Psalm 16—God Is Our Security
Preserve me, O God, for in Thee I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “Thou art my Lord; I have no good apart from Thee. As for the saints in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight. Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their libations of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; Thou holdest my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure. For Thou doest not give me up to Sheol, or let Thy godly one see the Pit. Thou dost show me the path of life; in Thy presence there is fullness of joy, in Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Preserve me, O ______, for in Thee I take refuge. See how many things we can fill in the blank with.
Preserve me, O house, for in Thee I take refuge, until I have to move, or you become too big for me to manage, or until the kids move out and I downsize you.
Preserve me, O job, for in Thee I take refuge, until I decide I’ve had enough and quit, or I become old and retire, or they decide they can do better with young and cheaper and get rid of me.
We can’t rely on houses or jobs to preserve us until the end. They come and go. Let’s go to some things that are more permanent.
Preserve me, O spouse, for in Thee I take refuge, I love you with all my heart, but most likely one of us will die first and then I won’t have you.
Preserve me, O children, for in Thee I take refuge, or at least I might once you are an adult, until you marry and have a family of your own.
And even though we love our spouses and our families, we can’t even rely on them until the END. We can rely on them today, but there are plenty of widows who don’t have spouses to rely on and plenty of parents whose children have moved far away. Ok, let’s go to something more personal, our own selves.
Preserve me, O self, for in Thee I take refuge. Except for if I get sick then I might not even be able to do that.
This is why our trust should be placed first and foremost in God, because He is our security. Psalm 16:1 reads: “I will say to the Lord, “Thou art my Lord, I have no good apart from Thee.’” And that’s true. At the end of the day, our faith in God is all we truly have. This is why we read in II Corinthians 6:10, that we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” Because with a strong faith in God, we can be stripped of everything we have and everyone we love and still feel rich. And without a strong faith in God, we can have everything and everyone and still feel poor and empty. We have no permanent good apart from the Lord. And with the Lord, we are rich despite permanent or temporary loss.
In a time where we are uncertain of how we will move forward as a society, or what the future holds for our health, we can move forward confidently with the Lord, with Him as a security and a surety.
Psalm 16 reads as an affirming statement of faith in God. Read some of these verses over and over again and hold them as mantras, as banners to carry in uncertain times:
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; Thou holdest my lot.” (v. 5) The stock market doesn’t hold it, real estate doesn’t hold it, the news cycle doesn’t dictate it.
“I keep the Lord always before me.” (v. 8) In good times and bad times, on good days and tough ones.
“Because He is my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (v.8) No challenge will separate me from God.
“In Thy presence there is fullness of joy.” (v. 11) Because of the Lord, there is always a place I can find joy.
And because of these things, it is possible for our hearts to be glad, for our souls to rejoice and for our bodies to dwell secure, (v. 9) even in a world that is constantly insecure. Covid-19 did not inaugurate insecurity in the world. Perhaps it punctuated it. But insecurity has been around forever and will still be here when the current challenges have passed. When we hold the Lord and our faith deep within us, we can be filled with joy seemingly at all times. The human side of us will despair at loss. The presence of God in us allows us to see all loss as temporary, and instead to focus on the permanent joy that comes from God. The challenge in a life that is filled with challenges and often with sorrows is to find God’s joy even in sorrow. And this is why we need prayer, Scripture, worship, and encouragement from others, in order to feel filled with God even as life often makes us feel empty.
- Father Stavros, St. John the Baptist, Tampa, FL