“Preparing To Go Give Joy”
Joy cannot be given unless it is first received from Christ.
Trust God’s Goodness
Trust God’s Ability
Trust God’s Protection
Trust God’s Goodness
Psalm 16:1-4, NKJV
Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”
Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.
Preservation is something that is a priority for all people whether they admit it or not. The idea of staying young, resisting the passing of time by attempting to behave in a manner that relives the glory days of youth, and refusing to celebrate the passing of time are the clear signs that preservation is important to most people. Try as people might, there is no way of preserving the physical life or making it pause at a certain age like twenty-nine or even thirty-nine. In the passage above David is not crying out to the Lord for preservation of age, but of life that is beyond this life physically lived in this world.
The reason why David puts his trust in the Lord is because of who he believes God to be. David believes that God is the self-existent One who needs nothing and is dependent upon nothing. This is something that David is saying his soul has said to the Lord in full submission to God’s authority over his physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life. There is no area where God was not welcomed by David to transform his life. This knowledge is something which everyone has to come to realize at one point in their lives. If a person never comes to accept their physical mortality, then it is impossible to bring themselves under the full authority of God over their life.
David learned the Scriptures as a child and experienced them as a shepherd of sheep. He proclaimed to King Saul how God protected and gave him strength to overcome the bear and the lion as the evidence for why he was confident to come against Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33-37). He made sure that Goliath knew what was going to bring about the end of his boasting and it certainly was not the strength, size, and skill of David (1 Samuel 17:45-47). David understood the protection of God physically, but knew that his life upon the earth was limited. This was made evident when his servants asked him why he stopped mourning when his child to Bathsheba died and only mourned while it was sick (2 Samuel 12:18-23).
David was looking for preservation that was more than merely preserving his earthly life, but life that was connected and fulfilled by the One who created him to have communion with for all eternity. Life that is seen as limited to the context of this world alone is shallow and unfulfilling at best. Earthly life is filled with frustrations and failures, setbacks and trials, and a multitude of things which remind people of the shortness and frailty of it. Life that is connected with the living God who made people for the purpose of communing with Him for all eternity is not limited to the physical things of this world, but the spiritual realities that are limitless in nature and fulfilling in physical life now and spiritually satisfying in ways which our sin tainted natures cannot fathom in the here and now.
David says that his goodness is nothing without God being part of his life. He recognizes the failures and shortcomings of his life before a holy, just, and righteous God. He is completely and utterly dependent upon the Lord. David realizes there is nothing that will provide him any merit before the Lord. Elihu identifies this same idea to Job and his friends when he proclaims that a person cannot take away anything from God when they sin or give God anything when they act righteously (Job 35:5-7). Yet, God takes pleasure in the saints. These are the people who trust in the Lord with a confidence that they are known by the Creator as belonging to Him.
The excellent ones are those people who are revealing the character and strength of the Lord by living in a manner that allows God to place them in circumstances that only He is able to protect them through and raise them above to flourish. David himself is one of these excellent ones. He has allowed God to guide him through many difficult situations, but always finds himself on top. This same idea is familiar with those in Christ. Apostle Paul proclaimed this excellent attitude in Christ as, “...hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed...” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NKJV). The horrible things God’s people encounter and go through in this world is powerless to take their hope away from them.
There ought to be joy that is prevalent in the life of God’s people which cannot be contained due to the surpassing knowledge of who God is and what He has done for them in Christ Jesus. It is God’s incomprehensible love in a width and length and depth and height toward the saints in Christ which is impossible for anyone to truly appreciate, but is able to be known by His people through the great power of God that surpasses human understanding (Ephesians 3:17-21). David experienced a kind of communion with God which is enjoyed and cherished by those in Christ Jesus who trust in God’s goodness in times of great danger, fear, and doubt. David seen over the years of his life the peace of God and the destruction of the enemies of God.
