Teaching series from Psalms

Making the God of the Bible Your Ruler

Psalms 16

Teaching t07570

Introduction

The Bible provides many lines of evidence to support its claim that it is the unique Word of God (EXAMPLES). One of these lines of evidence is the testimony of people whose lives were changed by God. This psalm is a testimonial by David, the record of a night-time meditation (16:7b) and probably toward the end of his life.

Read 16:1,2. The central thought here is David's claim that the most important decision he ever made was to say to the LORD, "You are my Lord." The Hebrew is important here. "I said to YHWH, 'You are my Adonai.'"

"YHWH" (as we learned two weeks ago) is the unique name for the God who reveals himself in the Bible, the God who entered into a covenant with Abraham to bless the world through one of his descendants (Gen. 12), who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3), who reveals himself supremely through (Jn. 8:56-58).

"Adonai" means ruler, king. So David is saying, "There was a day when I chose to make the God of the Bible my Ruler, and that was the most important decision I ever made." Before we listen to David's explanation of why this was so important, we need to understand more clearly what this decision involved . . . 

What does this entail?

Notice that this decision has important two entailments that ran against the grain of his culture--and ours (read 16:3,4).

It entails rejecting the validity of all other gods (16:4b). If YHWH alone is God, then to worship or call out to any other god is out of bounds. David lived in the midst of a religiously pluralistic culture, just as we do. Not only was the Canaanite culture notoriously pluralistic, but even most of the Israelites during this period of their history were into pluralistic worship.

But YHWH is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5), which simply means that because he is the only true God, he is the only rightful object of our worship. He is unwilling to share our worship with anyone else, just as a husband is rightfully jealous of his wife's sexual faithfulness.

It also entails changing your view of human greatness (16:3). Before, David may have viewed kings and wealthy aristocrats as the VIP's, the people who have it made, the people he wanted to get in with so he could move up in life. But now he realizes that true majesty/greatness begins with making YHWH your Ruler, and this has absolutely no correlation to one's social or monetary status. Now he realizes that the rich and powerful, unless they know the Lord, are to be pitied rather than coveted because they have missed the most important Thing in life (Jer. 17:5-7).

What kind of life does this result in?

What comes to your mind when you think about entrusting your entire life to the God of the Bible? If you're like most people in our culture, it calls forth images of restriction, confinement, neurosis, etc. For some, this may be because of the bizarre people we know who claim to be committed to Christ (EXAMPLES). But this reaction has a deeper source. Ever since the first humans listened to the voice of the Serpent (paraphrase Gen. 3:4,5), we have had a deep-seated desire to rule our own lives and a consequent suspicion of this God. This is why many of us feel drawn to an impersonal god but threatened by him (LEWIS QUOTE). But before you gave way to your suspicion, consider David's mid-life to late-in-life testimony of what it's like to do this. His testimony breaks his life up into three periods.

Read 16:5-7. At night, when he is alone with his thoughts, he reflects on his life since making the God of the Bible his Ruler. When he compares his life to those who trusted other gods (16:4a), he says "God has enriched my life up to now far beyond my expectations."

"God has fully satisfied the deepest longings of my heart." Re-read 16:5a. "Portion of my inheritance" is literally "You are the portion of my portion." It means that God has turned out to be the choicest spiritual food that satisfies his spiritual hunger. "You are my cup" similarly means that God has turned out to be the One who quenches his spiritual thirst and refreshes him.

This is exactly what Jesus claimed for himself (read Jn. 6:35 and Jn. 4:14).

"God has set me up in a situation I wouldn't trade anyone for." Re-read 16:6. He is referring to the land allotment after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, which was drawn by lot. Everyone hoped for a choice and roomy portion for himself so that he would have ample space for house and . . . tillable acreage." He is not tempted to envy how other people's lives have turned out because he knows he's gotten the very best deal from God.

This does not mean David had a problem-free life. He had formidable enemies (SAUL), and he experienced negative consequences from his wrong decisions (BATHSHEBA; ABSALOM). It means that God somehow worked even through these things to weave his life into something beautiful and deeply fulfilling (TAPESTRY >> Jn. 10:10,11).

Contrast this to how many who, alone at night, are filled with regret . . . 

Now David's mind turns from reflecting on his past with YHWH and looks to the future. Read 16:8,9a. He reasons that if following God up to now has been so rewarding, certainly nothing coming up in this life can shatter him.

This is the wonderful benefit of knowing and trusting God over a period of years. The track-record of his faithfulness gradually increases your confidence that he will enable you to handle everything that life may throw at you (read Ps. 23:1,4,6).

Contrast this to most people who get more fearful as they get older . . . 

Finally, David pursues this line of reasoning even beyond the end of this life. Read 16:9b-11. He reasons that surely the God who has taken such wonderful care of him in this life doesn't do this just to abandon him to annihilation at physical death. He must have something even more wonderful in store for him after he passes from this world.

When I was in college, my professors told me that the Old Testament had no theology of the after-life--that it was all a New Testament rooted in Greek thought and alien to the Old Testament. While it is true that the New Testament sheds much more light on the after-life (2 Tim. 1:10: "NEXT LIFE" SERIES), passages like this one show a basic continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament: immortality of the soul (16:10a), resurrection of the body (16:10b), and eternal personal communion with God (16:11).

This was ultimately fulfilled by Jesus' resurrection (Acts 2:26-31), although it is doubtful that David clearly realized this at the time (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

So, while David didn't like death or look forward to it, he was not afraid of it because he knew it was the doorway to eternal fellowship with God.

Contrast this to old people who get terrified about death unless they know the Lord (MAYFAIR LADIES).

Conclusion

Summarize David's testimony. Do you want to have a similar testimony about your life? It's not difficult or out of reach, no matter how old you are (MAYFAIR LADY) or how much you've goofed up your life (ME). All you have to do is turn away from your other gods (RELIGION; WEALTH; OTHER PEOPLE; etc.), call out to the God of the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ, and tell him you want what he promises in Jn. 7:37,38 (read). From that moment, he will start to build a totally different testimony for your life . . .