In our first two studies of Psalm 16 we looked at David’s prayer for preservation and his confidence that God would maintain his lot. In verses 7-9 we’ll look at five things David learned from God’s loving instruction during a time of great difficulty in his life.
Someone once said, “The trouble with good advice is that it usually interferes with your plans.” It’s not uncommon for people who find themselves in a trying circumstance to search for answers. The advice we receive may or may not always be good or what we want to hear, so we decide whether or not to let it “interfere with our plans.” But unlike people, God is always right and the counsel He gives is always good, and so we should listen to Him and allow Him to show us the right way forward. David knew this firsthand and he decided to let God’s counsel lead his life. The result was fellowship with God, satisfying joy and a great example for us to follow.
First, David learned that God answers prayer. Listen to what he said in verse 7: “I will bless the Lord always who has given me counsel.” The Bible teaches us that God gives counsel to His people, but If we want God’s counsel then we have to ask Him, which means praying. This is what God taught David and is teaching us also in this psalm. The word used for counsel can mean “to advise, guide or give purpose.” David asked for the answers to his questions that concerned his circumstances, and God answered him. When David was given God’s answer it made him glad and he was willing to follow His instruction. James tells us to do the same thing as David did. In James 1:5 he writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” God tells us to ask knowing that He has unlimited wisdom and that He is willing to give it to us. But, make sure that we ask in faith. He continues by saying, “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” God wants us to believe Him and then follow His guidance. David modeled this for us. As so many of us know, this type of spiritual maturity doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why the rest of verse 7 is important for us to grasp.
Second, David learned that Gods gives loving instruction. He tells us when he received God’s guidance. He continues in verse 7 saying, “My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” Notice that it was during a trying season in David’s life that God used the quiet, alone time of the night to teach him. It wasn’t just one night, it was many nights of quiet guidance, prayer to God and waiting for His answer. David learned how to patiently petition God with persistence and patience. That’s not an easy lesson to learn because by nature people don’t like to wait for things. We like having things done for us immediately and the answers to our questions given right away. Living in a world of the iPhone, Siri’s answers and touch screen purchases only feeds that nature. But as A.W. Tozer once put it, “God will never bend to the mechanisms of man.” In other words, He doesn’t change His ways to meet our expectations. Rather, He will teach us what’s right, including instruction us how to wait patiently. The word used for “instruct” in English comes from a Hebrew word that has to do with the idea of “chastening or discipline.” In other words, a key part of the counsel David received from God was the discipline he learned through the difficulty he experienced, and the time spent with God as he poured out his heart to Him, waiting for God to answer.
God’s instruction is personal; it is meant to lead us into a closer relationship with Him. Yes, He gives us the right answers we need to live life here on earth, but it is more than that. He wants us to know Him and understand Him. Psalm 103:7 says, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” Moses didn’t merely know what God did like most of Israel, He knew personally. Like any meaningful relationship, it takes time and patience to learn about the people we care for and love…so it is with God. Patience is a vital part of living for God. So, He patiently instructs us in the school of life. One of my favorite books is titled, God Isn’t in a Hurry by Warren Wiersbe. The title says a lot about the book’s content. In it he reminds us that God is not in a rush to make us spiritually mature. He takes His time because healthy spiritual development takes time. Like the growth and development of our physical bodies, so it is with our spiritual development, slow and often painful. It takes years for us to reach full physical stature. It takes years for us to mature as God works in our lives. We need to learn patience while we wait for God to instruct us. God isn’t just interested in giving us the answer to the test so we can pass it and go on with our life. He is interested in our completeness. The writer of Hebrews says this, “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6-7). If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; “for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” His loving instruction, when received the right way, leads to something else: commitment and security.
Third, God is our true source of security. When David received his answer from God he rejoiced and made a decision to stay committed to Him by keeping his eyes continually on the Lord. That’s what he meant in verse 8: “I have set the Lord always before me.” David knew that God’s leading was right and best. David also knew that God was committed to him. In response, he was committed to constantly trust God and follow His plan.
