God's Bounty, Part I
(H) A Mikhtam of David. (1) Protect me, God, for in you I take refuge. (2) I say to Yahweh: “You are my Lord. I have nothing good apart from you.” (3) As for the saints who are in the land, they are the excellent ones in whom is my delight. (4) The sorrows of those who run after another god will multiply. Their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out nor take their names on my lips. (5) Yahweh is the portion of my possession and my cup. You maintain my lot. (6) The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a beautiful inheritance.
In this opening segment of Psalm 16, David directs our attention to three areas. First, the psalmist considers his own relationship with God, the one who protects him and causes him to prosper (vss. 1 & 2). He uses three names for God: “El,” a general designation for the all-powerful creator, “Yahweh,” the covenant name God revealed to Moses, signifying that he is the eternal, self-existent one, and finally, "Adonai," the sovereign lord and master over all.
David here divides all humanity into two groups. He first speaks of the “saints in the land” (vs. 3), that is, Israelites in covenant fellowship with Yahweh. He then mentions “those who run after another god,” referring to all whose lives are filled with futility and degradation because they do not know Yahweh personally and worship idols (vs. 4). In the second part of this verse, David makes clear that he wants nothing to do with their blasphemous practices.
Finally, David reflects on his own life and how richly blessed he is because of Yahweh’s bounty. Here he uses four terms associated with property ownership to describe his favorable relationship with God. First, Yahweh is “the portion of my possession” (vs. 5). Then he speaks of “my lot” and my “boundary lines” to describe the generous way Yahweh has dealt with him (vss. 5 & 6). To climax the segment, he employs the term, “a beautiful inheritance” to describe what his relationship with Yahweh has made possible for him (vss. 6).
I. Calling on Yahweh for protection (1 & 2)
II. Contrasting those who worship Yahweh with idolaters (3 & 4)
III. Celebrating God’s bountiful provision (5 & 6)
Those rightly related to Yahweh rejoice in his divine protection and bountiful provision.
We should take time to meditate on the phrase David used in describing his relationship with Yahweh, “I have nothing good apart from you” (vs. 2). Here the psalmist gives us an insight into the very character of God. One of God’s great attributes is his essential goodness. In the creation account, Moses tells us that God evaluated each day’s work with the following statement: “and he saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 16, 21, 25, & 31). We could translate it this way paraphrasing a verse in Psalm 119: “God is good and everything that he does is good” (Ps. 119:68).
More than that, everything God has done since creation is good and has been for our good. The evil we see in the world around us comes not from God but is due to the entrance of sin into the world and the curse that fell upon humanity because of our rebellion against him. Even that evil God will eventually turn into good as Paul tells us in Romans: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). While David’s statement, “nothing good apart from you,” is phrased in a somewhat negative way, James gives us the same truth with a more positive choice of words: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (Jas. 1:17).
Don Moen, a worship leader and song writer, penned the following lyrics, a virtual paraphrase of Psalm 16:2. “God is good all the time! / He put a song of praise in this heart of mine; / God is good all the time! / Through darkest night his light will shine; / God is good; God is good all the time!” Those who belong to Yahweh increasingly know just how good he really is!