Sermon: Psalm 16 (Marriage solemnization)
Dear bride and groom, dear family here in the church, and all of you across the oceans who follow this wedding day online, dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, let us listen now to the joyful and profound message coming to us from this Psalm.
Theme: The LORD is my inheritance forever
- The path of the idols
- The path of life
- The path of the idols
David is the poet of this psalm, and in order to understand this poem well, it is important to dwell for a moment on the historical context.
This poem is about specific circumstances.
And perhaps most important to mention is that David lived only shortly after the days of the judges in Israel.
David was born in the time of transition.
He himself was still anointed by the judge Samuel.
God's people had just started to recover from the deep decay during those times.
As a matter of fact, there were still remnants of those dark ages.
There were still many pagan Canaanites in the promised land.
And even many of God's people continued to sacrifice to the idols.
So at the one hand, deformation was still ongoing.
At the other hand though, there was a new fresh river of reformation, which began to flow amongst God's people.
Is this not the case in our times as well, brothers and sisters?
At the one hand there is the swamp of worldliness and apostacy, where the water has come to a stand still and has started to stink.
But at the other the fresh water of the river, allbeit small, continues to flow.
In this Psalm we find a bold resolution:
David and his house are finished with the idols!
Yahweh is my only LORD!
There is no good apart from him! (verse 2)
In this regard we shouldn’t underestimate the attraction of the idols.
Serving the idols, like Baal, was the contagious spirit of the age.
But in this Psalm David chooses:
I will find my refuge in the LORD.
I will obey him, who has said: You shall have no other gods before me (Ex 20:3).
Remember, in Davids’s days the country was still full of idolatry.
All over the place there were Gentiles as well as Israelites serving Baal, expecting rain from him.
As we can read in 1 Kings 3:
“The people were sacrificing at the high places ... because no house had yet been built for the name of the LORD.” (verse 2)
These high places continued to lure God’s people into idolatry.
In Psalm 16, however, David takes a firm stance.
His delight is in the saints of the land (verse 3).
Saints are not sinless people, but those who take refuge in the LORD.
As we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism: the communion of saints (Lord’s Day 21).
Yes, God's friends are also David's friends.
Calvin writes about this verse: There is no sacrifice more pleasing to God than when we sincerely and wholeheartedly join here on earth with the group of the righteous, with those who serve the Lord.
Those who dedicate their lives to Him and not to the idols, not to a worldly lifestyle.
David associates with them, the humble, those among the people who fear the LORD.
Never mind what others are doing ...
David will not even take the name of the idols on his lips! (verse 4)
Indeed, nowhere in the Psalm does he mention an idol.
He does not pollute his beautiful song with their names.
In this he obeys God’s command, Exodus 23: “And you shall not mention the name of other gods; it may not be heard from your mouth. ” (verse 13)
We can learn something from this, brothers and sisters.
There is a time to call what is evil by name.
But there is also a time not to break your head on everything that goes wrong in this world.
There is also a time, like today, to focus on what is positive, to enjoy what is good.
And that is exactly what David is doing in this Psalm.
Today he does not allow his mood to be affected by those who are disobedient.
Today, filled with joy and gratitude, he focuses on the LORD.
The path of the idols leads to many sorrows.
It leads to death.
Yet David has chosen the path of life.
Thanks be to God, there is another path on earth, verse 11, the path of life.
Dear bride and groom, everywhere you go, you will also come across the path of the idols.
But do not envy the glitter and glamour of this path.
Rather, choose to join those who fear the LORD, wherever you are.
Rather associate with the humble who take refuge in Him.
In his right hand are pleasures, real and true and lasting pleasures, abounding.
In his presence is fulness of joy.
Staying in his presence will also secure fulness of joy in your marriage, and protect your marriage from the path of the modern idols.
And living in his presence will make the pleasures of married life to last.
This brings us to the second point of the sermon:
(The LORD is my inheritance forever
- The path of the idols)
The path of life
In this psalm David uses beautiful metaphors.
For example we read in verse 5:
“The LORD is my chosen portion”.
Portion can also be translated as: inheritance, as for example the King James’ version did.
So David says: The LORD is my inheritance.
Now David is alluding here to the fact that every tribe received an inheritance from the LORD.
Every tribe except the tribe of Levi.
Regarding the tribe of Levi, Scripture says, "Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The LORD is his inheritance.” - Deuteronomy 10:9.
David himself was from the tribe of Judah.
Judah has also received its own inheritance in the promised land.
But that is not what David is referring to in this Psalm.
In fact, in this psalm he is siding with the Levites when he says: The LORD is my inheritance.
I have a beautiful inheritance – verse 5.
To have the LORD as yourinheritance is so much richer than having land and possessions on earth.
Bride and groom, brothers and sisters, may this be true also for you and me.
We live in a country where ownership of land, of the soil, has become an idol.
Both black and white people regard the soil as their inheritance, something they are prepared to fight for.
And not to forget all other possessions – houses, cars, boats, clothes, jewelry, you name it.
Does the cup of your life overflow because you know the LORD and you serve him, even though you do not possess lands and other riches the world is craving for?
To live close to the LORD is a fulfilled life.
David writes, verse 7: the LORD gives me counsel, day and night.
This in contrast with the idols.
Idols cannot give counsel.
The bling of the idols won’t save you at the gates of death.
Yet David finds rest in the living God and his Word.
This God can answer, can give counsel, even at the gates of death.