But there’s something else that he learned from God’s instruction. As we read on in verse 8, he says, “because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” God reassured David that He would defend him. In the days when men fought battles with swords, when one soldier defended another soldier he stood on his right side. That’s what David was referring to. He knew that God was fighting right beside him and because of that he also knew he that wouldn’t be shaken. It was God’s continual support of David that made him feel secure. Because of David’s sense of security, he continued commitment to God’s plan. God wants us to be sure of this as well. He is our defender. He hasn’t changed. He is at our right hand to defend us form the world, the devil, and even or own carnal nature. He is on the right hand of the Father continually interceding to God on our behalf. The source of our security should never rest in us but in God. He is committed to us. The apostle Paul learned that invaluable lesson too. He wrote this shortly before his martyrdom, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). Paul like David was secure in God’s presence and His defense. God wants us to feel secure in His support and commitment to us. But there’s more.
Fourth, God’s Knowledge is personal and satisfying. “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices” (verse 9). David rejoiced when God answered him and God’s answer satisfied David. Not only because it was right but because it was from God Himself. David’s glory was God Himself. David was glad and rejoiced in God. When David heard from God, that was enough and it satisfied him. God’s wisdom will always lead us into fellowship with Him. It was when David was in fellowship with God that he had his greatest joy. William Scroggie said, “The psalmist buries himself, bee-like, in pure delights of communion with the Lord. It’s not in himself that he finds satisfaction but in the ever-present Object (God).” God desires our fellowship. He made us for this and will give this to us if we ask Him for it. He is the initiator of our relationships with Him. He seeks us out first.
Fifth, Gods love is irresistible. His desire for us is to be satisfied with His love and then from a heart satisfied by His love a desire to live for Him. The apostle John said, “We love Him because He first loved us.” His love is what sent Jesus to earth to save us from our sins by dying for us on the cross. His love drew us to Jesus at the beginning of our salvation. The Holy Spirit of God, our Counselor, teaches us to continually consider His love for us and then to trust Him with our lives. He promises to lead us into all truth, and His truth is the counsel we need to support us throughout our lives. He is “the Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). If we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And we can be confident that he will say, “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). We can be certain that He will walk with us and never leave us. The purpose of His personal fatherly loving instruction is for us to know Him personally and to surrender our lives to Him because of His love and mercy shown to us. That’s the right response. That is what God tells us through the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 12:1-2. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will.” Paul said it like this to the Galatians when he personalized it. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
I am reminded of the lame man in the book of Acts, chapter 3 who was begging for money outside of the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful. He was born crippled and was over 40 years of age. He asked Peter and John for some money. Their first answer must have disappointed him. “I don’t have any silver or gold.” But the next thing Peter said to him changed his whole life. “But what I do have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and wall.” He was immediately healed. The rest is history. Now, I have no doubt that the man had questioned God many times during his 40 plus years on earth as to why he was born that way or if God would ever heal him. Finally, the answer came in a way he would’ve never dreamed of. What was the better answer to the man’s request that day? Some money that he would have burned through rather quickly only to be in a place of begging again? Or, rise up and walk? It was the latter. And it was according to God’s perfect timing that the answer came to his deepest and truest need. Jesus had passed that way and perhaps that man many times during His earthly ministry but didn’t heal Him. Why? Because his time hadn’t come yet. But when God answered him, the timing was perfect, and God’s glory radiated out to multitudes of men and women while he rejoiced and thousands of souls were saved. Because of God’s wise and perfect timing we get read about him today and receive encouragement. God’s answers are always right, His timing is perfect and His purposes are perfect. He will answer us in His way and in His time according to His will which is always best. Let’s wait for Him and be instructed.
We have been given His mind (1 Corinthians 2:16), His Spirit (John 14:16) and His Word which endures forever (1 Peter 1:25). We have all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Listen to Him in His Word and pray. Set him before you always. We can trust Him in all circumstances. Even if that means His advice and plans interferes with ours. Even if we have to wait for Him to answer us. It’s for the best because in the end He always works all things together for our good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. We can trust Him. “The future is your friend when Jesus is your Lord” (Warren Wiersbe).