A Michtam of David.

The word “Michtam” comes from the Hebrew word Katam, which means to cut in or engrave.  The reference is to a graven and therefore permanent writing.  In the Septuagint, the word used to translate Michtam is connected with the words engraved on a sepulchral monument, and we can see in the Michtam psalms the idea of death and resurrection.

All the of the Michtam Psalms are written by David, and often have reference to David’s Son and Lord, Jesus Christ.  This psalm begins the third section of the Genesis book of Psalms.

1.  Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

David calls upon God to preserve him.  “Put my trust” indicates that David flees to God for refuge.  The word for “God” here is the singular El rather than the usual plural Elohim, and would be a fitting prayer even for the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, to pray while upon earth.

2.  O my soul, you have said to the LORD,

David recounts what he has said to the LORD.  Because this is in the past tense, it probably indicates a continual attitude that David had towards the LORD rather than a singular event in which he prayed these words.

“You are my LORD,”

This is another occurrence where the Sopherim changed the original Yahweh, the name for God, to Adonai, another name for God that they considered less specific, and which means simply “Master.”  The original Hebrew text read Yahweh, however.

David affirms that Yahweh is his, therefore indicating his own loyalty to the LORD.

My goodness is nothing apart from You”—

This should probably read something like “I have no goodness beyond You.”  I often consider the fact that anything good in me actually comes from or has been generated in me by the LORD, for I know that all that I come up with on my own is corrupt.  This is what David seems to be saying here.

3.  And to the saints who are on the earth,

“The earth” here is actually “the Land,” and David is speaking of the holy or set apart ones who dwelt at that time in the Land of Israel.

“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

David delights in those set apart to God, and surely God delights in them as well.  To be set apart to God is indeed a high honor, and both God and David delighted in such people.

4.  Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;

This sort of person is in stark contrast to those in whom God delights in the previous verse.  They not only follow another god, but hasten after him, as if anxious to get as far away from the true God as possible.

Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,

David pledges never to join them in sacrificing to idols.

Nor take up their names on my lips.

David pledges never to speak the names of these gods in reverent worship as their followers did.  We know that he remained true to this pledge, although his own son Solomon did not.

5.  You, O LORD, are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

The portion inherited by an Israelite was an extremely important thing to him.  To those who lived off the land, the portion of land that was inherited to them was of utmost importance.  David here declares that the LORD is his true inheritance, his true delight, and the One Who truly causes him to prosper.

The cup is often a symbol of blessings, and David here declares that it was the LORD Who truly caused him to be blessed.  We would do well to realize this in our own lives today.

You maintain my lot.

David’s lot was as the king of Israel.  David surely realized that he never would have escaped King Saul or ever received the kingship were it not for the LORD, and now he knows that it is likewise the LORD Who guards and perpetuates his throne.

6.  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

An Israelite could hardly ask for more than that the lines of his inheritance would fall in pleasant places.  Places good for growing grain, places good for raising stock, places good for planting a vineyard…these were places most desirable to be inherited.  No one wanted rocky ground or poor soil.  Now David acknowledges that his lines of inheritance have indeed fallen in pleasant places.  Yet he is not speaking of the inheritance of land he received from his father Jesse, but rather of the inheritance given to him by the LORD.  How blessed he was indeed, and how blessed his future will be, as we read about it in the Word!

We too can take these wonderful words to heart.  The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places as well.  First of all when we heard the Word of God and opened our hearts to the truth and received the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Christ.  Then, as we grow in our knowledge of Him and of His Word, we receive a wonderful inheritance from Him as He opens to us His truth and we learn the blessed teachings of His Word.  What a pleasant place it is to be a sinner saved by grace who can study and learn His Word and draw closer to Him through His Spirit.  Surely our lines have fallen to us in pleasant places as well!

Yes, I have a good inheritance.

David’s inheritance from God was a kingdom.  Our inheritance from God is His Word.  And indeed we can say with David, we have a good inheritance!

7.  I will bless the LORD Who has given me counsel;

David has nothing but words of blessing for the LORD Who has not only given Him a kingdom but also has blessed David with His good counsel in times of need.

My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

David knows that he receives Divine inspiration from the LORD.  Even in the darkest of times, the LORD inspires his thoughts and instructs him what to do.  This is all part of God’s providential maintaining of his kingship.

8.  I have set the LORD always before me;

David has incorporated the LORD into his life in such a way that, whatever situation he is in, he will remember the LORD.  He wants to always be reminded of the LORD in every situation.  This should be our desire as well.

Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

David is confident that, with the LORD to help him, nothing will ever be able to remove him from his position in God’s government of Israel.

9.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;

David uses the heart poetically for his whole being.  This is similar to the way “my soul” is often used for “myself.”  He also uses the glory for the mind and all its powers that cause the glory.  This line is a poetical emphasis of David’s great rejoicing in His God.

My flesh also will rest in hope.

David speaks of his own future death, declaring that, though he will die, his flesh will rest in the hope of resurrection and all the wonderful things God has promised that he will receive afterwards.  What a blessed thing to know that, even in death, one has a wonderful future ahead!  Thank God that we too can know that though we may rest in the earth in death, yet our rest will be in hope.

10.  For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,

Sheol is a Hebrew word that is usually translated either “the grave,” “hell,” or “the pit.”  It is a word that means the state of death.  We don’t have such a word in English.  We do have some words for states, such as “solitude” for the state of being alone or “plentitude” for the state of having plenty.  Otis Sellers suggested that a good way to express this word would be “thanitude,” from the Greek word thanatos, which means “death.”  David is declaring here that the LORD will not leave his soul in the state of death.  This was true of David, and is true of us as well, for we know that God will raise all of us from the dead.  However, this is specifically true of David’s Son and Lord, Jesus Christ, as we will learn in the next line.

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Corruption is a natural thing for any dead body.  We know that once we die, our bodies very quickly rot and decay.  In our day we can slow down the process by draining the blood and so forth, but we know that even then a body should not be kept too long before burial or decay will make it most unpleasant.  Yet David declares here that God’s Holy One will not see corruption.  David could not possibly have been talking about himself, for he has been dead for around three thousand years now, and his body certainly corrupted and decayed long ago.  No, David was here speaking not of himself but of his most glorious descendant, Jesus Christ.

We know that our Lord was three days and three nights in the grave.  In the arid climate of Israel this would normally have been plenty of time for a body to corrupt and decay…remember Martha’s concern that Lazarus would stink on the fourth day after his burial in John 11?  Yet this verse tells us that the Lord did not see corruption in the grave.  This is because He was sinless, and His body was devoid of the poison of the forbidden fruit that has caused the law of sin and death to overtake every other man who has ever lived since Adam.  Thus, there was nothing to cause His body to decay.  Without the law of sin and death working in Him, the bacteria and what we think of as the natural breaking-down process that happens to a body did not effect Him.  After three days and nights in the grave His body was still in the same condition as when He was buried.  No corruption and no decay took place.  The LORD would not allow such a thing to happen to His Holy One!

11.  You will show me the path of life;

And what a wonderful path that is!  How glorious for those who have lain long in the grave to suddenly waken for the first time in thousands of years and see the path of life before them.

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

David knows that he will awaken not only to life, but to life in the presence of the LORD as well.  What a wonderful future for us all!

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

The LORD is the Creator of pleasure, and we can be certain that His pleasures will be greater than anything this sinful life can offer.  Oh, for the day when we will enjoy such pleasures at the right hand of our Savior!

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