The longing to be happy is one of the most basic of all human desires. For example, parents will often pay a lot of money to ensure their children receive a good education, because they see it as the pathway to finding a satisfying, well-paid job-and therefore happiness. Happiness is a God-given desire. He wants us to be happy now, and to have an even happier eternity. Our problem is not in craving happiness, but in where we think we’ll find it.
Psalm 16 is a wonderfully joyful song. David begins by rejoicing that God is his refuge (v. 1). Then he sings, ″apart from you I have no good thing″ (v. 2). Later he describes God as ″my portion and my cup″ (v. 5), his food and drink. In other words, David is rejoicing in the fact that God is all that he needs.
David also takes delight in ″the noble ones″ (v. 3). The Lord rejoices in us when we stay faithful to Him.
One reason David delights in the Lord is that ″the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places″ (v. 6). When the tribes of Israel settled in the Promised Land, each tribe was assigned pieces of land. So, David says, I’ve been blessed because I’ve been given a pleasant piece of land. But remember, this is poetry. He’s talking not just about geography, but about all the blessings God has poured on him.
Finally, David is full of joy because there are ″eternal pleasures at your right hand″ (v. 11). Many people make the mistake of tying happiness to earthly things like possessions or experiences. But the greatest joy is knowing God, and we have the wonderful prospect of living with Him forever (v. 11).
When Peter was preaching at Pentecost, he quoted Psalm 16:8-11 in saying that God did not abandon Jesus to the grave (Acts 2:26-28). This is a wonderful comfort to us who follow Him. God will never abandon us too, even in death; instead, He will bring us into eternal joy. Peter’s sermon helps us understand that, pre-eminently, David’s song was pointing to Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. Because God did not abandon Him to the realm of the dead, even now Jesus is filled with joy in the Father’s presence.
It’s good to find joy in the things of earth. When, and how, can these things replace the joy we should find in knowing God?
″I keep my eyes always on the Lord″ (Psalm 16:8). What practical steps can we take to daily keep our focus on the Lord?