Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Refuge in God, the Highest Good, in the Presence of Distress and of Death
The preceding Psalm closed with the words לא ימּוט; this word of promise is repeated in Psalm 16:8 as an utterance of faith in the mouth of David. We are here confronted by a pattern of the unchangeable believing confidence of a friend of God; for the writer of Psalm 16:1-11 is in danger of death, as is to be inferred from the prayer expressed in Psalm 16:1 and the expectation in Psalm 16:10. But there is no trace of anything like bitter complaint, gloomy conflict, or hard struggle: the cry for help is immediately swallowed up by an overpowering and blessed consciousness and a bright hope. There reigns in the whole Psalm, a settled calm, an inward joy, and a joyous confidence, which is certain that everything that it can desire for the present and for the future it possesses in its God.
The Psalm is inscribed לדוד; and Hitzig also confesses that "David may be inferred from its language." Whatever can mark a Psalm as Davidic we find combined in this Psalm: thoughts crowding together in compressed language, which becomes in Psalm 16:4 bold even to harshness, but then becomes clear and moves more rapidly; an antiquated, peculiar, and highly poetic impress (אדני, my Lord, מנת, נחלת, שׁפר, תּומיך); and a well-devised grouping of the strophes. In addition to all these, there are manifold points of contact with indisputably genuine Davidic Psalms (comp. e.g., Psalm 16:5 with Psalm 11:6; Psalm 16:10 with Psalm 4:4; Psalm 16:11 with Psalm 17:15), and with indisputably ancient portions of the Pentateuch (Exodus 23:13; Exodus 19:6; Genesis 49:6). Scarcely any other Psalm shows so clearly as this, what deep roots psalm-poetry has struck into the Tra, both as it regards the matter and the language. Concerning the circumstances of its composition, vid., on Psalm 30:1-12.
The superscription מכתּם לדוד, Psalm 16:1-11 has in common with Psalm 56:1. After the analogy of the other superscriptions, it must have a technical meaning. This at once militates against Hitzig's explanation, that it is a poem hitherto unknown, an ἀνέκδοτον, according to the Arabic mâktum, hidden, secret, just as also against the meaning keimee'lion, which says nothing further to help us. The lxx translates it στηλογραφία (εἰς στηλογραφίαν), instead of which the Old Latin version has tituli inscriptio (Hesychius τίτλος· πτυχίον ἐπίγραμμα ἔχον). That this translation accords with the tradition is shown by that of the Targum גּליפא תריצא sculptura recta (not erecta as Hupfeld renders it). Both versions give the verb the meaning כּתם insculpere, which is supported both by a comparison with כּתב, cogn. חצב, עצב, and by חתם imprimere (sigillum). Moreover, the sin of Israel is called נכתּם in Jeremiah 2:22 (cf. Psalm 17:1) as being a deeply impressed spot, not to be wiped out. If we now look more closely into the Michtam Psalms as a whole, we find they have two prevailing features in common. Sometimes significant and remarkable words are introduced by אמרתּי, וימר, דּבּר, Psalm 16:2; Psalm 58:12; Psalm 60:8, cf. Isaiah 38:10-11 (in Hezekiah's psalm, which is inscribed מכתּב equals מכתּם as it is perhaps to be read); sometimes words of this character are repeated after the manner of a refrain, as in Psalm 56:1-13 : I will not fear, what can man do to me! in Psalm 57:1-11 : Be Thou exalted, Elohim, above the heavens, Thy glory above all the earth! and in Psalm 59:For Elohim is my high tower, my merciful God. Hezekiah's psalm unites this characteristic with the other. Accordingly מכתם, like ἐπίγραμμα,
(Note: In modern Jewish poetry מכתם is actually the name for the epigram.)
appears to mean first of all an inscription and then to be equivalent to an inscription-poem or epigram, a poem containing pithy sayings; since in the Psalms of this order some expressive sentence, after the style of an inscription or a motto on a monument, is brought prominently forward, by being either specially introduced or repeated as a refrain.
