2015LentCoverWebA Delightful Inheritance

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:5-8

Today’s psalm text functions in worship much like the Apostles’ Creed as it confesses confidence and trust in God. The key to this section of the psalm is language drawn from God apportioning the Promised Land after the twelve tribes settled in Canaan, recorded in Joshua 13-17.

David uses land-settlement and possession words: “portion” (Joshua 19:9), “lot” (Joshua 18:6,8), “boundary lines” (Joshua 17:5), and “inheritance” (Joshua 14:3; 17:4). In doing this David spiritualizes and re-reads God having given a share of the Promised Land to each individual, family, and tribe as God’s saving work in his life. Just as God had distributed each “portion” of the land by “lot” with “boundary lines” indicating the “inheritance”, so David knows that God has apportioned to him blessing in “pleasant places”.

David delights in God as his “portion”, better than the best piece of real estate anyone could inherit. His joy is not in God’s gifts but in God Himself. God is David’s “cup” in that He is the refreshment and provision of life. In Psalm 23 David exults that God’s cup of goodness for him “overflows”. And God makes David’s “lot” in life “secure”. He who is David’s inheritance will guard that inheritance.

God is not only David’s portion and inheritance; God is also David’s counselor. David makes himself open to the Lord’s instruction, which comes to David through his heart in the night. His mention of God’s “counsel” and “instruction” in the night brings to mind Psalm 1 that commands meditating “day and night” on God’s torah, i.e. instruction. Having treasured God’s Word in his heart (Psalm 119:11), David receives God’s instruction during the night as he meditates on it. David may be alluding to the “watches of the night” (Psalm 63:6; 119:48) when he purposefully awakens to think about God. Or, we can imagine David meditating on God in the sleepless nights as he tosses and turns. Either way, David recognizes that the nighttime is especially good for listening for God.

Because David knew the Lord as his portion and inheritance, he made the resolve to “keep my eyes always on the LORD”. David trained himself to think frequently about God, to meditate on His goodness, and to wonder at the glories of His Kingdom. Since David had made the Lord the focus of his life, he knew that God was there at his right hand, and that he “will not be shaken”.

Franz Delitzsch, in his commentary on the Psalms, provides this good summation of Psalm 16:

There reigns in the whole Psalm, a settled calm, an inward joy, and a joyous confidence, which is certain that everything it can desire for the present and for the future it possesses in its God. (Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes)

RECORD (optional)


In Deep

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
    LORD, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
    LORD, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve […]

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Composing A New Song

Praise the LORD.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
    let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
    and make music to him with timbrel […]

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Working While Sleeping

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to [a] those he loves.

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Here I Am Lord

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened—
    burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your […]

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The Rejected Cornerstone

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the LORD has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The LORD has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.


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Setting Things Right

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, LORD,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
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For God’s Name Sake

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I […]

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Clinging To God

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all […]

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Attitude Check

Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, LORD;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to […]

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