Lectionary Year A
April 7, 2002
Psalm 16

Step IV: Context

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) When Peter preached on the first Christian Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, he recited Psalm 16:8-11 in verses 25-31, explaining that God promised David he would put one of his descendants on the Throne, whom Peter said is Jesus, the Risen Savior. And, in Acts 13, Paul preaches in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, where in verse 35 he recites Psalm 16:10 which, he indicated, illustrates, after Jesus' resurrection, the deceased life in the after-life forever. These points, especially of Jesus' Messiahship and believers' eternal rest instead of the afore believed corruption of the dead, meant a great deal to the earliest Christians as they do to us latter day Christians. The glory in verse 9 of our text at hand might be what the Apostle Paul refers to in Romans 8:30, where he says "those whom God predestines He also called; and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified." Glorification comes from God. In Matthew's Gospel (7:14) we read of Jesus' preaching that the way of the path of life (mentioned in Psalm 16:11) goes through a narrow gate and along a hard road, which, nevertheless, our Savior counsels people to take. I Thessalonians 5:23 seems to approach the blessings our text's final verse anticipates, if in an anticipatory fashion even though Paul wrote this epistle after Jesus' resurrection.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Psalms 5, 7 and 9 are other "Songs of Trust", as the NRSV footnotes at Psalm 11. In Genesis 28:20, Jacob makes a vow that if God will stay with him and keep him (rm;v') in the way promised and provide for him, he will let the Lord be his God. And, Psalm 91:11 says that God will command angels to watch/guard (rm;v') people who learn wisdom from on high. This divine watch-care is important to the people in the ancient Near East, as the first verse of our text this week expects of God. Then, verse eleven's "path of life" image (~yYIx; xr;ao) is also found in Proverbs 2:19, where marital infidelity leads away from the paths of life never to be returned to it; and in Proverbs 5:6, the lips of a strange/loose woman lead away from those desirable paths, too; and, Proverbs 10:17 identifies those who do heed instruction do get thereby on the path of life; and, finally, in Proverbs 15:24, we get the positive idea that the wise/prudent do follow the paths of life that lead upward and avoid Sheol. Of course, the concept of one's being in God's presence is valued throughout Scripture both Old and New Testaments.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) These philosophers would appreciate a God who protects/keeps/guards, etc., any prayer for such blessings. They might applaud those in our text's third verse, named, "the holy ones in the land", who are noble and in whom the Psalmist delights. Such nomenclature might designate the just and ethical and moral leaders in their communities.

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