4/4/21 – Easter – “You Will Not Abandon My Soul” – Psalm 16:8-11

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our text for this morning is from Psalm 16—a biblical text that from the earliest of times has been associated with the resurrection of our Lord. If you read the story in Acts 2 of that first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles, you’ll find that Peter stood up to preach. As a part of his sermon, he said: Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, (Acts 2:22-25a). And then Peter goes on to quote Psalm 16:8-11:

8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
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.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

On this Easter Sunday, we’re going to focus on these four verses from Psalm 16. As we do, I want to do two things: show you how these verses apply to Jesus and show you how these verses also apply to you.

2. So first, how and why do these verses apply to Jesus? To answer that question, let’s return to Peter’s Pentecost sermon, where he explains this connection a bit further. He continues immediately after his Psalm 16 quotation: Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses (Acts 2:29-32). Notice the first thing that Peter does before discussing how this passage applies to Jesus. He acknowledges a basic fact of human life—one that we often ignore and would rather not think about. He acknowledges the reality of death. David—the man who penned Psalm 16—died. And, in fact, he’s still dead to this day. He does have many things written about him and much of his life has been preserved for us in the Bible…but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s dead. And that’s a reality that we will all have to face one day, unless Jesus returns before that day comes. Maybe you’ve faced the reality of death recently. Maybe you’ve faced the reality of death when a loved one died and you still haven’t gotten over it. Or maybe you have been fortunate enough to not have to face the reality of death yet in your life. But no matter who you are or what stage of life you find yourself in death comes for us all. And that reality is what makes Peter’s next point so powerful. Peter tells us that these words of Psalm 16 are about Jesus. Even when it looked like the Lord had abandoned his son on the cross, Jesus knew that his Father was never far from him, and so he was not shaken even when the worst of human evil came upon him. And even in the midst of his suffering and death on the cross, our Lord’s flesh dwelt secure because he had confidence that his Father would not abandon his soul to the grave. And God the Father held true to this when he raised our Lord Jesus from the dead on the third day. By his resurrection Jesus overcame the power of death. This is how Psalm 16 applies to Jesus.

3. But as I said, the verses of this Psalm also apply to you because of Jesus. Because Jesus is risen from the dead he offers you new life in his presence. But more than that Jesus offers you fullness of joy in his eternal presence. Those of us who have been baptized into Christ and who experience the joyful forgiveness he proclaims to us can know this for certain. Because Jesus is risen from the dead so shall we be raised from the dead to live eternally in his presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. I can hardly think of a more freeing, joy-filled future to look forward to. I know that this last year has been incredibly difficult for so many of you. I almost can’t believe that we’ve lived for over a year now with the pressures, the stresses, and the isolation that the pandemic has brought. I imagine that some days you’ve woken up exhausted and drained mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Maybe some days you’ve woken up hoping that the nightmare was over. Maybe some days you’ve woken up simply searching for the motivation to get out of bed. Life is hard, there’s no denying that. But even when your life gets so hard that it almost seems hopeless, there is always hope. Jesus is risen from the dead. And because he is risen, Jesus offers you fullness of joy in his eternal presence. So no matter how hard life might be on this side of eternity, we always have hope—something to live for, something to look forward to. Jesus is risen, and so we joyfully look forward to eternal life with him as we pray with the Psalmist:

8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
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.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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