Those who pursued other gods and participated in the rituals of the occult found sorrows multiplied in their lives. David’s life had just as much trouble if not more, but he found obedience to the Lord’s commands kept him from defeat before his enemies. It also gave him joy in his heart that was unquenchable. The joy of the Lord flows from understanding His goodness. This joy David saw as inescapable and chasing after him throughout his life as he continually turned to the Lord in repentance when he was aware of sin in his life. David expresses this in Psalm 23:6 when he says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever” (NKJV).
It is only by the goodness of God that He shows people His love, mercy, and grace which no one ever deserves or is owed to them from God. When God is trusted to be good, a person can view the circumstances of their lives as more than what they are currently experiencing or suffering. The life that is lived on this earth has been hindered by sin and tainted by sins influence, but is only a shadow of the life that God has called people to be living. What was lost in the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden was reclaimed on the cross of Calvary and through the empty grave of the risen Lord.
The God who was good enough to patiently, painstakingly, and sacrificially redeem mankind after they willingly rebelled and sinned against Him will certainly follow through in fulfilling the promises. Christ promised to prepare a place for those who love and follow Him as well as carry them through the present turmoil and strife of this life (John 14:1-3, 16:33). These promises of God ought to bring God’s people great surpassing joy that overpowers any emotion and challenge to their confidence in the Lord. This joy comes only for the knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done on behalf of the person who acknowledges their sinfulness and need of a Savior. Salvation through faith in the shed blood of Christ as being sufficient for the forgiveness of sins is the first taste of God’s goodness for the child of God. His continued care through the lifelong process of sanctification reveals the fullness of God’s goodness day by day. It is God’s ability to change the human heart, that His goodness reveals, which increases and multiplies the joys of those who trust in the Lord.
Trust God’s Ability
Psalm 16:5-8, NKJV
O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
David moves on in this psalm of praise to the Lord by acknowledging his trust in God’s ability to accomplish all the things He has already spoken of about Him. This next sections is the evidence or proof for why God can and will preserve his life as well as everyone who trusts in the Lord.
He says, “O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup...”. David is proclaiming that it is not what the Lord has physically blessed David with or the achievements the Lord has allowed him to be part of or even the promise of some future glory, but the Lord Himself is the thing that is worth living for in his eyes. God is the inheritance David longs for rather than any material thing of this world. The image of the cup is seen as all the things that Lord has ordained David to experience. Those who have given themselves over to the will of God finds that part of what the Lord has prepared for them is to rest in Him.
The image of resting in the Lord is something that was introduced in the creation when God rested on the seventh day and proclaimed it as holy (Genesis 2:1-3). This rest in the Lord for those who look to the Lord are held in God securing the destiny He has prepared for all who will surrender themselves to His authority. Apostle Paul expresses this concept in light of the Son of the living God when he proclaims to the Roman believers that nothing can separate God and those who love Him (Romans 8:31-39).
The pleasantness of David’s inheritance will obviously be good and pleasing since it is in the Lord instead of the temporal, sin tainted things of this world. This is what Jesus was talking about when He encourages people to store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and theft does not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-21). David treasured the guidance, teaching, and advise he received from God through different ways. He recognized the Lord’s hand in working through the Prophet Nathan convicting him of sin (2 Samuel 12:7-15), Abigail the wife of Nabal who prevented him from the shedding of innocent blood (1 Samuel 25:14-35), and God’s direct Spirit upon him in defeating the giant Philistine Goliath on the battle field (1 Samuel 17:40-51).
David’s joy was increased by the Lord’s willingness to step into his life to convict him of sin, prevent him from sinning when he took the time to listen, and to overcome challenges when he was faithful to who God called him to be and trusted in Him. Joy was initiated into the life of David when he placed his trust in the goodness of God rather than his own ability to be good before God. His joy in the Lord was strengthened and grew to be firmly established in his life as he turned to the Lord. Increasing joy can only be cultivated when God’s people set the Lord as the focus of their lives.