The strophe-schema is 5. 5. 6. 7. The last strophe, which has grown to seven lines, is an expression of joyous hopes in the face of death, which extend onward even into eternity.
Michtam of David. Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.The Psalm begins with a prayer that is based upon faith, the special meaning of which becomes clear from Psalm 16:10 : May God preserve him (which He is able to do as being אל, the Almighty, able to do all things), who has no other refuge in which he has hidden and will hide but Him. This short introit is excepted from the parallelism; so far therefore it is monostichic, - a sigh expressing everything in few words. And the emphatic pronunciation שׁמרני shāmereni harmonises with it; for it is to be read thus, just as in Psalm 86:2; Psalm 119:167 shāmerah (cf. on Isaiah 38:14 עשׁקה), according to the express testimony of the Masora.
(Note: The Masora observes גרשין בספרא ב, i.e., twice in the Psalter שׁמרה is in the imperative, the o being displaced by Gaja (Metheg) and changed into aa, vid., Baer, Torath Emeth p. 22f. In spite of this the grammarians are not agreed as to the pronunciation of the imperative and infinitive forms when so pointed. Luzzatto, like Lonzano, reads it shŏmereni.)
The text of the next two verses (so it appears) needs to be improved in two respects. The reading אמרתּ as addressed to the soul (Targ.), cf. Lamentations 3:24., is opposed by the absence of any mention of the thing addressed. It rests upon a misconception of the defective form of writing, אמרתּ (Ges. 44, rem. 4). Hitzig and Ewald (190, d) suppose that in such cases a rejection of the final vowel, which really occurs in the language of the people, after the manner of the Aramaic (אמרת or אמרת), lies at the bottom of the form. And it does really seem as though the frequent occurrence of this defective form (ידעת equals ידעתי Psalm 140:13; Job 42:2, בנית equals בניתי 1 Kings 8:48, עשׂית equals עשׂיתי Ezekiel 16:59, cf. 2 Kings 18:20, אמרת now pointed אמרת, with Isaiah 36:5) has its occasion at least in some such cutting away of the i, peculiar to the language of the common people; although, if David wrote it so, אמרת is not intended to be read otherwise than it is in Psalm 31:15; Psalm 140:7.
(Note: Pinsker's view (Einleit. S. 100-102), who considers פּעלתּ to have sprung from פּללת as the primary form of the 1 pers. sing., from which then came פּלתּי and later still פּלתּי, is untenable according to the history of the language.)
First of all David gives expression to his confession of Jahve, to whom he submits himself unconditionally, and whom he sets above everything else without exception. Since the suffix of אדני (properly domini mei equals domine mi, Genesis 18:3, cf. Psalm 19:2), which has become mostly lost sight of in the usage of the language, now and then retains its original meaning, as it does indisputably in Psalm 35:23, it is certainly to be rendered also here: "Thou art my Lord" and not "Thou art the Lord." The emphasis lies expressly on the "my." It is the unreserved and joyous feeling of dependence (more that of the little child, than of the servant), which is expressed in this first confession. For, as the second clause of the confession says: Jahve, who is his Lord, is also his benefactor, yea even his highest good. The preposition על frequently introduces that which extends beyond something else, Genesis 48:22 (cf. Psalm 89:8; Psalm 95:3), and to this passage may be added Genesis 31:50; Genesis 32:12; Exodus 35:22; Numbers 31:8; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 22:6, the one thing being above, or co-ordinate with, the other. So also here: "my good, i.e., whatever makes me truly happy, is not above Thee," i.e., in addition to Thee, beside Thee; according to the sense it is equivalent to out of Thee or without Thee (as the Targ., Symm., and Jerome render it), Thou alone, without exception, art my good. In connection with this rendering of the על, the בּל (poetic, and contracted from בּלי), which is unknown to the literature before David's time, presents no difficulty. As in Proverbs 23:7 it is short for בּל־תּהיה. Hengstenberg remarks, "Just as Thou art the Lord! is the response of the soul to the words I am the Lord thy God (Exodus 20:2), so Thou only art my salvation! is the response to Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me (על־פּני)." The psalmist knows no fountain of true happiness but Jahve, in Him he possesses all, his treasure is in Heaven.
