Psalm 16

Psalm 16[a]

God the Supreme Good

1 A miktam[b] of David.

Protect me, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints[c] who are in the land,
they are the noble ones,
and in them there is all my delight.
4 Those who chase after other gods
only multiply their sorrows.
Never will I pour out libations of blood to them,
nor will I take up their names[d] on my lips.
5 O Lord, you are my allotted portion and my cup;[e]
you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have established a pleasant site for me;
I have truly received a wonderful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who offers me counsel;
even during the night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the Lord always before me,
for with him at my right hand
I will never fall.
9 [f]Therefore, my heart is glad
and my soul rejoices;
my body too is filled with confidence.
10 For you will not abandon me to the netherworld
or allow your Holy One[g] to suffer corruption.
11 You will show me the path to life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence
and everlasting delights at your right hand.


  1. Psalm 16:1 A prayer for safekeeping, pleading for the Lord’s protection against the threat of death. It could also be called a psalm of trust. This psalm prepares the way for belief in an everlasting life with God. And it is easy to see how early Christian preachers could understand the final verses as a detailed prophecy of the Resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:24-28; 13:25).
    This psalm is in a special way the prayer of those who have “chosen God” in one or other form of consecrated life. Rarely has the joy of a life lived in the presence of God been expressed with such enthusiasm. The wonder felt penetrates to the innermost being of the believer (that is, the “heart,” which for the ancients was the seat of one’s thoughts as well as desires and affections).
  2. Psalm 16:1 Miktam: its meaning is unknown. Some translate it as “song” or “poem”; others suggest that it means “in a low voice.”
  3. Psalm 16:3 Another possible translation is: “As for the gods who are in the land / and the lofty ones, / I take no delight in them.” Saints: i.e., the godly who live on earth as opposed to the angelic beings who are heavenly. See notes on Pss 4:4; 34:10.
  4. Psalm 16:4 Take up their names: that is, appeal to or worship them (see Jos 23:7).
  5. Psalm 16:5 Cup: a metaphor referring to what the host offers his guests to drink. To the righteous the Lord offers a cup of blessings (see Ps 23:5) or salvation (see Ps 116:13), but he makes the wicked drink from a cup of wrath (see Jer 25:15; Rev 14:10; 16:19).
  6. Psalm 16:9 The Lord, in whom the psalmist takes refuge, wills life for him (hence he has made known to him the path of life, v. 11) and will not abandon him to the grave, even though “heart and . . . flesh fail” (Ps 73:26). But implicit in these words of assurance (if not actually explicit) is the confidence that, with the Lord as his refuge, even the grave cannot rob him of life (see Pss 17:15; 73:24). If this could be said of David, how much more of David’s promised Son! So Peter quotes verses 8-11 and declares that with these words David prophesied of Christ and his Resurrection (Acts 2:25-28; see Paul’s similar use of v. 10b in Acts 13:35). Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
  7. Psalm 16:10 Holy One: the reference is first of all to David, but the psalm is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

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