This is the climax with which the Psalm ends, verse 11.
Psalm 16 is a brilliant Old Testament testimony of the resurrection from the grave.
The LORD is not God of the dead, but of the living (Matt. 22: 23-33).
Abraham, when he had to sacrifice Isaac, considered that God was able to raise him even from the dead (Hebrews 11:18).
This Psalm of David is the Old Testament version of 1 Corinthians 15.
If we, when believing in Christ, have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But no, “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” (verse 10)
Instead, verse 11: “You make known to me the path of life”.
Path of life is the opposite here of the path that leads to the realm of the dead.
The LORD puts me on the path that leads to eternal life.
He leads me with his right hand.
Pleasures are in your right hand, forevermore.
This conclusion of Psalm 16 is echoed by Paul's words in Romans 8: “For I am sure that neither death nor life ... nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (vers 38-39).
David refers to himself using different words: my heart, my flesh, my soul ...
Clearly nothing of him, body nor soul nor whatever of him will be given up to death and perdition.
With body and soul, in every respect the LORD puts him on the path of life!
So the hope of eternal life is revealed clearly in this psalm.
The Holy Spirit laid these words into David's mouth.
This Psalm was sung during the temple liturgy, during the Old Testament worship.
And when Christ came, this Psalm was still well known.
And the apostles, both Peter and Paul, testify how this Psalm was fulfilled in Christ.
In his sermon on Pentecost, Peter refered to this psalm (Acts 2: 22-32).
The patriarch David died and was buried, his tomb is with us to this day.
But, says Peter, David was a prophet, and God foretold through him that the soul of his descendant, Christ, was not left in the realm of the dead and his flesh did not see destruction.
For Christ, whom you crucified, has been raised again!
David could die in peace, knowing that his soul would not be handed over to hell, but would be safe with his God.
But, as the apostle Peter mentions, David's tomb, his mortal remains, is still with them.
But in the case of Christ, the prophecy of Psalm 16 became true for the first time:
With the resurrection of the second David, Christ, both body and soul inherited eternal life.
The apostle Paul preached the same message from this Psalm in the synagogue of Antioch, Pisidia (Acts 13:35-37).
From the Old Testament he proves to the Jews that it had already been prophesied that Christ would rise from the dead.
"You will not let your Holy One to see corruption. For David ... fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
Clearly the early church sang Psalm 16, realizing how it was fulfilled in Christ.
And today, we still sing this same Psalm, knowing that it is perfectly fulfilled in Christ.
And, as Paul writes, because Christ is the firstfruits who rose from the dead, we who belong to Him, will also follow.
Bride and groom, brothers and sisters:
Is the LORD your heritage?
Can you also say: the idols of this world are meaningless to me?
I am not interested in the path of idols ...?
Is the LORD the most important inheritance?
How do you read verse 6: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (verse 6)
People like to use these words when they refer, for example, to their family farm, which they inherited and to which they are so attached.
Or perhaps people think of the favorable circumstances in which the LORD has placed them: perhaps they are rich, perhpas they have a good job, perhaps they have children and grandchildren ...
Is this what David meant when he said: I have a beautiful inheritance ...?
Brothers and sisters, hopefully it is clear by now what David meant.
There is an expression in Afrikaans called my hart se punt.
I think it cannot be translated.
It refers to something that is closest to your heart.
People use this expression when referring to their spouse, or their children or grandchildren, to their holiday home, their farm, etcetera.
This psalm however reveals what that my hart se punt is for a believer.
It is the LORD who is closest to my heart.
This psalm directs your heart to the LORD!
He is your heritage!
Indeed, therefore you have a beautiful inheritance!
Because, as your wedding text says, in his presence there is joy!
All earthly joys can be taken away from you.
In the old marriage vows there were the words: “until death do us part”.
Nowadays it is stated a bit more positive: “for as long as you both shall live”.
Nevertheless, the meaning is the same.
Marriage is temporally, and so is everthing on earth close to your heart.
Yet the LORD is your inheritance forever.
In his right hand there are pleasures for you to enjoy forevermore.
Dear bride and groom, you are to enjoy the pleasures from his right hand.
Married life being one of them.
Even more: the joy of having a faithful spouse.
What a precious gift coming from his right hand!
Indeed, it was the wish of both of you that your marriage be solemnized in the LORD!
This is a treasure most marriages on earth lack.
But you receive the steadfast promise today, that as long as the LORD remains closest to the heart of both of you, that you will remain wedded “until death do us part” or, until Christ returns.
When Christ is closest to your heart, when he is your inheritance, then in God’s right hand you will also find the treasure of a happy marriage.
Live for yourself only, and you will not experience a happy marriage.
Live for your marriage only, and neither will you.
Live for Christ, and a happy marriage will come along.
You will live happily ever after, notwithstanding sickness or health, poverty or riches.
I started the sermon by mentioning that your wedding story makes every fairy tale look pale.
But what is even more true is that a Godly marriage makes every fairytale look pale!
In Christ we receive a joy not even found in fairytales.
Scooping up pleasures from God’s right hand, day after day, will indeed make you live happily ever after!
Marriage Solemnization Ceremony
Scripture Reading: Psalm 16
Sb 24:1,7 (Afrikaans)
Text: Psalm 16:11
Form for the Solemnization of Marriage
Questions (civil & vows)
Prayer (closed with Lord’s Prayer)
Signing of marriage register
Ps 150:1-3 (Afrikaans)