Such is his confession to Jahve. But he also has those on earth to whom he makes confession. Transposing the w we read:
ולקדושׁים אשׁר בּארץ
המּה אדּירי כל־חפצי־בם׃
While Diestel's alteration: "to the saints, who are in his land, he makes himself glorious, and all his delight is in them," is altogether strange to this verse: the above transfer of the Waw
(Note: Approved by Kamphausen and by the critic in the Liter. Blatt of the Allgem. Kirchen-Zeitung 1864 S. 107.)
suffices to remove its difficulties, and that in a way quite in accordance with the connection. Now it is clear, that לקדושׁים, as has been supposed by some, is the dative governed by אמרתּי, the influence of which is thus carried forward; it is clear what is meant by the addition אשׁר בארץ, which distinguishes the object of his affection here below from the One above, who is incomparably the highest; it is clear, as to what המּה defines, whereas otherwise this purely descriptive relative clause אשׁר בּארץ המּה (which von Ortenberg transposes into אשׁר ארצה בהמּה) appears to be useless and surprises one both on account of its redundancy (since המה is superfluous, cf. e.g., 2 Samuel 7:9; 2 Samuel 2:18) and on account of its arrangement of the words (an arrangement, which is usual in connection with a negative construction, Deuteronomy 20:15; 2 Chronicles 8:7, cf. Genesis 9:3; Ezekiel 12:10); it is clear, in what sense אדירי alternates with קדושׁים, since it is not those who are accounted by the world as אדיריס on account of their worldly power and possessions (Psalm 136:18, 2 Chronicles 23:20), but the holy, prized by him as being also glorious, partakers of higher glory and worthy of higher honour; and moreover, this corrected arrangement of the verse harmonises with the Michtam character of the Psalm. The thought thus obtained, is the thought one expected (love to God and love to His saints), and the one which one is also obliged to wring from the text as we have it, either by translating with De Welte, Maurer, Dietrich and others: "the saints who are in the land, they are the excellent in whom I have all my delight," - a Waw apodoseos, with which one could only be satisfied if it were והמּה (cf. 2 Samuel 15:34) - or: "the saints who are in the land and the glorious-all my delight is in them." By both these interpretations, ל would be the exponent of the nom. absol. which is elsewhere detached and placed at the beginning of a sentence, and this l of reference (Ew. 310, a) is really common to every style (Numbers 18:8; Isaiah 32:1; Ecclesiastes 9:4); whereas the ל understood of the fellowship in which he stands when thus making confession to Jahve: associating myself with the saints (Hengst.), with (von Lengerke), among the saints (Hupf., Thenius), would be a preposition most liable to be misapprehended, and makes Psalm 16:3 a cumbersome appendage of Psalm 16:2. But if l be taken as the Lamed of reference then the elliptical construct ואדּירי, to which הארץ ought to be supplied, remains a stumbling-block not to be easily set aside. For such an isolation of the connecting form from its genitive cannot be shown to be syntactically possible in Hebrew (vid., on 2 Kings 9:17, Thenius, and Keil); nor are we compelled to suppose in this instance what cannot be proved elsewhere, since כל־חפצי־בם is, without any harshness, subordinate to ואדירי as a genitival notion (Ges. 116, 3). And still in connection with the reading ואדירי, both the formation of the sentence which, beginning with ל, leads one to expect an apodosis, and the relation of Psalm 16:3 to Psalm 16:2, according to which the central point of the declaration must lie just within כל־חפצי־בם, are opposed to this rendering of the words ואדירי כל־חפצי־כם.
