Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalms 16:11)
Psalm 16 is another of the remarkable Old Testament passages that speak of the great Messiah who was to come. There are many Old Testament prophecies that speak of the coming of Christ in ways that could not have been completely understood by the prophets. This Psalm was written one thousand years before Christ came, yet it speaks of the resurrection which is the triumphal event of Christ’s life and the hope of every Christian.
Verse 10 says, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Though David wrote this, it is impossible for him to speak concerning himself. David’s body is still in a grave in Jerusalem and has seen the decay of the flesh. When Peter preached on Pentecost, he revealed the meaning of this Old Testament text which no one could have known unless the Holy Spirit unlocked it and showed it referred to Jesus whom the Jews had just crucified. Jesus was buried but the grave could not contain Him. As David prophesied, Christ arose from the dead and now sits on the throne in heaven. Peter said of David, “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:31).
We should note the use of the word hell in both Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:31. This word translates the Hebrew sheol and the Greek hades. In these two scriptures, neither of these mean hell in the sense of the place of eternal torment. Neither David nor Christ were ever in the place of torment. Rather, sheol and hades in both instances refer to the grave. Christ was not left in the grave to suffer the corruption of His flesh, but rather was raised and His body was glorified. No Christian goes to a place of suffering or purging such as is taught by the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. The soul of the Christian goes immediately into heaven to await the resurrection of the body. Every Christian may joyfully quote Psalm 16:9: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” These sentiments of Christ expressed His immediate hope of the resurrection, while we await ours according to the sure promise of God.
The last verse of the Psalm is also sweet to the Christian. We must remember that when we came to Christ in faith we were placed “in Christ.” Everything that happens to Him happens to us. Christ was raised to return to heaven to the blessed fellowship of the Father: “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” I am sure as David penned these words he knew they would somehow apply to him. At the moment of his death, his eyes opened to the glories of heaven and the presence of God the Father. His words that were somewhat mysterious as he wrote them became crystal clear as he received a mind that was perfectly in tune with Christ.
This is the same hope for you and me. We preach the glories of heaven and the fellowship of the Father without knowledge of the fullness of them. However, after this brief sojourn of life is over, we too shall see the full revelation of what we have so longed hoped for. Whenever you are discouraged, turn to this Psalm and think of the presence of God and the pleasures of heaven. Troubles melt away in the blessed promises of scripture.
Pastor V. Mark Smith