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Day 35

You Will Not Abandon Me
Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 16
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
   I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
   I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
   in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
   their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
   or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
   you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
   in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
   because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
   my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
   or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
   in your presence there is fullness of joy;
   at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
What Is This Psalm About?   
During Easter week, we focus on psalms of deliverance. When we have close calls, or get rescued from dire straits, thanksgiving overflows our otherwise dull hearts. We want to tell the story and give credit to the LORD who intervened when we were in serious trouble. In Psalm 16, David steps back from gratefulness for an individual incident to give thanks for the overall pattern of God’s continuing faithfulness to him. So great is the LORD’s steadfast love that David, for all his wars, failures and trials, can understand his life as a good one. He knows the secret to fulfillment in every circumstance: awareness of the presence of God. The LORD’s continual deliverance in this life points David to hope that he will not cease to exist when his body dies. Though understanding of the afterlife was very rudimentary in his day, David trusts that Sheol is not his final fate. He can be at peace. 
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
Luke tells us that after his resurrection, Jesus opens the Scriptures for his disciples in such a way that they can see how he is the key that unlocks God’s Word. This specifically includes Jesus’ explanation of things “written about me . . . in the psalms” (Luke 24:44). He is getting the apostles ready for their mission of telling his story to the world.
Forty days after rising, Jesus returns to heaven in his resurrection body (Acts 1:9). Ten days later, as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples in great power. A crowd rushes to the place where they hear a mighty wind. Hearing the disciples speaking praises in all the languages of the nations, the people wonder what this could mean. So Peter gives the first public message after Easter. He tells the story of Jesus, and the linchpin of his sermon is Psalm 16! Let’s listen in:
[T]his Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him. . . . (Acts 2:23-25)
Peter knows that David wrote and prayed Psalm 16 to describe the LORD’s faithfulness in his own life. He also knows that David wrote beyond himself, not in the sense of some mechanical prophecy, but in the realization that the patterns he saw ran higher and further than a mere man could experience. He knows that although the LORD has saved him from many scrapes with death, one day he certainly will die and his body will decay. 
Yet beyond the expectations of people in those days, David saw hope for life to come. This victory over the grave would have to be accomplished by David’s distant heir. So the voice speaking in the psalm more deeply than David belongs to Jesus (Reardon 30). As Ross puts it, “The language of Psalm 16 was excessive for the author’s understanding but became literally true for Jesus Christ” (1: 411). The Father did not leave Jesus’ soul in Sheol while his body rotted in the cave. He raised him. With this in mind, we can imagine Jesus praying Psalm 16 as he looks back with his Father on what has happened over the three years of his ministry on earth: 
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup. Father, I chose you when the cup before me tasted deadly. That bitterness was my destiny. I drank our wrath against sin, drained the foaming cup. You turned into the overflowing cup of goodness
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Indeed, I have a beautiful heritage. It seemed that my territory was going to be only darkness. Sheol has no landmarks! No sweet habitations! I thought the reward for my life was going to be utter futility. But you shone into my midnight. You flooded black death with shimmering light. Now wherever this news goes, you make the desert bloom. You make death lead to more life than people have ever imagined. I would not wish my journey on anyone. Yet I can truly say what I received from your hand, all of it taken together, is glorious. 
O Father, in the trackless wasteland you made known to me the path of life. Sweeter now even than it had been in all eternity is our fellowship. In your presence, there is fullness of joy. Now, with you in the Spirit, I crave only the pleasure of seeing all these little ones grafted into our eternal fellowship.
Praying with Jesus
Oh Jesus, I see now how often
I wandered far down roads away from you,
Looking for life in dead places.
I scampered as a child who is heedless
Of the perils down the path, unaware
Of parents’ watchful care.
I know now that you, you alone
Are my Lord, my Savior, my God.
I have no good apart from you.
With you, I am, even in suffering
One to whom all good has come.
So today I thank you for taking the worst roads,
The hardest path, the darkest way,
So that I do not.
I rejoice with you that you were not abandoned
In Sheol, nor consigned to decay and corruption.
The shame you endured became joy.
Now at the Father’s right hand,
You have the pleasure of redemption
Which you so freely share.
May I receive and multiply your joy
As I share with hands and words
Your redeeming journey.


Posted in: Lent