Thus, therefore, we come back to the above easy improvement of the text. קושׁים are those in whom the will of Jahve concerning Israel, that it should be a holy nation (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6), has been fulfilled, viz., the living members of the ecclesia sanctorum in this world (for there is also one in the other world, Psalm 89:6). Glory, δόξα, is the outward manifestation of holiness. It is ordained of God for the sanctified (cf. Romans 8:30), whose moral nobility is now for the present veiled under the menial form of the עני; and in the eyes of David they already possess it. His spiritual vision pierces through the outward form of the servant. His verdict is like the verdict of God, who is his all in all. The saints, and they only, are the excellent to him. His whole delight is centred in them, all his respect and affection is given to them. The congregation of the saints is his Chephzibah, Isaiah 62:4 (cf. 2 Kings 21:1).
O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.As he loves the saints so, on the other hand, he abhors the apostates and their idols. אהר מהרוּ is to be construed as an appositional relative clause to the preceding: multi sunt cruciatus (cf. Psalm 32:10) eorum, eorum scil. qui alium permutant. The expression would flow on more smoothly if it were ירבּוּ: they multiply, or increase their pains, who..., so that אחר מהרו would be the subject, for instance like אהבו ה (he whom Jahve loves), Isaiah 48:14. This Psalm 16:4 forms a perfect antithesis to Psalm 16:3. In David's eyes the saints are already the glorified, in whom his delight centres; while, as he knows, a future full of anguish is in store for the idolatrous, and their worship, yea, their very names are an abomination to him. The suffixes of נסכּיהם and שׁמותם might be referred to the idols according to Exodus 23:13; Hosea 2:19, if אהר be taken collectively as equivalent to אחר ם, as in Job 8:19. But it is more natural to assign the same reference to them as to the suffix of עצּבותם, which does not signify "their idols" (for idols are עצבּים), but their torments, pains (from עצּבת derived from עצּב), Psalm 147:3; Job 9:28. The thought is similar to 1 Timothy 6:10, ἑαυτοὺς περιέπειραν ὀδύναις ποικίλαις. אהר is a general designation of the broadest kind for everything that is not God, but which man makes his idol beside God and in opposition to God (cf. Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 48:11). מהרוּ cannot mean festinant, for in this signification it is only found in Piel מהר, and that once with a local, but not a personal, accusative of the direction, Nahum 2:6. It is therefore to be rendered (and the perf. is also better adapted to this meaning): they have taken in exchange that which is not God (מהר like המיר, Psalm 106:20; Jeremiah 2:11). Perhaps (cf. the phrase זנה אהרי) the secondary meaning of wooing and fondling is connected with it; for מהר is the proper word for acquiring a wife by paying down the price asked by her father, Exodus 22:15. With such persons, who may seem to be אדּירים in the eyes of the world, but for whom a future full of anguish is in store, David has nothing whatever to do: he will not pour out drink-offerings as they pour them out. נסכּיהם has the Dag. lene, as it always has. They are not called מדּם as actually consisting of blood, or of wine actually mingled with blood; but consisting as it were of blood, because they are offered with blood-stained hands and blood-guilty consciences. מן is the min of derivation; in this instance (as in Amos 4:5, cf. Hosea 6:8) of the material, and is used in other instances also for similar virtually adjectival expressions. Psalm 10:18; Psalm 17:14; Psalm 80:14.
