The Psalmist’s Future Hope (vv. 9–11)
The first part of the psalm has been a strong statement of the psalmist’s commitment of his entire life to God and the difference this has made for him. But nothing said thus far is as remarkable as what follows. Having spoken of the present blessings that result from his relationship to God, the writer now turns to the future and expresses his confidence in what God will do for him in death and even beyond death. This is where the verse that prophesies the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ comes in.
Did David consciously prophesy the Lord’s resurrection? He may have, but it is not necessary to think so. To be sure, Peter termed him a prophet in Acts 2. But later in his first letter, Peter wrote that the prophets “searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10–11). This means that David did not necessarily understand that he was writing of Jesus’ resurrection when he composed verse 10.
Yet if he was not writing of Christ, the verse is in some ways even more remarkable. In that case, David was writing of his own hope, expecting that God would not abandon him to the grave and would preserve him. He did not have the resurrection of Jesus before him as a sample of what he had in mind or proof of what God can and will do, as we who live on this side of the resurrection do.
How did David get to this point? There is only one answer. It was by the logic of faith. He reasoned that if God had blessed him and kept him in this life, then God, who does not change, would undoubtedly keep him and bless him in the life to come.
One commentator has written, “The boldness of it all almost leaves the reader breathless. How can a man see all men dying and note that all the children of men before him have died without exception and still say: God cannot let that happen to me! It appears like sheer being carried away into rhapsody of bold assertions. But still, in the last analysis, must not faith draw the conclusion that, if you hold to God, God will take care of you perfectly.”
Faith is the Victory
I have said that David achieved this great pinnacle of trusting God in death through the logic of faith. But the victory itself was achieved by Jesus about whom David perhaps only unintentionally prophesied. It was Jesus’ victory that won salvation for us all.
Reuben A. Torrey, a Bible teacher of an earlier generation, tells the story of four men who were climbing the most difficult face of the Matterhorn. A guide, a tourist, a second guide, and a second tourist were all roped together. As they went over a particularly difficult place, the second tourist lost his footing and went over the side. The sudden pull of the rope carried the second guide with him, and he carried the other tourist along also. Three men were now dangling over the cliff. But the guide who was in the lead, feeling the first pull upon the rope, drove his ax into the ice, braced himself, and held fast. The first tourist then regained his footing, the guide regained his, and the second tourist followed. They went on in safety.
So it is in this life. As the human race ascended the lofty cliffs of life, the first Adam lost his footing and tumbled headlong over the abyss. He pulled the next man after him, and the next, and the next, until the whole human race hung in deadly peril. But the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, kept his footing. He stood fast. Thus all who are united to him by a living faith are secure and can regain the path.
James Montgomery Boise – Psalms, Volume 1: An Expositional Commentary
11 The psalmist develops further the nature of life with God (see W. A. M. Beuken, “Psalm 16: The Path to Life,” Bijdr 41 : 368–85). Its origin is with God: “you will make known” (NIV text note). Its goal is the presence of God, even to be at “your right hand.” Its effect is “joy” and “eternal pleasures.” Life may be experienced here, as the psalmist is fully aware of his blessings (vv. 5–8). “The path of life” signifies the way that leads to life. It is a wisdom term for the fullness of life that only the wise could achieve (Pr 5:6; 6:23; 10:17; 15:24). God’s blessing attends the life lived in the presence of God. The psalmist conceives of life in fellowship with God both in this world and beyond (cf. Weiser, 178).
Beyond the present experiences and joy in God’s “presence” lies the hope of a lasting joy in fellowship with God. Dahood, 1:91, takes the phrase as a reference solely to “life eternal.” Briggs, 1:122, views it as a reference to life everlasting, but not including the resurrection of the body: “Such a hope he could not express for this life; he is thinking of everlasting life in the presence of Yahweh and on His right hand, after he has departed this life and gone to Sheol.” Craigie, 158, excludes any reference to the afterlife and limits the meaning to “the fullness of life here and now.” But I agree with J. Ridderbos, 1:132, who comments, “This verse speaks also in comprehensive expressions …; viewed in the light of the NT it contains a clear prediction of the eternal joy of life, received in Christ through his resurrection and further of the eternal bliss of all who are in Christ.”
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary