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Bible: What Does Psalms 16-18 Teach Us About Resurrection, Personal Righteousness, and Salvation?

Updated on August 21, 2016

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Psalms 16-18: What the Bible Says About Resurrection, Personal Righteousness, and Salvation


Because he trusts in God, David expects His protection (v. 1).

He depends totally upon the LORD to keep him morally pure (v. 2; cf. John 15:5); he also delights in true believers (v. 3), and rejects the heterodoxy (“hasten after another god”) and heteropraxy (“drink offerings of blood”) of apostates (v. 4).

Addressing the LORD directly, the psalmist professes Him as his inheritance and then rejoices in Him as such (vv. 5-6).

God's counsel causes the speaker to praise Him (v. 7); he feels secure in the LORD's presence (v. 8).

Knowing these truths brings him (“heart,” “glory,” “flesh”) great joy (v. 9).

The Apostle Peter attributes the saying in verses eight through eleven of this psalm to the prophet David who "spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ. . . ." (v. 10; cf. Acts 2:25-28).

[Does David refer at all to his own resurrection (not abandon me to the grave, NIV), or does the parallelism point only to Jesus]?

David rests, assured of life, fullness of joy, and pleasures forever in God's presence (v. 11).

[Christ's resurrection constitutes the basis for all of the believer's future hope; without it, only despair remains].



Praise for Salvation

Now addressing God—note the pronoun change also in vv. 35-36, 39-40, 43—, David rehearses how truly and righteously the LORD relates to people of various characters (vv. 25-27).

He credits the LORD for any success he has had spiritually (vv. 28-29, 35-36) and militarily (vv. 29, 31-34), as he has trusted Him and His word (v. 30).

His victories over enemies (vv. 37-42, 48) and preeminence over the Gentiles (vv. 43-45, 47) the king correctly attributes to God's favor.

[Note the pronoun mixture in verse 48]. David vows to exalt (v. 46) and give thanks to God for His salvation and mercy (vv. 49-50).

[Knowing God's salvation experientially will cause your heart to overflow with praise and thanksgiving].

David and Jonathan


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Psalm 17

David: Personal Righteousness

While seeking divine vindication (v. 2), David professes his own righteousness in several ways:

(1) His is a just cause;

(2) His prayer is not deceitful (v. 1);

(3) Though tested, he has nothing evil dwelling in his heart;

(4) He has not transgressed (v. 3); and

(5) He has kept himself from the destroyer's way by obeying God’s word (v. 4).

His righteous behavior notwithstanding, David acknowledges his need for the LORD's upholding power to deliver him (v. 5); he waits upon His marvelous chesed (vv. 6-7).

Protection From Enemies

Protection from enemies remains his primary concern (vv. 8-9).

The psalmist describes these wicked ones as spiritually hardened and full of pride in their speech (v. 10), lying in wait like lions ready to capture and throttle him (v. 11).

He calls upon the LORD to save him from such worldly men (vv. 13-14a).

[NIV and NKJV interpretations of v. 14b differ.

The former believes the blessings of food and prosperity belong to those whom God cherishes, while the latter understands the treasure as the worldlings' portion.

NKJV fits better here, since David draws a contrast between the two groups in verse 15].

The wicked aim to enjoy good things now, because that is all they believe exists.

The righteous, however, look forward to beholding God's face one day.

[David looks at life from an eternal perspective: a difficult, but needful, discipline].



Psalm 18

Yahweh: Powerful Savior

A lengthy superscription recounts a time the LORD delivered David from Saul, causing the former to express his love for God.

Several military metaphors follow (shield, fortress, horn, stronghold), showing how God protected and supported David, the one who both trusted and loved Him (vv. 1-2).

When harassed in the future, David vows to seek his trustworthy LORD for help and salvation (v. 3).

He recalls a particular encounter with “death”—probably ungodly enemies (“Belial”)—(vv. 4-5), describing in anthropomorphic terms how God heard his plea for help (v. 6), and moved heaven and earth to save him from them (vv. 7-19).

David depicts the LORD as a powerful God (“devouring fire”), full of wrath, [vv. 7-8; cf. Heb. 12:29], whom a flying cherub transported to earth so that He might judge His enemies (vv. 9-10).

[The synonymous parallel structure indicates the identification of the cherub with “the wings of the wind”; the scene, therefore, figuratively portrays God’s rapid “movement” from heaven to earth.

“Darkness,” a prevalent image here, symbolizes the environment through which devastating judgment (“hailstones and coals of fire”) passed (vv. 9, 11-12)].

He seems to identify thunder with God’s voice of judgment (v. 13), and lightnings with the arrows He used to scatter and vanquish His enemy (v. 14).

The LORD’s angry rebuke causes a literal earth-shattering event (v. 15).

David acknowledges that God graciously delivered him from powerful enemies because He took great pleasure in him (vv. 16-19).

He believes Yahweh rescued him as a reward for his righteous life (vv. 20, 24).

[Note the example of encasing here, except for the addition and the verbal switch in the latter verse: “in His sight” and “recompensed” for “rewarded”].

The king asserts his faithfulness to God’s dictates, and his success in not succumbing to his own evil inclinations (vv. 21-23).

[Personal righteousness consists of both positive and negative elements: performance of good deeds (obedience to God’s word) and avoidance of wrong actions].

© 2013 glynch1


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