Someone who understood that God’s heart was to bless and prosper him was King David. He could well have heard those words that Jeremiah spoke, “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”, Jeremiah 29:11, many times throughout his life. While thinking about this I was drawn again to Psalm 16, David’s personal testimony that in all the ups and downs of his life he walked with God. He was able in both triumph and tragedy, to believe in the goodness of God’s heart intention towards him. It’s no wonder he was called a man after God’s own heart, Acts 13:22
The Psalm starts with his prayer for protection and his declaration that he is making God his refuge, his safe place in life. We know that God had huge plans for David, but that in the mix David also had his enemies, and his own personal failings. He certainly needed God to be his refuge, but he also acknowledged God to be the source of all the good in his life, and a little further on in the psalm we have his wonderful declaration of surrender to, and trust in, God’s goodness towards him.
He writes ‘Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure and my portion. I leave my destiny and it’s timing in your hands, your pleasant paths lead me to pleasant places. I’m overwhelmed by the privileges that come with following you, for you have given me the best’. Psalm 16:5,6 (This is from The Passion Translation).
David’s experience of God, predates the promise in Jeremiah, but it helps us to understand that many of the blessings that are promised to us, will be experienced as we stay very close to Him in our hearts, becoming aware that He is in fact close to us at all times. David puts it like this ‘I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue (my inner self or ‘glory’) rejoices; my body also will rest secure.’ Psalm 16:8,9. In other words he experiences joy in the Lord through his emotions, his spirit, and it even affects his physical body too, because the Lord is central to his every move.
The Passion Translation puts it this way, ‘Because you are close to me and always available, my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap around presence every moment’. This is, I believe, what thanksgiving does for us. It enables us to sense His wrap around presence at all times and in all places. It’s a similar idea to the ‘abiding’ that Jesus spoke of in John 15. Jesus also linked ‘abiding’ or ‘remaining’ in His love to joy. He says ‘I have told you this (to remain in my love) so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’ John 15:14.
David continues and ends the psalm with the lovely statement ‘You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Psalm 16:11. We need to remember here that ‘eternal’ for us has already started, so this is not just pleasures when we get to heaven, but those wonderful surprises and interventions that happen in our lives here on earth. Those moments that come straight from the heart of God to us, in the here and now.
David knows that he has a destiny and that God will guide and lead him. He knows that God’s plans for him will be good, and full of joys and pleasures. It sounds from this psalm as if he had insight into the promise God would speak out hundreds of years later through Jeremiah. That promise from God to prosper His people and to give them a future and a hope. So we too can thank God that the set of His heart towards us is to bless and prosper. He needs no persuading. It’s us that are sometimes slow to believe.
David knew that the best way to appropriate all the blessings of God was to keep very close to Him. Thanking God was a big part of that, and he often sang it out ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good’ Psalm 106:1. So let us like David live every day thanking God and placing Him right before us, right at the centre, then we can expect to spend our days full of joy in His presence, experiencing those eternal pleasures that are at His right hand forevermore.