The Treasury of David

Psalm 16

Title. Michtam Of David. This is usually understood to mean The Golden Psalm, and such a title is most appropriate, for the matter is as the most fine gold. Ainsworth calls it “David’s jewel, or notable song.” Dr. Hawker, who is always alive to passages full of savour, devoutly cries, “Some have rendered it precious, others golden, and others, precious jewel; and as the Holy Ghost, by the apostles Peter and Paul, hath shown us that it is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, what is here said of him is precious, is golden, is a jewel indeed!” We have not met with the term Michtam before, but if spared to write upon Psalms 56:1-60:12, we shall see it again, and shall observe that like the present these psalms, although they begin with prayer, and imply trouble, abound in holy confidence and close with songs of assurance as to ultimate safety and joy. Dr. Alexander, whose notes are peculiarly valuable, thinks that the word is most probably a simple derivative of a word signifying to hide, and signifies a secret or mystery, and indicates the depth of doctrinal and spiritual import in these sacred compositions. If this be the true interpretation it well accords with the other, and when the two are put together, they make up a name which every reader will remember, and which will bring the precious subject at once to mind. The Psalm Of The Precious Secret.

Subject. We are not left to human interpreters for the key to this golden mystery, for, speaking by the Holy Ghost, Peter tells us, “David speaketh concerning Him.” (Acts 2:25) Further on in his memorable sermon he said, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 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 2:29-31) Nor is this our only guide, for the apostle Paul, led by the same infallible inspiration, quotes from this psalm, and testifies that David wrote of the man through whom is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 13:35-38) It has been the usual plan of commentators to apply the psalm both to David, to the saints, and to the Lord Jesus, but we will venture to believe that in it “Christ is all; “since in the ninth and tenth verses, like the apostles on the mount, we can see “no man but Jesus only.”

Division. The whole is so compact that it is difficult to draw sharp lines of division. It may suffice to note our Lord’s prayer of faith, Psalms 16:1, avowal of faith in Jehovah alone, Psalms 16:2-5, the contentment of his faith in the present, Psalms 16:6-7, and the joyous confidence of his faith for the future (Psalms 16:8, 11).
The Treasury of David.

Singing Psalms 16

Psalm 16:10


Our Lord Jesus was not disappointed in his hope. He declared his Father’s faithfulness in the words, thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, and that faithfulness was proven on the resurrection morning. Among the departed and disembodied Jesus was not left; he had believed in the resurrection, and he received it on the third day, when his body rose in glorious life, according as he had said in joyous confidence, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Into the outer prison of the grave his body might go, but into the inner prison of corruption he could not enter. He who in soul and body was preeminently God’s “Holy One, “was loosed from the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. This is noble encouragement to all the saints; die they must, but rise they shall, and though in their case they shall see corruption, yet they shall rise to everlasting life. Christ’s resurrection is the cause, the earnest, the guarantee, and the emblem of the rising of all his people. Let them, therefore, go to their graves as to their beds, resting their flesh among the clods as they now do upon their couches.

“Since Jesus is mine, I will not fear undressing,

But gladly put off these garments of clay; To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing,

Since Jesus to glory through death led the way.”

Wretched will that man be who, when the Philistines of death invade his soul, shall find that, like Saul, he is forsaken of God; but blessed is he who has the Lord at his right hand, for he shall fear no ill, but shall look forward to an eternity of bliss.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, etc. The title of this golden text may be—The embalming of the dead saints: the force whereof is to free the souls from dereliction in the state of death, and to secure the bodies of God’s saints from corruption in the grave. It is the art which I desire to learn, and at this time, teach upon this sad occasion, (1) even the preparing of this confection against our burials. George Hughes, 1642.

(1) A Funeral Sermon.

Many of the elder Reformers held that our Lord in soul actually descended into hell, according to some of them to suffer there as our surety, and according to others to make a public triumph over death and hell. This idea was almost universally, and as we believe, most properly repudiated by the Puritans. To prove this fact, it may be well to quote from Corbet’s witty itinerary of, “Four clerks of Oxford, doctors two, and two That would be doctors.” He laments the secularisation of church appurtenances at Banbury, by the Puritans, whom he described as, “They which tell That Christ hath never descended into Hell, But to the grave.”—C.H.S. The quotation is from Richard Corbet’s Poems, 1632.

My soul in hell. Christ in soul descended into hell, when as our surety he submitted himself to bear those hellish sorrows (or equivalent to them), which we were bound by our sins to suffer for ever. His descension is his projection of himself into the sea of God’s wrath conceived for our sins, and his ingression into most unspeakable straits and torments in his soul, which we should else have suffered for ever in hell. This way of Christ’s descending into hell is expressly uttered in the person of David, as the type of Christ. Psalms 86:13, 116:3, 69:1-3. Thus the prophet Isaiah saith, “His soul was made an offering.” Isaiah 53:10. And this I take it David means, when he said of Christ, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” Psalms 16:10 Acts 2:1-47. And thus Christ descended into hell when he was alive, not when he was dead. Thus his soul was in hell when in the garden he did sweat blood, and on the cross when he cried so lamentably, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 26:38. Nicholas Byfield’s “Exposition of the Creed,” 1676.

In hell. Sheol here, as hades in the New Testament, signifies the state of the dead, the separate state of souls after death, the invisible world of souls, where Christ’s soul was, though it did not remain there, but on the third day returned to its body again. It seems best of all to interpret this word of the grave as it is rendered; Genesis 42:38 Isaiah 38:18. John Gill.

Thine Holy One. Holiness preserves the soul from dereliction, in the state of death, and the body of the saint from corruption in the grave. If it be desired by any that doubt of it, to see the clear issue of this from the text, I shall guide them to read this text with a great accent upon that term, “Thine Holy One,” that they may take special notice of it, even the quality of that man exempted from these evils. In this the Spirit of God puts an emphasis on holiness, as counter working and prevailing over death and the grave. It is this and nothing but this, that keeps the man, dead and buried, from desertion in death, and corruption in the grave. George Hughes.

The great promise to Christ is, that though he took a corruptible body upon him, yet he should not see corruption, that is, partake of corruption: corruption should have no communion with, much less power over him. Joseph Caryl.

Quoted by the apostle Peter (Acts 2:27); on which Hackett (Com. in loc.) observes:—”The sense then may be expressed thus: Thou wilt not give me up as prey to death; he shall not have power over me, to dissolve the body and cause it to return to dust.”

Hints to the Village Preacher

Ver. 9-10. Jesus cheered in prospect of death by the safety of his soul and body; our consolation in him as to the same.

Jesus dead, the place of his soul and his body. A difficult but interesting topic.

Ver. 10-11. Because he lives we shall live also. The believers, therefore, can also say, Thou wilt show me the path of life. This life means the blessedness reserved in heaven for the people of God after the resurrection. It has three characters. The first regards its source—it flows from his presence. The second regards its plenitude—it is fulness of joy. The third regards its permanency—the pleasures are for evermore. William Jay.
The Treasury of David.

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