Focusing on God is a choice that each person has to make for themselves. David in this psalm has already identified ways he had done this in his life. He recognized that it is God alone who preserved his life (Psalm 16:1). David trusted that the goodness of God did not run out or could not fail him in spite of his abilities or inabilities. David also proclaimed the Lord has the ultimate authority over him regardless of the earthly title of shepherd, mighty warrior, or king which he acquired in his life (Psalm 16:2). David accepted the promises of God as truth and facts which he would look forward to even though the circumstances of his life would indicate he had been abandoned and lied to by God (Psalm 16:5-6). There was little doubt in David’s mind about his future with the Lord his God even though it was something that was a mystery as to what it would actually be like when his life on this earth ended (2 Samuel 23:1-5).
Making God the center of life is more than carrying a Bible around, having crosses in a pocket, or Bible verses posted throughout the home. It is truly a lifestyle where open and honest communication between God and His child exists. God is spoken with about decisions great and small. Time is taken to come into His presence in silence, concentrating on listening to His voice speaking into the heart and mind of His child. It means to allow the Lord the authority to have His way with the situations He brings into any given day and viewing them as training so that trust in His abilities and resources become greater than trust in other things or self.
The view of God in the Church must be one of great dependency. All too often there is a tendency for the children of God to see themselves as the ones God is depending on rather than the ones who need to depend upon Him. Listen to the urgent pleas coming from many pulpits concerning winning people to Christ, evangelizing the world, and bringing about change in society. God is the only One who can change the hearts of people and transform a self-centered society into Christ-centered communities of faith. The people of God are the messengers of the Gospel, the planters and waters of God’s Word in the lives of people, but God is the One who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:4-10). He is the one who brings about transformation of the heart and mind so His perfect will can be known in the life of His child (Romans 12:2).
There is no joy in the stressful attitude of attempting to do only what God is capable of doing Himself. Joy that is abundant and able to be given generously to others is given by Christ through faith in Him, and an understanding of His presence and work in the lives of His people. Jesus proclaimed to His disciples that they were helpless to do anything apart from Him (John 15:5). This means the responsibility is on God to provide the increase to His kingdom. Those who are part of His kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus the Son of God are called to seek first and foremost in their lives the Father’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:31-34). There is no need to focus on fulfilling the personal needs of this life when the focus of a person’s life is upon Almighty God.
David loved God first above all other things and loved others as himself. In doing this he acted wisely in whatever his circumstances were in the immediate and allowed the Lord to care for those things in the future and happening around him. God’s ability is greater than anything a person could ever dream to attain to in their lifetime. Yet, David knew that whatever his circumstances were he would remain firmly established in the will of God. He could not be moved from the path the Lord had set him upon to become the king of people no matter how many times King Saul attempted to take his life. God was in the position of power in David’s life at his right hand.
Therefore, whatever challenges arose externally from enemies or internally due to his sinfulness God was able to change the heart of David and transform him into the man God had called and designed him to be as His child. There must be this same understanding in the body of Christ. God has the ability to accept people as they are and transform them into someone who reflects His glory accurately in their character as they go about the routines of their lives. This is a lifelong process that is filled with many painful experiences that are designed to reveal a person’s frailty and God’s ability to change them and overcome that which is outside of His will. The inadequacies of people will never cause God to push them away nor provide opportunity for enemies to assault and overcome God’s people.
Trust God’s Protection
Psalm 16:9-11, NKJV
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
David knew what a difficult life was like, but also the joy of knowing the Lord as the Protector of his life. Due to all the things he proclaimed in the previous verses of this psalm David now speaks about how he will live in response to the goodness and ability of God to save and care for him.
David’s heart was exceedingly joyful and everything that was known as his which others admired or that he treasured were things he presented as evidence of God’s greatness and presence. These were the glories that he rejoiced in. Whether David had plenty or was lacking necessities in his life he rested in the hope of God’s power and sure promises for God to make His presence known through David His servant. David understood without truly grasping that life did not end in the ground or in separation from God. There was punishment before the righteous living God for those who refused to obey, but peace and rest for those who surrender themselves over to the complete control of God. His soul was not destined to remain in the pit but was to be received into the loving arms of the Lord.
This psalm was used by the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost to proclaim that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead (Acts 2:25-28). This psalm does contain much that is true of Christ, but it cannot be forgotten that this was written in response to the inspiration of the Spirit of God moving in the heart and life of David as well. Yet this is something that everyone who is in Christ can experience and proclaim as David did for his life.
