It always amazes me the way peace—powerful, unexplainable peace (Philippians 4:7)—can somehow fill our hearts even in our deepest grief. I experienced this most recently at my father’s memorial service. As a long line of sympathetic acquaintances passed by offering their condolences, I was relieved to see a good high school friend. Without a word, he simply wrapped me in a long bear hug. His quiet understanding flooded me with the first feelings of peace within grief that difficult day, a powerful reminder that I wasn’t as alone as I felt.
As David describes in Psalm 16, the kind of peace and joy God brings into our lives isn’t caused by a choice to stoically stomp down the pain during hard times; it’s more like a gift we can’t help but experience when we take refuge in our good God (vv. 1–2).
We could respond to the aching pain that death brings by distracting ourselves, perhaps thinking that turning to these other “gods” will keep the pain at bay. But sooner or later we’ll find that efforts to avoid our pain only bring deeper pain (v. 4).
Or we could turn to God, trusting that even when we don’t understand, the life He’s already given us—even in its pain—is still beautiful and good (vv. 6–8). And we can surrender to His loving arms that tenderly carry us through our pain into a peace and joy that even death can never quench (v. 11).
Father, thank You for the way Your tender touch embraces and holds us in our times of joy and pain. Help us to turn in trust to You for healing.
Psalms are prayers to God from real people about real situations. In Psalm 16, David speaks to God about his hope and security. As if to underline the personal nature and heavenward direction of the psalm, David uses first person pronouns (I, me, my) an astonishing twenty-eight times in these few verses.
The book of Psalms has been contrasted to the rest of Scripture by suggesting that in sixty-five books God talks to us, but in one book we talk to God. To be sure, God also speaks to us through the psalms, but there is a special sense in which they are unique in their communication style.
For more on our eternal home, check out Life to Come: The Hope of the Christian Faith at discoveryseries.org/q1205.