Rev. Jeff Lane
Psalm 16 – Finding Confidence in the Lord
Isaac told me, and I’m a Baptist preacher. Okay. So Isaac told me I have 15 to 20 minutes. So what I’ve decided to do is leave out all the fishing stories and all the rants about sin that have nothing to do with anyone in this room, okay? That’s fine. So we’re going to look together at Psalm 16 this morning. Isaac told me there are four passages I can choose from. I chose not to preach on the abomination of desolation. I’ll let you do that next time. But we’re going to look at Psalm 16 together. And I hope that this will be encouraging for you this morning. Have you ever wondered why are some people so confident? Some people are so confident. I can’t be with Isaac and not think about high school and those days and-
You said you weren’t going to talk about sin.
Right. So thinking back about high school, there were some folks that were so confident, so self-confident. And there were several people that were incredibly good at athletics. Incredibly intelligent. Isaac is much smarter than I am. He was always much smarter than me. He still is smarter than me. There are people who are more attractive than me. And there were the funniest kids in the hall and if that was you, then you got to exist at the elite upper level of our school. The best currency that we dealt in high school was self-confidence. And whoever had the most confidence ruled the school in our awkward pimple-filled culture.
It seemed like if you could be good at something and you could project the most self-confidence, then you had everything you ever would’ve wanted. I don’t know about you, but I never could look inside myself and find that. I always knew that there was somebody more athletic than me. I always knew that there was somebody smarter than me. I always knew that there was somebody more attractive than me. There was another guy that was always funnier and more humorous and more socially savvy than me. And here’s what I’ve learned. The world today will teach you that you need self-confidence. The world today will teach you that you need a healthy self image. The world today will teach you that you need a healthy sense of self worth.
Now some of that’s true. Some of that’s true. We are creatures who have been created in the image of God and because you have been created in the image of God, you are valuable, because you were created by a good creator. We need to understand that so we can understand ourselves clearly and we need to understand that so that we can treat other people with dignity and worth. And furthermore, as a Christian, you are a child of God, you belong to him. You’re an adopted child in Christ. But in our culture, we are taught to look within ourselves to find confidence. And this is just something you and I were not designed to do. We were designed to look somewhere else for our confidence. If you had been at my 10-year high school reunion, you would have seen some of those folks who were so confident 10 years before and they weren’t doing so well.
Self-confidence is a foundation of sin. And you were made to look outside yourself as your ultimate source of lasting confidence. In Psalm 16, David teaches us to do that. He teaches us to look to the source of confidence as we see him do that. He teaches us how to live a life of lasting confidence. So this Psalm was written by David. We don’t know the exact circumstances of this writing. There were many difficult seasons in David’s life. David talks about the Lord delivering him from Sheol, the place of dead. There were many situations where David’s life was threatened. And this is probably one of those situations. But here he makes the Lord his source of confidence and contentment and he teaches us to do the same thing.
So in order to live a life of lasting confidence, here’s the first thing you need to do. You need to make the Lord your refuge. Make the Lord your refuge. So in verse one, David asks the Lord to preserve him. The Hebrew word for preserve in the ESV can also be translated, protect. And he needs preservation because his life is in danger and he needs protection from those who are seeking to take his life. And so he acknowledges the Lord as his refuge. Now notice how he sets aside all other sources of refuge and he acknowledges the Lord as his highest good. We just said this. I have no good apart from you. He has no good apart from the Lord. He understands… Excuse me, he understands every good thing like a sunbeam coming down from the sun and he traces all of those good things back to the sun, to the source of light, to God himself. He acknowledges the Lord as his highest good as his ultimate refuge and his ultimate source of satisfaction.
And so as you walk through your days and you may have faced a trial this week, you may have a trial coming this week. I don’t know what you’ve been through, what you’re going through. Then know that you can make the Lord your refuge. Know that you can make the Lord your source of confidence. There is no good apart from him, but he is the only source of lasting confidence. And he shows himself to be a faithful refuge to everyone who seeks him. David teaches us that. In Psalm 46, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear. Though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though it’s waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling, make the Lord your refuge. Make the Lord your refuge.
Second, make the Lord your counselor and God. Your counselor and God. So David says that the Lord gives him counsel at night and his heart instructs him. So imagine David sleeping on his bed, being restless because of these enemies, these evil people from Saul or whoever, whatever situation he’s in, who want to take his life and he can’t sleep. But as he’s lying on his bed, he’s reminded of the instructions of the Lord. He’s reminded of the goodness of God. He’s reminded of the promises of God. And he does this because he always sets the Lord before him. You see David has learned to look at life through a God-centered lens. There’s nothing in his life without a reference to God and he understands the world that way.
David also says that the Lord is at his right hand. So this is an image that was used in legal terminology. An attorney would stand at the right of the person that they were defending in those days, or it was also used in battle. So your greatest comrade, your greatest ally, I think Jonathan, stood at his right hand in battle. You also kept your sword on the right side of your belt. In other words, David understands that the Lord himself is his right hand man. The Lord stands on his right side. Make the Lord your counsel, make the Lord your God. Draw near to him like a friend.
Don’t walk through this coming week without setting the Lord before you. Now, how do you do this? Well, I can’t give you better instructions than what the Lord gives to Joshua as he was getting ready to go into the promised land. He says this, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. And then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.” So learn to set the Lord always before you. Make the Lord your counselor. Make the Lord your God.
Finally, in order to live a life of lasting confidence, you need to make the Lord your satisfaction and your joy. David says that the Lord is his chosen portion, his cup and his lot and that the lines have fallen to him in pleasant places. Those are all images of inheritance. Now David was a member of the tribe of Judah. So David had a place. A place on earth that God had allotted to him and to his people but it’s interesting for an Israelite to say, other than one of the Levites who didn’t have one of those places, but for an Israelite of the tribe of Judah to say, “Lord, you are my inheritance. You are my cup. You are my portion. You are my place, oh God.”
