Psalm 16:1-11 How to Build Confidence in My Relationship with God
A pastor was leading a group of high school students on a backpacking trip. Being a prudent planner, he had two scoutmasters and an Eagle Scout on the trip to ensure the safety of the students. Wanting to show his value to the team, the pastor went out front to blaze the trail, to show the scouts that he could read the map and stay on the trail. Hiking at a rapid pace, he arrived at the day’s destination long before the scouts. Puffing up with pride, the pastor asked the scouts as they arrived, “What took you so long?” The scouts merely smiled and complimented him.
A little later one of the scouts asked the pastor what he thought about the American bald eagles that had been flying overhead. Another scout asked him what he thought about the beautiful redwood trees. Still, another asked if he had stopped to see the trout that the fishermen along the river had caught. The pastor had to admit he had not seen any of this. Why? Because he was so focused on the destination that he missed the value of the journey! So often we become so enamored with our goals and destination that we do not pay attention to the journey.1
Some theologians have interpreted Psalm 16 as a prophecy about the journey Jesus took from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross and to the resurrection. While I believe that is true, I believe that this psalm also gives us insight into our personal spiritual journey with God. It starts with Jesus and it continues for eternity.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am on this journey with God, I just have trouble trusting God. I mean I trust what Jesus did in my life and what He did for me for my eternity. That’s thinking about the destination. But then there are times when I am wondering: “Is God really going to help me?” “Will He do what He said He would do?” That is thinking about the journey.
In order to build confidence in my relationship with God, I need to look back at my time with God. I need to reflect on how my life depends upon God. For the new Christian, I am reflecting the contrast. I am looking at how different my life was before Christ came into my life. If I have been a Christian for some time, then I need to reflect on the ways that God has been faithful in my life.2
THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD TO MEET MY PAST NEEDS
Where has God been faithful in my life as a Christian? Where has He been faithful to you? The psalmist here, David, has reflected in these first few verses about the faithfulness of God. He sees that God has been faithful in his life. We can see the same areas in which God has met my needs.
God has been faithful with:
1. My security (Psalm 16:1)
“Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.” (Psalm 16:1, HCSB)
When David was in trouble, God protected him from his enemies. I am sure many of you have needed protection. Ultimately, whatever form that protection takes, it’s source should be God.
2. My well-being (Psalm 16:2)
“I said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”” (Psalm 16:2, HCSB)
God is good. He is the source of everything good. Nothing good in my life comes outside of God. Everything that is good in my life derives its goodness from God.
3. My choice of friends (Psalm 16:3)
“As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them.” (Psalm 16:3, HCSB)
This verse describes other similar faithful people. Part of God’s faithfulness in my life has been in providing the faithful people of God around me. I look to my biological family, as well as my faith family. Out of this group come my closest friends. Just as David delighted in these friends in his day, as Christians we need to be thankful for the friends God has given us in our lives. They help us build confidence in our relationship with God. We all should be helping to build one another in our faith.
4. My loyalty (Psalm 16:4)
“The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.” (Psalm 16:4, HCSB)
The friends that God has provided stand in contrast to the people who deny God. Here, David is contrasting loyalties. He looks around him to the people who are worshiping other gods. This is the reason why they are pouring out drink offerings of blood. This is because they are building a relationship with a false god. They go to the false place of worship to spend time with false worshipers of a false god.
People can make the same mistake today. They may say: “I don’t need the church.” “I can worship God alone, without the need of the church.” “I can love Jesus, I just don’t love the church.” The fact is that you are lying to yourself if you think you can worship Jesus outside the relationships God designed for you. God designed for you to be part of an eternal family. You won’t spend time in Heaven alone. So you should not be trying to spend time away from God’s family today.
I realize that by even broadcasting this sermon on Facebook, some people are taking the advantage of watching and learning. That is fine for the occasional worship experience outside your church family. But you were designed for the community to delight ourselves “with the holy ones” not just a connection to a “holy one.”
So God continues along the spiritual journey with us. If we want to trust Him as our Savior and Lord (Psalm 16:1-2), then we have to believe that He will be there for us, even when others don’t trust God (Psalm 16:3-4). In this part of Psalm 16 lists five ways to build my confidence in God.3
FIVE WAYS I CAN BUILD CONFIDENCE IN GOD
1. Trust God as my daily portion (Psalm 16:5)
“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” (Psalm 16:5, HCSB)
When I trust God as my portion, it means that He provides me nourishment. My allotted portion is similar to the portion of meat that the priests received after the sacrifice (Numbers 18:20).
“The Lord told Aaron, “You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.” (Numbers 18:20, HCSB)
In this case, God is my portion who feeds me on a daily basis.
“Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11, HCSB)
If I want to build my confidence with God, I need to see that He provides for me on a daily basis. That can be hard to do. Because we live in a society that teaches that I am responsible for what I have. Or on the other extreme, I let someone else provide for me – whether it is the government, or a family. While all of this is true, ultimately, God is providing for me. He provides for my daily needs. He provides me food, shelter, clothing, all basics. At times, I don’t even realize this. Because I live in society where I am taken care of.This can blind us to loving God and loving others. The reason is because I can become so self-sufficient that I don’t see how God is providing so I stop trusting Him. Because I stop trusting God, I don’t see the needs of other people. I become so self-sufficient that I become absorbed with myself. I become so absorbed with myself that I notice people’s needs around me.
