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Fullness of Joy - Psalm 16

May 1, 2022

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Series: A Heart for God
Scripture: Psalm 16

Fullness of Joy

Psalm 16 – A Heart for God (Series from the Book of Psalms) – May 1, 2022


Reading from Psalm 16.

Ingrid Fetell Lee did a TED Talk in 2018 called “Where Joy Hides and Where to Find It.”[1] She talked about being in design school & displaying her work, professors reviewing. She waited nervously as the professors looked. Finally one said, “Your work gives me a feeling of joy.”

She was puzzled…then curious…then decade-long search for why objects, tangible things can bring joy. She asked strangers what things gave them joy. Certain answers would keep popping up—hot-air balloons, fireworks, rainbows, cherry blossoms, ice-cream cones (esp with sprinkles), swimming pools.

Things marked by color, abundance, curves instead of angles. Then tapped into designers and architects around the world finding the same thing, who were experimenting w/ adding these elements in schools, hospitals, office buildings.

She finished by saying,

Each moment of joy is small, but over time, they add up to more than the sum of their parts. And so maybe instead of chasing after happiness, what we should be doing is embracing joy and finding ways to put ourselves in the path of it more often. Deep within us, we all have this impulse to seek out joy in our surroundings. And we have it for a reason. Joy isn't some superfluous extra. It's directly connected to our fundamental instinct for survival. On the most basic level, the drive toward joy is the drive toward life.
Ingrid Fetell Lee, “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It”[2]

She meant nothing religious here. But she’s right. “We all have this impulse to seek out joy….The drive toward joy is the drive toward life.”

Ingrid Fetell Lee described herself as a detective looking for joy, “the Nancy Drew of joy.” God in Psalm 16 is telling us, “It’s not hidden. It’s right here! It’s me!”

This is week 2 of our Psalm series: A Heart for God. Last couple of years we’ve taken the weeks after Easter to dive into the book of Psalms. The Psalms unpack for us what it is to have a heart for God. This morning Psalm 16, one of David’s Psalms. King David wrote about half the book of Psalms. Some written before he becomes king, some after. My guess is Psalm 16 was written after he becomes king in the early and triumphant part of his reign, but we can’t be sure.

Psalm 16 inspires a heart for God by reminding us of the sheer joy we have in God himself.

God in Psalm 16 will tell us three things about joy: (1) Joy is only in God, (2) Joy is truly in God, and (3) Joy is Securely in God.


I.              Joy is Only in God (16:1–4)

In these opening verses God teaches us that joy is only in him.

David begins with a cry for help—“Preserve me, O God!” David isn’t naïve. He isn’t preaching some joy or happiness that ignores the realities of life.

He speaks from the midst of some kind of hardship—a hardship where his obstacles and enemies are real.

Then he says, “FOR in you I take refuge” (v. 1). Take refuge = phrase used often in the OT to communicate what it means to trust in the LORD. The Israelite who entrusts himself to the LORD is said to be “taking refuge” in the LORD. Seeing the LORD as a covering, protection, help (Ruth 2:12; Psalm 2:12; Nahum 1:7; Zeph 3:12).

And the prophets rebuke Israel when it “takes refuge” in Egypt or other nations instead of the LORD (Isa 30:2).

These verses really describe what it means to take refuge in the LORD.

Verse 2: It means to say to him, “You are my Lord” (Adonai) (v.2). “My Adonai” means “My Lord, Master.” Recognition that YHWH, the LORD, doesn’t just have the TITLE of Lord in your life. He has the POSITION of Lord in your life.

Then in verse 2 one of the key truths of this Psalm ,“I have no good apart from you” (v. 2).

  • Calling YHWH his Adonai, his Master, isn’t a bitter or begrudging thing. He knows, “I have no good apart from you” (v. 2).
  • Verse 3: It means to be with others who take refuge in the LORD. And in the LORD he’s not alone—v. 3. “The saints in the land” are with him. And “all my delight” is in them.
  • The option isn’t open to us to love God but hate his people. David calls them “the excellent ones,” “all my delight” (v. 3).

