April 17, 2017: Verse of the day

      9       Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
      my flesh also dwells secure.
            10       For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
      or let your holy one see corruption.

9–10 The ground for the psalmist’s joy is twofold. First, his God is the sovereign Master to whom he has fled for protection (vv. 1–2). Second, the Lord has been good to him (vv. 2b, 5–8). He has not been disappointed in having sought him as the ground of his being. His conclusion to this psalm of confidence begins with “therefore” (v. 9); but this “therefore” introduces additional, though related, reasons for his confidence. The psalmist is filled with joy in his Lord, who cares for him in life and in death. In life the Lord gives him security (vv. 5–6) and in death, protection (vv. 9b–10). He may die and go into “the grave,” but the Lord will not permit his beloved (“Holy One”) to suffer eternal alienation. The phrase “see decay” (v. 10) is a metaphor for total isolation and banishment from God’s presence. It is not clear whether the psalmist had in mind the experience of God’s presence in the life hereafter or specifically in the resurrection of the body. But in the apostolic preaching this verse did have a particular apologetic significance, as both Peter (Ac 2:27, 31) and Paul (Ac 13:35) quoted v. 10 as proof of the resurrection of Jesus (see Reflections, p. 663, Sheol—Grave—Death in the Psalms).

The primary significance of the text lies in the confidence of the psalmist that his relationship with God will not end with death. David, to whom the psalm is attributed, died; but we are confident that in his death he, too, enjoyed the presence of God in some special sense. For Peter and Paul, the text spoke of the resurrection. They appropriately argued that since David died and did not rise from the grave, the psalm received a special significance in view of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus, as the Son of David, arose from the dead, “because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Ac 2:24). In the progressive unfolding of God’s revelation, Peter saw a prophetic/messianic sense in the psalm (v. 31). The resurrection of our Lord gives a ground for the confidence of all believers, since they, too, will not suffer corruption. The Father will crown his beloved with life. God is concerned with the whole being, and therefore the body is included in the renewal of life. Calvin, 1:230, observes: “Yet as God defends and maintains not only our souls, but also our bodies, David does not speak groundlessly when he represents the blessing of dwelling in safety as extending to his flesh in common with his soul.”[1]

16:9, 10 Assured of God’s constant care and protection, the Savior faces the future with confidence. His heart is glad. His soul rejoices and His body is safe. He knows that God will not leave His soul in Sheol or allow His body to see corruption. In other words, Christ will be raised from the dead.

The reference to Sheol needs a word of explanation. It is the word used in the OT for the grave, for the “netherworld,” and to describe the disembodied state. It is equivalent to the NT Greek word “Hades.” Sheol did not so much indicate a geographical location as the condition of the dead—the separation of the personality from the body. It was used to describe the condition of everyone who died, whether believer or unbeliever. On the other hand the NT equivalent, Hades, is used only of unbelievers. Sheol was a very indefinite, imprecise word. It did not convey a clear picture of life after death. In fact, it expressed more of uncertainty than of knowledge.

In the NT, all that is changed. Christ has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). Today we know that when an unbeliever dies, his spirit and soul are in a state of suffering called Hades (Luke 16:23), while his body goes to the grave. The spirit and soul of the believer go to be with Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), while his earthly body goes to the grave.

When the Savior said “… You will not leave my soul in Sheol,” He revealed His foreknowledge that God would not allow Him to remain in the disembodied state. Though He entered Sheol, He did not remain there.

God did not allow the usual process of decomposition to take place. By a miracle of preservation, Christ’s lifeless body was kept from corruption for three days and nights.[2]

16:10 These words expressed the confidence of the lesser David, but were applied messianically to the resurrection of the Greater David (the Lord Jesus Christ) both by Peter (Ac 2:25–28) and Paul (Ac 13:35).[3]

16:10 Sheol. See note on 6:5. Here it is likely the abode of the wicked. Likewise, corruption probably describes the experience of being far from God forever. These are not likely terms for the grave, since everyone singing these words would know that his body would one day die and rot.[4]

16:10 In Acts, both Peter and Paul apply this passage to Jesus as a prophecy of His resurrection (Acts 2:24–36; 13:34–39).

Sheol The Hebrew word she’ol is used here. See note on 1 Kgs 2:6.[5]

16:10 you will not abandon my soul to Sheol. The immediate application of this psalm is to David and the OT saints. It refers to deliverance from the immediate threat of death, but it points prophetically to the Son of David whom the historical David reflected and anticipated. Both Peter and Paul recognized Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of this psalm (Acts 2:25–28; 13:35).[6]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 191–192). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 567–568). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 16:10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 956). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 16:10). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 845). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.


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