2. Believe God is my blessing (Psalm 16:5)
“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” (Psalm 16:5, HCSB)
God is my cup of blessing. This means that He pours blessings in my life for me to drink. Blessings may not be financial. However, a blessing is a reminder that God provides more for me as His child than just might needs.
3. See that God controls my future. (Psalm 16:5-6)
“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:5–6, HCSB)
God knows my future. He knows what will happen to me. God provides a wonderful inheritance. He provides not just for my present, but also my future.
4. Listen to God counsel me at night (Psalm 16:7).
“I will praise the Lord who counsels me — even at night my conscience instructs me.” (Psalm 16:7, HCSB)
God uses my conscience to instruct me when I sleep. Many times, when I have a problem during the day that I cannot solve, I will go to sleep. My mind works out the problem. In the morning, I am aware of the solution. God can sometimes help me best when I sleep. God wants to give me counsel. He does that when I am conscience. Yet, God can also use dreams to guide me. I just have to be ready to listen to Him when He speaks to me. Pontius Pilate’s wife warned him about the unjustified treatment of Jesus that she learned about in a dream. Sometimes, God will speak to you in your dreams. You need to be willing to listen.
5. Accept that God keeps me eternally secure (Psalm 16:8-11).
The rest of these verses highlight the fact that God provides for my eternal security.4
HOW GOD PROVIDES FOR MY ETERNAL SECURITY
1. He is always near me in life (Psalm 16:8-9).
“I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely.” (Psalm 16:8–9, HCSB)
This keeps me secure to know that God is near me. I don’t have to be nervous. I can be glad, and I can rest securely at night. No matter what is going on around me, God is with me.
2. God will not abandon me in death (Psalm 16:10).
“For You will not abandon me to Sheol; You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.” (Psalm 16:10, HCSB)
One of the areas in which a Christian needs to build confidence is about death. The reason is because there is only One Person who has come back. We don’t have groups of people who can show us what happens when we die and can show us where to go. It’s not like we have instant communication with people in the afterlife. This is an area where one really needs to really trust God in what He said.
Here, this verse is a prophecy about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the psalm speaks about security in death. God will not abandon me. He will be with me in death. Why?
3. God provides eternal security from this life into the next. (Psalm 16:11)
“You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” (Psalm 16:11, HCSB)
God is near me in this life (Psalm 16:8-9). He will not abandon me at death (Psalm 16:10). The reason is because He prepared a place for me in the afterlife. He has revealed a path. He will give me joy in His presence.
As John Piper states5: “Fullness of joy and eternal joy cannot be improved. Nothing is fuller than full, and nothing is longer than eternal. And this joy is owing to the presence of God, not the accomplishments of man.”
Building my confidence in my relationship means that I am secure in knowing that God will provide eternal joy and eternal pleasure in an eternal life. It begins with Jesus, continues every day I live, and it proceeds through the portal of death and ends in the afterlife of eternity in Heaven.
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2, HCSB)
“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, HCSB)
Because of Heaven, I have can eternal confidence in God.
Nicky Gumbel shares the following story about the confidence the Christian can find in God.
Leo Tolstoy, known for his classic work War and Peace, also wrote A Confession, which tells the story of his search for meaning and purpose in life.
Tolstoy rejected Christianity as a child and went to a university seeking pleasure. In Moscow and St. Petersburg he drank heavily, lived promiscuously, and gambled frequently. His ambition was to become wealthy and famous, but nothing satisfied him.
In 1862, he married a wonderful woman, and they had thirteen children. He had everything, yet he was so unhappy that he was on the verge of suicide. “Is there any meaning in my life which will not be annihilated by the inevitability of death, which awaits me?” he said.
Tolstoy searched for the answer in every field of science and philosophy. As he looked around, he saw that people were not facing up to the basic questions of life, such as: Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who am I? What is life all about? Eventually, he found that the peasant people of Russia answered these questions through their Christian faith, and he, too, came to realize that only in Jesus Christ do we find the true meaning of life.6
1 C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms 1–72, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, vol. 1, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015), 117.
2 Dr. George O. Wood, Psalm 16, sermon, Internet, PDF, http://sermons.georgeowood.com/SiteFiles/102297/Content/Psalms/10%20A%20PSALM%20OF%20CONFIDENCE.pdf, accessed on 20 April 2017.
3 Jim Erwin, “Having Confidence with God,” Psalm 16:1-11, 12 November 2015, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), Logos Bible Software Notes, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/11/12/having-confidence-in-god/, accessed on 20 April 2017.
4 Jim Erwin, “Having Confidence with God,” Psalm 16:1-11, 12 November 2015, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), Logos Bible Software Notes, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/11/12/having-confidence-in-god/, accessed on 20 April 2017.
5 John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, Rev. and expanded. (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2000), 282.
6 Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 248–249.Originally from Nicky Gumbel, Questions of Life (Kingsway Publications, 1993), pp. 14–15.