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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Psalms 16

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 16:1 « Michtam of David. » Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

Michtam of David] i.e. David’s precious jewel, or psalm of gold, propter mirificam eius excellentiam, better worth than its weight in gold, both for the matter thereof, and the metre, Insignis Ode Davidis Trem επος χρυσουν, prae corona aestimatur hic Psalmus (R. Solomon). Aureum flumen orationis, said Cicero, concerning Aristotle’s Politics; there is in that book a golden flood of discourse; and Liber iste auro contra non carus, said another, concerning the lives of the philosophers written by Diogenes Laertius, No gold is comparable to that gallant piece. How much more may the same be said of this notable psalm! as that which, beside many other remarkable matters, lively setteth forth the mystery of Christ’s passion and resurrection, with the fruit of both; this he doth more like an evangelist than a prophet, and may, therefore, be called (as likewise Isaiah is) the evangelical prophet. And whereas, saith learned Beza, he calleth the Messiah Chasid, Psalms 16:10 (that is, as I interpret it, that man upon whom the Father hath most plentifully poured out all his grace and bounty, which also we all draw from him alone by faith), David seemeth in this one word to have summed up the whole doctrine of the gospel.

Ver. 1. Preserve me, O God] Keep me safe unto the kingdom, both temporal and eternal, which thou hast promised me; and now that I am fleeing to the Philistines for shelter, 1 Samuel 27:1 (for that is held to be the time when he composed this golden psalm), guard me, guide me, keep me by thy power through faith unto salvation. This prayer of his David was well assured should be granted; and, therefore, he giveth thanks, Psalms 16:7.

For in thee do I put my trust] This was a most powerful plea, for to trust God is the highest honour we can do him, it is to set the crown upon his head. See 9:15. And if such shall be forsaken God will be a great loser in his glory, whereof he is very tender.


Verse 2

Psalms 16:2 [O my soul], thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou [art] my Lord: my goodness [extendeth] not to thee;

Ver. 2. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord] Or, I have said unto the Lord; and so I had rather read it, with Jerome and the Septuagint; because the letter Jod may be wanting in Amarti. See the like, Job 42:2, Ezekiel 16:59. David was here extra se abreptus, carried beyond himself, and so might easily speak short, and say Amart for Amarti; like as Moses, in a passion, said to God, At for Atta, Numbers 11:15, as not able to speak out. Amor Dei est ecstaticus, &c.

Thou art my Lord] Heb. Thou my Lord, so the next words, My good not unto thee; all concise and abrupt, out of deepest affection; broken language from a broken spirit, spending and exhaling itself into God’s blessed bosom.

My goodness extendeth not to thee] But if it did I could with all my heart beteem it thee; even the very best of my best; but what can I give thee save only τα σο εκ των σων, since all is thine own? 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Chronicles 29:16, Psalms 24:1; thou needest no sacrifices, Psalms 50:8, neither art thou delighted therein, Psalms 51:18, Isaiah 1:11. All that thou requirest is mercy, Hosea 6:5, Micah 6:8, Matthew 12:7. Therefore I will seek out those thy receivers, the saints, that are in the earth, &c. {See Trapp on "Job 35:6"} {See Trapp on "Job 35:7"} {See Trapp on "Job 35:8"}


Verse 3

Psalms 16:3 [But] to the saints that [are] in the earth, and [to] the excellent, in whom [is] all my delight.

Ver. 3. But to the saints] The family of faith were, by a specialty, the object of David’s bounty. Socrates, seeing a certain man giving alms to all he met, whether they were good or bad, said, male pereas qui ex gratiis cure sint virgines, facias scorta. David, the better to persuade with God to preserve him safe to the kingdom, promiseth two things: first, that he will cherish and countenance the godly party; secondly, that he will cashier and cast out all kinds of idolatry, and maintain to his utmost the sincere service of God, Psalms 16:4.