Then he uses CONTRAST to make the same points—V. 4.

  • Sorrows…shall multiply” instead of “no good apart from you”
  • For “those who run after another god” (v. 4), or “barter for another god.”
  • For those who make “drink offerings of blood” or “take the names of other gods on their lips” (v. 4).

APPLICATION: The basic truth and HOW to access it.

  • “No good apart from” God and “sorrows multiply” for false gods.
  • HOW to access it? Say to the LORD, “My Adonai.”
  • “Take refuge” in him.

II.            Joy is Truly in God (16:5–7)

Read Psalm 16:5–7.

Now we see that when David’s talking about joy, he means it. Something desirable that you possess. Something that affects you emotionally.

To make his point he talks about 3 things we’re given.

A.   FIRST, we’re given God himself (v. 5).

Verse 5: “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup.” Chosen portion = When 12 tribes divided up the Promised Land, the tribe of Levi, who were the priests, were not given any land. Why? The Lord himself was their inheritance, their lot, their portion.

And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.” (Num 18:20)

My cup.” Another way of saying “my life.” The LORD is his life.

What God has given is good because what we’re given is God himself: The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup.”

  • We’ve received the most valuable and helpful and desirable thing we could receive, because we’ve been given God himself.
  • Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:

 45   “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt 13:45–46)

  • The kingdom of heaven is like that because receiving the kingdom is receiving the KING!

B.   SECOND, the big and small details of our lives are providentially given by God, and they’re good (v. 6).

Verse 6: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Again it’s a reference to Israel dividing up the Promised Land (see Josh 17:5). The Psalm is saying, the land has been divided and the portion given to me is “pleasant” and “beautiful.” I look around at its trees and creeks and soil and it’s “pleasant,” “beautiful.”

God is pictured here actively dividing up the land and giving us a specific parcel. It’s got specific boundaries. It’s HERE, not THERE. It’s this size and not BIGGER. This size and not SMALLER. It’s got this type of soil, not that type of soil. Other pieces of land are further upstream or further downstream, but yours is at this particular spot.

David is speaking metaphorically: These boundary lines apply to anything where you’re given a measure of something specific: Your income is exactly what it is and not different…your skill set at work…your education…your past…your family size…your brain…your IQ…your personality…your particular blend of strengths and weaknesses.

It’s easy to resent what God has given and think there’s some mistake in it: “I was supposed to get another piece of land, a piece with a better water source. My piece of land is too big, I can’t manage it. It’s too small, I can’t raise a family on it.”

But David reminds us: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

C.   THIRD, To teach us JOY IS TRULY IN GOD we’re reminded of a third thing God gives: GUIDANCE.

And then in v. 7, we see another evidence that the LORD gives himself—“the LORD…gives me counsel.”

  • In other words, in the middle of the night he’s there!
  • He’s there speaking.
  • He’s there instructing.
  • He speaks, and he inspires thoughts that “instruct me.”

God gives himself, perfectly fitted big and small details in our lives, and guidance. Joy is TRULY in God.

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, considers this aspect of JOY and says:

I want to stress what I think that we (or at least I) need more: the joy and delight in God which meet us in the Psalms…. This is the living center of Judaism. These poets knew far less reason than we for loving God. They did not know that He offered them eternal joy; still less that He would die to win it for them. Yet they express a longing for Him, for His mere presence, which comes only to the best Christians or to Christians in their best moments. They long to live all their days in the Temple so that they may constantly see “the fair beauty of the Lord” (27:4). Their longing to go up to Jerusalem and “appear before the presence of God” is like a physical thirst (42). From Jerusalem His presence flashes out “in perfect beauty” (50:2). Lacking that encounter with Him, their souls are parched like a waterless countryside (63:2). They crave to be “satisfied with the pleasures” of His house (65:4)…. One day of those “pleasures” is better than a lifetime spent elsewhere (10).
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms[3]

III.          Joy is Securely in God (16:8-11)

In final section we learn something else about this JOY IN GOD: IT’S SECURE.

Read Psalm 16:8–11.

Joy is securely in God.