You see, David ultimately does not find his satisfaction in the things here on earth. He ultimately finds his satisfaction in the Lord himself. He sees the Lord as his ultimate inheritance. He says that the Lord makes known to him the path that he should walk in. In the Lord’s presence is fullness of joy, at the Lord’s right hand are pleasures forevermore. This is a Psalm about confidence, but it’s also a Psalm about contentment. David finds his confidence. David finds his contentment in the Lord himself, in this God who knows him, in this God who he knows.
If the Lord is your satisfaction and joy, then there’s simply a whole lot of things you can do without, can’t you? Make the Lord your source of satisfaction, make the Lord your source of joy. He’s worth it. There’s nothing more beautiful, there’s nothing more precious, there’s no greater treasure than the Lord himself. We see a good example of that in Psalm 16. This Psalm is also about Christ. I wouldn’t have seen this if I had just read it without reading the New Testament, but the New Testament writers actually point this out. So Peter and Paul both point out in the book of Acts in two different speeches, that this is about Christ. So Peter quotes verses 8 through 11 and Paul quotes verse 10. This part about the Lord will not abandon David’s soul to Sheol or let his holy one see corruption. So Sheol was the place of the dead. It was just a general term referring to all dead people in the Old Testament.
God delivered David’s life from death multiple times in his life, but eventually, David did die. So in verse 10, there’s some ambiguity. Okay, who is this one who’s not abandoned to death? Who’s this one who never dies? This holy one who does not see corruption? Well, Paul and Peter look back and rightly see it’s Christ. There’s some tension, some ambiguity here, but it’s fulfilled in Christ himself. So if you’re here this morning and I know a lot of you all are new to Anglicanism, I’m very new to Anglicanism. But some of this might be new to the Christian faith altogether and if that’s you, here’s what we want you to know. We want you to know that Jesus came and he lived a perfect life and he lived a life that you couldn’t live. He lived a life that I couldn’t live. And then he died the death that you and I deserve. And then he rose again from the dead.
Jesus is our resurrection hope. And everyone who has faith in Jesus has this resurrection hope. And I can’t think of a better source of confidence. How confident is someone who’s never going to die? Who has someone who has already gone before them. Who’s already paid for all of their sins. Who’s already taken all of their guilt upon themselves on the cross and who has risen from the dead and who’s going to take you with him on the last day. How much confidence can we have if we have confidence in Christ? Here’s something I read this week. The blessed alternative to self-trust is to be set on a solid foundation that not even death can unsettle. Friend Christ is that foundation and he is your lasting confidence.
You can be a confident Christian. And you can live a life of confidence. Here’s something we need to know. We need to know that the Lord will give us security. And so don’t rest your confidence on lesser sources of security. So I have a friend, he’s a good friend. I love him. I don’t think this is wrong, but he has a shotgun that he keeps under his bed, okay? So that if someone were to break into his house, he’s ready. He’s ready to go. He’s ready to rumble, whatever, ready to take care of the bad guys, right? I know a lot of people that have money in their 401(k)s and they rest their confidence in that. One thing I’ve noticed where I live, we live kind of in North East Knoxville. Anytime they build something in North East Knoxville, it’s either a bank or a storage unit place, right?
Now that tells you something about our culture, doesn’t it? That tells you something about where we place our confidence. Don’t place your hope in misplaced sources of confidence. Only the Lord can preserve your life. Only the Lord can rescue you from death and we can have complete confidence if we’re in his hands and that we are in his hands. This is what Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish and no one, and no one there means no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. If you trust in the Lord, he will give you security today and he will give you security forever.
Also, know that the Lord will satisfy you. There’s a lot of things that will compete for your attention, but only the Lord will satisfy you. And he will satisfy you in a way that other things never could so make him your treasure. Make him your joy. In his presence, there is fullness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. Know that the Lord will satisfy you and finally learn to daily remind yourself. And this is where we get into it, right? It’s easy to be here gathered with God’s people and remember our source of confidence on a beautiful fall day like this, but when you get into it this week, right? When your boss doesn’t treat you so well, or there’s just some unrest in your family, or it’s really hard to get the kids to school in the morning or whatever, fill in the blank, right? It’s really hard for us to remember our source of confidence.
You and I are going to be tempted to look within ourselves for confidence and just bulldoze and run over other people, or we’re going to seek somewhere else for our sense of self-confidence, to one of those lesser sources of confidence. You need to be reminded daily that the Lord is your source of confidence and contentment. You need to learn to preach the Gospel to yourself every day. Now I understand that as Anglicans you all have a great resource to do this called the Daily Office. And I would encourage you to use that. Daily remind yourselves that the Lord is our refuge, that he is at our right hand, that he will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Learn to daily remind yourself that the Lord is your confidence.
So if you and I were out at sea and we were on a ship and we wanted our ship to stay in one place, then we would use this great ancient tool called an anchor. Now, what if you took that anchor and you put it up on the deck of the ship? You’d say, well, I used the anchor. Well, I put the anchor of the ship to itself. But that wouldn’t work out so well, would it?
The ship would drift around, the ship would be blown around, the ship would be tossed by the waves. That anchor was meant to anchor the ship to something else. And so you would drop that anchor down into the deep waters to the bottom of the ocean. That’s how it is meant to be with you and God. You see, you are like a ship. You can’t be anchored to yourself. And if you anchor yourself to the wrong thing, then it won’t leave you on a good foundation either. Anchor yourself to the rock, anchor yourself to the right foundation. Make the Lord your refuge, make the Lord your counselor and your guide. Make the Lord your satisfaction and joy. And then you can live a life of lasting confidence today and forever.