And to the excellent] Or, noble, glorious, wonderful, magnificent. The saints are princes in all lands, Psalms 45:16; of an excellent spirit, Proverbs 17:27; more excellent than their neighbours, dwell they wheresover, Proverbs 12:26. They are styled the glory, Isaiah 4:5, a crown of glory, Isaiah 62:3, a royal diadem, ibid., a kingdom of priests, Exodus 19:6, higher than the kings of the earth, Psalms 89:27, greater than the four famous monarchies, Daniel 7:18, worthies of whom the world is not worthy, Hebrews 11:38, fitter to be set as stars in heaven. And surely as stars, though seen sometimes in a puddle or stinking ditch, though they reflect there, yet have they their situation in heaven; so the saints, though here in a low condition, yet are they fixed in the region of happiness.

In whom is all my delight] Heb. Cheptsibam. So the Church is called God’s Hephzibah, Isaiah 62:4. Next to communion with God the communion of saints is most delectable. It is the very being bound up in the bundle of life, which was the blessing of Abigail upon David. Ipse aspectus viri boni delectat, saith Seneca, the very sight of a good man (morally good) delighted; what, then, of a saint? Ezra 10:3. This the heathen persecutors knew, and, therefore, banished and confined the Christians to isles and mines, where they could not one come at another, as Cyprian observeth.


Verse 4

Psalms 16:4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied [that] hasten [after] another [god]: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

Ver. 4. Their sorrows shall be multiplied] Many sorrows shall be to those wicked idolaters, Psalms 32:10, some of their own creating by their superstitions and will worships (vide Plutarch, περι δεισιδαιμονιας); others from a jealous and just God; others from the devil, who acteth and agitateth them, beateth and whippeth them (as at this day he doth the poor Indians, who worship devils in most terrible figure; believing that they are permitted of God to punish or spare them at their pleasure); and some they shall be sure of from me whenever I come to the kingdom. Some, after the Chaldee, read it, their idols are multiplied. The old heathens had thirty thousand in Hesiod’s days. In China there are said to be at this day no fewer than a hundred thousand idols, which they use to whip if they come not at a call to help them. Before a sick man they put the devil’s picture, that he may learn to know him in another world, and take him for his friend.

That hasten after another god] Or, that endow another god. Superstition is not only painful but chargeable. The story is told of one king of England, that he bestowed as much upon a cross as the revenues of his kingdom came to in a year. Idolaters lavish out of the bag, and spare for no cost; witness the Papists’ vowed presents and memories, as they call them, hung up in honour to their male and female saints, the Lady of Loretto especially. But it was the serpent’s grammar that first taught men to decline God in the plural number, Eritis sicut Dii, you will be as gods, as Damianus observeth from Genesis 3:5, and hence that innumerable rabble. The Jesuits boast of their Ignatii Apotheosis; and Cardinal Bembus is not ashamed to say of his St Francis, quod in deorum numerum ab Ecclesia Romana sit relatus (Hist. Venet.). Is not this abominable idolatry? 1 Peter 4:3.

Their drink offerings of blood] Many heathens sacrificed to their idols (that is, to devils) with man’s blood, against all laws of humanity and piety. Thus they sacrificed to Bellona, the sister of Mars; as also with blood let out of their own arms (Euseb. de Praep. Evangel.). The priests of Baal (who perhaps was Mars) cut and lanced themselves, 1 Kings 18:28 So do the Mahometan priests of today; as the Papists whip themselves, &c. The old idolaters offered their children in sacrifice to Moloch, or Saturn. David abhorreth the thought of such inhumanities, Neque deos illegitimos, nec illegitime colam, saith he, I will have no such doings.

Nor take up their names into my lips] But spit them out of my mouth with utmost detestation, according to the law, Exodus 23:13. It repented Austin that ever he had used the word Fortune, that heathen goddess (Epist. ad Damas.). And Absit ut de ore Christiano sonet Iupiter omnipotens, &c., saith Jerome, Let no Christian mouth say, Jupiter omnipotent, or swear Mehercule, Mecastor. The primitive Christians would not call their days of the week dies Martis, Mercurii, &c., as Trismegist had named them; but the first, second, third, &c., day of the week. All occasions or semblances of idolatry should be shunned; it is not safe being at Satan’s mess though our spoon be never so long, saith one. See Hosea 2:16-17, Zechariah 13:2, Deuteronomy 12:2.