  • End of v. 8, “I shall not be shaken.”
  • End of v. 9, “my flesh also dwells secure.”
  • Verse 10, “not abandon my soul to Sheol.”
  • Verse 11, “pleasures forevermore.”

The Psalm is telling us we’ve been given a supreme joy. But what good is a supreme joy if you know you won’t be able to keep it? If it won’t last? If your enemies can come at any minute and steal it and destroy you? Proverbial, “Beat you up and take your lunch money.”

But here we learn that no enemy, no challenge, not even death itself can rob us of our greatest possession, which is God himself.

Nothing else in the world can promise this kind of joy.

But if we look at v. 10 it sounds like hyperbole, exaggeration. It’s a promise death won’t affect us in the same way it affects other people. Our soul even in death won’t be abandoned. But it goes further: bodies not decay, “see corruption.”

Yet King David died—and his son Solomon, and all their offpspring who reigned as king in Israel and Judah. So, what’s up with that?

In the NT, Psalm 16:10 gets quoted in two prominent places: one is Acts 2 and the other is Acts 13. We’ll look at Acts 13 now and save Acts 2 for Pentecost Sunday on June 12th. Paul in a sermon he preaches in 1st missionary journey:

“Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ [HEAR Psalm 16:10???] 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:35–39)

The “HOLY ONE” who didn’t “see corruption” is Jesus—raised on the 3rd day. Before physical decomposition had begun. Not raised on the 10th day or 30th day when his body would have “seen corruption.” But the 3rd day before this occurred.

The result? Because Jesus was raised from the dead, “forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (13:38). Because Jesus didn’t see corruption, we are “freed” (Grk., justified). Because Jesus didn’t see corruption, God will fulfill his promise to give us eternal life.

[Christ] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Rom 4:25)

Lewis again:

All Christians know something the Jews did not know about what it “cost to redeem their souls.” Our life as Christians begins by being baptized into a death; our most joyous festivals begin with, and center upon, the broken body and the shed blood. There is thus a tragic depth in our worship which Judaism lacked. Our joy has to be the sort of joy which can coexist with that; there is for us a spiritual counterpoint where they had simple melody. But this does not in the least cancel the delighted debt which I, for one, feel that I owe to the most jocund Psalms. There…I find an experience fully God-centered, asking of God no gift more urgently than His presence, the gift of Himself, joyous to the highest degre, and unmistakably real. What I see (so to speak) in the faces of these old poets tells me more about the God whom they and we adore.
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms[4]

This brings us to Psalm 16:11, the final verse in this Psalm, a summary of all that has been said. What is a way to summarize all the blessings David has listed out for us?

It means “life…fullness of joy…pleasures forevermore” (v. 11). How rich! Amazing!

And not just in the next life (“forevermore”), true as that is. It means “life” and “joy” in THIS LIFE.

It’s like the dad leading a hiking trip out west. Some experienced trail guides were on the trip. He feels like he needs to prove himself. Studies the trail map carefully. Heads out at a fast pace. Gets to the campsite way ahead of the others. Everyone gets there and he asks mockingly, “So, what took you so long?” And then they begin to ask, did you see the bald eagles, the massive trout those guys caught, the redwoods? “Uh, no.” Christian joy is not just about the destination. It’s there in the journey, too![5]


Ingrid Fetell Lee asked “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It.” Psalm 16 has an answer for her:

  • Turning away (from other gods) and turning to (him)
  • Time with “the saints in the land” (your local church!)
  • Learn ABOUT Him
  • Spend time with him
  • Talk to him

Remember from Psalm 16, what you’ve been given is good.

  • He gives blessings, and even the things that seem terrible he uses

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

  • All things are either good or will work together for good—b/c he is good!

And nothing and no one in this life can take this away—Romans 8:35–39:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31–39)

Prayer and Closing Song


[1] See

[2] See

[3] C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (NY: Harvest, 1958), 50–51.

[4] C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (NY: Harvest, 1958), 52–53.

[5] Thanks to C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms Volume 1: Psalms 1–72, TTCS (Baker, 2015), for the story.

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