There is a benefit which is available to people today which is known of simply looking forward in anticipation as David did in his lifetime. We know the Holy One who did not see decay in the tomb by the name of Jesus the Christ. It is He who has shown us the path of life which is the narrow way Jesus spoke about in the sermon He gave on the mount (Matthew 7:14). Rest is known by those who trust in the crucified Christ’s shed blood for the forgiveness of sins. The hope we rest in now is the realization of the fullness of the atonement of those who believe in the name of Christ which is above all other names. We will experience that rest when we depart this world in death, but awake on the shores of God’s kingdom never more to depart.
Is this source of the joy held in the hearts of those who are proclaiming Jesus as Lord of their lives? Nothing can cause this joy to be stolen away for any length of time. There will be times of weakness and failure when focus is taken off of the Lord and there will be a sinking into the depths of despair as Peter experienced when he stepped out of the boat to walk on water as soon as he took his eyes off the Lord (Matthew 14:28-32). The Lord reaches out to all who become distracted by the trials and troubles of this life when they turn to Him and cry out. This is the one step that is forgotten by many people. There is a need to refocus the priorities of life whenever the storms of life or the business of the day takes a person away from the safety and joy of being held firm in the arms of God.
David had none of the advantages of knowing what Christ would do on his behalf because of his sin. There was far more joy in David’s heart in his partial knowledge of about a coming Messiah than there is in the hearts of those who claim to have accepted atonement for their sins through Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf. Circumstances must never be allowed to manage the joy of the children of God, but circumstances must be conformed to the joy of the Lord that resides in the heart of God’s people.
It was the joy of the Lord that allowed Paul and Silas to sing praises to God from their jail cell for even there the Lord was protecting them (Acts 16:20-26). Peter and John could stand firm before and go out from the presence of the religious leaders because it was the Lord who was watching over them in all their persecutions (Acts 4:13-23). Stephen could boldly proclaim the Lordship of Christ and cry out for the forgiveness of those who were stoning him because even in that moment of death the Lord was protecting him (Acts 6:8-7:60). These men could all do this because their joy was made complete in Christ as He said He desired to do (John 15:9-11). There are many more in the pages of God’s Word who counted it all joy to suffer for the name of Christ as James encourages believers everywhere to do (James 1:2-4).
The joy of the Lord is infectious and spreads from the one who views the work of Christ in their life as something to rejoice about. Those who have the Lord’s joy in their lives recognizes that the pleasure of God in eternity is worth putting up with the continual struggle against sin in this world. Apostle Paul was inspired to put it this way, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NKJV). Apostle Peter was inspired to say it this way, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9, NKJV).
God has given those who place their trust in the Lord His joy that cannot be contained. It will be displayed whenever trials are encountered by the knowledge that these things cannot separate God’s child from Him (Romans 8:31-39). David knew the power of the Lord to overcome and to fulfill all the promises He made, regardless if he witnessed them during his brief life upon this earth. In the presence of God is the only place where joy can be found in fullness. Joy that is received from everything else besides the Lord is fleeting and empty. Joy that is received from the Lord is lasting and grows in intensity with time spent at the feet of the Savior in prayer and study of His Word.
God can and still does protect His people in spite of their physical death brought about at the hands of their enemies or as a result of disease. Joy cannot be had in the fullness at which God desires His people to have if this life and comfort is tightly held onto as the goal of life. Joy can only be known fully when a person discovers that worship of God in spirit and truth is the greatest goal to be achieved daily. Then and only then will the joy of the Lord pour out from the heart of the person who knows that Christ is their inheritance and the proclamation of the Gospel is the goal of each day’s activity so that others may know the salvation that comes through faith in Christ. It is in the knowledge that God has provided salvation through Christ by His goodness and is able to save those who are hopelessly bound under the tyranny of sin to give them the protection of being sealed in hope by the presence of His Spirit living within all who believe. It is from this place that the fullness of joy is experienced and shared.