Verse 5

Psalms 16:5 The LORD [is] the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

Ver. 5. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance] Therefore I have neither need nor mind to run a madding after dumb idols; for he is good original, universal, all sufficient, and satisfactory, proportionable, and fitting to my soul; so that, having him, I am abundantly provided for.

And of my cup] A phrase taken from those shares that every one had assigned unto him at feasts, Genesis 43:34, 1 Samuel 1:4; 1 Samuel 9:23 : q.d. Thou art my meat and my drink, Lord, and I am very well content with my condition, be it better or worse. That which gives quiet in any portion, is, First, The favour and presence of God; Secondly, That it is from the hand of a Father; Thirdly, That it comes to us in the covenant of grace; Fourthly, That it is the purchase of Christ’s blood; Fifthly, That it is an answer of prayers, and a blessing from above on honest endeavours.

Thou maintainest my lot] Upholdest me in a good condition, who should otherwise soon lose and forego it, were it in mine own keeping. And here the psalmist useth four several words, all to the same sense, ad corroborandum, saith R. David.


Verse 6

Psalms 16:6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant [places]; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Ver. 6. The lines are fallen] In allusion to those lines wherewith they measured land when they parted it. See Deuteronomy 32:9, Psalms 105:11; Psalms 78:55, Acts 26:18, Ephesians 1:11. David, having God for his portion, could say with Jacob, I have all things, Genesis 33:11. Paul also saith the same, Philippians 4:18, and further telleth us that, having nothing, he yet possessed all things; for why, he had got the divine art of contentation, Philippians 4:12, and so could be either on the top of Jacob’s ladder or at the bottom; he could sing either Placentia or Lachrymae, abound or be abased, &c. Sine Deo omnis copia est egestas (Bern.).

In pleasant places] From the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison, said that Italian martyr, dating his letter. Tua praesentia, Domine, Laurentio ipsam craticulam dulcem fecit, said that ancient; Thy presence, Lord, made Laurence’s gridiron pleasant to him. Quia in Deo est portio mea, est quasi in loco amaeno (R. David).

Yea, I have a goodly heritage] I have as much (in content at least) as he who hath most. The bee is as well pleased with feeding on the dew, or sucking from a flower, as Behemoth that grazeth on the mountains. The lark when aloft seeth farther, with a little eye, than the ox on the ground with a greater.

Atque suum tirilitirilitiritirlire cantat.


Verse 7

Psalms 16:7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Ver. 7. I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel] David frequently consulted with God by Abiathar the priest, whom God, by a sweet providence, sent unto him with an ephod for a comfort in his banishment, 1 Samuel 22:20. Saul had slain those that wear the ephod, therefore God answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets, 1 Samuel 28:6, as he did his servant David; who therefore blesseth him, when the other runneth from him to the witch for counsel, and from her to the sword’s point.

My reins also instruct me] God hath not only illuminated me, whereby I shall be the better able to endure a great fight of affliction, Hebrews 10:32, but he hath also sanctified me, and honoured me with holy inspirations, and feeling of the Spirit of adoption, whereby mine internal thoughts and secret motions do dictate and suggest unto me what I ought to do and undertake. Methinks I hear a sweet still voice within me, saying, This is the way, walk in it; and this in the night season, when I am wrapped in rest and silence; or, night after night, the Spirit is a continual spring of counsel and comfort within me, prompting me to make God my portion, and to choose this good part that shall never be taken away from me.

In the night seasons] When commonly we are prone to evil ( Nox et Amor, &c. Ilia pudore vacat, &c. (Ovid.)), and which is the wicked man’s fittest opportunity, Job 24:13; Job 24:15-16, &c. It must not content us that God by his word hath given us counsel, but we must labour to be inwardly taught of God. A man may read the figure upon the dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes, unless the sun shine upon the dial; we may read the Bible over, and hear it opened and applied, but can learn nothing till the Spirit shine into our hearts, 2 Corinthians 4:6, and so our reins instruct us, &c.


Verse 8

Psalms 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Ver. 8. I have set the Lord always before me] Heb. I have equally set, or proposed. The apostle translateth it, "I foresee the Lord always before my face," Acts 2:25. I set the eye of my faith full upon him, and suffer it not to take to other things; I look him in the face, oculo irretorto, as the eagle looketh upon the sun; and oculo adamantino, with an eye of adamant, which turns only to one point; so here, I have equally set the Lord before me, without irregular affections and passions. And this was one of those lessons that his reins had taught him, that the Holy Spirit had dictated unto him.

