ones” in the land, the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about; let their suffering increase because they hurried after a different god. I won’t participate in their blood offerings; I won’t let their names cross my lips (vv. 3-4).

It is obvious when I read verses three and four that David cared about these he calls “holy ones” and “magnificent ones.” I do get it, they messed up. They messed up and consequences will follow. They turned their backs on God and arguably God’s wrath might be on their horizon. But then again, God is also known for giving out abundant grace.

I have had people disappoint me both within the faith family and beyond. It has upset me. In some cases it has shaken me. In other cases I have gotten angry. Most of us have known of times like these. But do we ask God to increase their suffering? Perhaps we do during our time of greatest anger, but cooler heads usually prevail in the end.

I would like to think that when in a similar situation and a brother or sister experienced a faith crisis and started to question God, or even ran from God, that I would pray, but instead of praying for God’s wrath, I would pray that God gave me the right words that they might see their way back into God’s presence.

It seems to me, if that wavering brother or sister managed to find their way home to God, because of God’s work in me or in spite of me, joy would abound and we would have great reason to celebrate. We would be celebrating joy.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission given for the non-commercial use of this post

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