Because he is as my right hand] To help me that I fall not, saith R. David, or as a thing that I cannot but remember, as being of continual use to me. It is as necessary to remember God, as to draw breath, saith Chrysostom.

I shall not be moved] i.e. Not greatly moved, as Psalms 62:2. Though Satan stand at the right hand of a godly man, to resist and annoy him, Zechariah 3:1, yet so long as God is at his right hand, to assist and comfort him, and he at God’s right hand, Psalms 45:9 (which is a place of honour and safety), he cannot be moved. The gates of hell shall never prevail; Christ, our Samson, hath flung them off their hinges.


Verse 9

Psalms 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Ver. 9. Therefore my heart is glad, &c.] That is, I am all over in very good plight, as well as heart can wish or need require; I do overly abound exceedingly with joy. God forgive me mine unthankfulness and unworthiness of so great glory (as that martyr, Mr Philpot, said). In all the days of my life I was never so merry as now I am in this dark dungeon, &c. Wicked men rejoice in appearance, and not in heart, 2 Corinthians 5:12; their joy is but skin deep, their mirth frothy and flashy, such as wetteth the mouth, but warmeth not the heart. But David is totus totus, quantus quantus exultabundus, his heart, glory, flesh (answerable, as some think, to that of the apostle, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, spirit, soul, and body), were all over joyed.

My flesh shall also rest (or confidently dwell) in hope] Namely, in this world, as in a way faring lodging; then in the grave, as a place of safeguard and repose; and at last in heaven, as in its true and eternal mansion (Diodati).


Verse 10

Psalms 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Ver. 10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell] That is, my body in the grave ( animamque sepulchro condimus - Virg, de Polydori funere. Aeneid. iii.), or in the state of the dead, Genesis 37:35. That soul is sometimes put for a carcase or dead corpse, see Job 14:22; Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 21:1; Leviticus 21:11;, Numbers 5:2; Numbers 6:6; Numbers 19:13, which place is expounded, Ezekiel 44:25. David can confidently write upon his grave, Resurgam, I shall rise again. This many heathens had no hope of, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (Horat. lib. iv. Od. 7).

Cum semel occideris,

Non Torquate, tuum genus, aut facundia, non te

Restituet pietas, &c.

Yet some heathens believed both the immortality of the soul, and therefore durst die ( - animaeque capaces mortis - ), and the resurrection of the body, as did Zoroastes, Theopompus, Plato; and as do the Turks today.

Neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one, &c. That is, the Messiah that is to come out of my loins, and who saith to me and all his members {as Isaiah 26:19} in effect, "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust," &c. {See Trapp on the title Michtam "Psalms 16:1"} The former part of this verse seems to be spoken of David, the latter of Christ; like as Job 35:15, the former part is of God, the latter of Job. See the margin. Christ’s resurrection is a cause, pledge, and surety of the saint’s resurrection to glory; for joy whereof David’s heart leaped within him. Christ’s body, though laid in the corrupting pit, could not see, that is, feel, corruption, it was therefore a pious error in those good women who brought their sweet odours to embalm his dead body, Luke 24:1.


Verse 11

Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

Ver. 11. Thou wilt show me the path of life] This being applied to Christ, seemeth to show that as man he did not yet fully understand that inexplicable glory wherewith the Father would glorify him after death with himself, John 17:5. Sure it is, that David did not, nor can any man living, 1 Corinthians 2:9 : here is as much said as can be said (but words are too weak to utter it). For quality, there is in heaven joy and pleasures. For quantity, a fulness, a torrent, whereat they drink without let or loathing. For constancy, it is at God’s right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand; it is a constant happiness without intermission. And for perpetuity, it is for evermore. Heaven’s joys are without measure, mixture, or end. Contra Acheron, ab αα χαιρειν, quod sit illaetabilis unda; vel ab αχος and υριν ( ut vult Plato) quod fluat luctuosis undis.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 16:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-16.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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