In Psalm 16:4 the expression of his abhorrence attains its climax: even their names, i.e., the names of their false gods, which they call out, he shuns taking upon his lips, just as is actually forbidden in the Tra, Exodus 23:13 (cf. Const. Apost. V. 10 εἴδωλον μνημονεύειν ὀνόματα δαιμονικά).; He takes the side of Jahve. Whatever he may wish for, he possesses in Him; and whatever he has in Him, is always secured to him by Him. חלקי does not here mean food (Bttch.), for in this sense חלק (Leviticus 6:10) and מגה (1 Samuel 1:4) are identical; and parallel passages like Psalm 142:6 show what חלקי means when applied to Jahve. According to Psalm 11:6, כוסי is also a genitive just like חלקי; מנת חלק is the share of landed property assigned to any one; מנת כּוס the share of the cup according to paternal apportionment. The tribe of Levi received no territory in the distribution of the country, from which they might have maintained themselves; Jahve was to be their חלק, Numbers 18:20, and the gifts consecrated to Jahve were to be their food, Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:1. But nevertheless all Israel is βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, Exodus 19:6, towards which even קדושׁים and אדרים in Psalm 16:3 pointed; so that, therefore, the very thing represented by the tribe of Levi in outward relation to the nation, holds good, in all its deep spiritual significance, of every believer. It is not anything earthly, visible, created, and material, that is allotted to him as his possession and his sustenance, but Jahve and Him only; but in Him is perfect contentment. In Psalm 16:5, תּומיך, as it stands, looks at first sight as though it were the Hiph. of a verb ימך (ומך). But such a verb is not to be found anywhere else, we must therefore seek some other explanation of the word. It cannot be a substantive in the signification of possession (Maurer, Ewald), for such a substantival form does not exist. It might more readily be explained as a participle equals תּומך, somewhat like יוסיף, Isaiah 29:4; Isaiah 38:5; Ecclesiastes 1:18, equals יוסף, - a comparison which has been made by Aben-Ezra (Sefath Jether No. 421) and Kimchi (Michlol 11a), - a form of the participle to which, in writing at least, סוכיב, 2 Kings 8:21, forms a transition; but there is good reason to doubt the existence of such a form. Had the poet intended to use the part. of תמך, it is more probable he would have written אתה תּומכי גורלי, just as the lxx translators might have had it before them, taking the Chirek compaginis as a suffix: σὺ εἶ ὁ ἀποκαθιστῶν τὴν κληρονομίαν μου ἐμοί (Bttcher). For the conjecture of Olshausen and Thenius, תּוסיף in the sense: "thou art continually my portion" halts both in thought and expression. Hitzig's conjecture תּוּמּיך "thou, thy Tummm are my lot," is more successful and tempting. But the fact that the תּמּים are never found (not even in Deuteronomy 33:8) without the אוּרים, is against it. Nevertheless, we should prefer this conjecture to the other explanations, if the word would not admit of being explained as Hiph. from ימך (ומך), which is the most natural explanation. Schultens has compared the Arabic wamika, to be broad, from which there is a Hiphil form Arab. awmaka, to make broad, in Syro-Arabic, that is in use even in the present day among the common people.
(Note: The Arabic Lexicographers are only acquainted with a noun wamka, breadth (amplitudo), but not with the verb. And even the noun does not belong to the universal and classical language. But at the present day Arab. 'l-wamk (pronounced wumk), breadth, and wamik are in common use in Damascus; and it is only the verb that is shunned in the better conversational style. - Wetzstein.)
And since we must at any rate come down to the supposition of something unusual about this תומיך, it is surely not too bold to regard it as a ἅπαξ γεγραμμ.: Thou makest broad my lot, i.e., ensurest for me a spacious habitation, a broad place, as the possession that falleth to me,
(Note: It is scarcely possible for two words to be more nearly identical than גּורל and κλῆρος. The latter, usually derived from κλάω (a piece broken off), is derived from κέλεσθαι (a determining of the divine will) in Dderlein's Homer. Glossar, iii. 124. But perhaps it is one word with גורל. Moreover κλῆρος signifies 1) the sign by which anything whatever falls to one among a number of persons in conformity with the decision of chance or of the divine will, a pebble, potsherd, or the like. So in Homer, Il. iii. 316, vii. 175, xxiii. 351, Od. x. 206, where casting lots is described with the expression κλῆρος. 2) The object that falls to any one by lot, patrimonium, e.g., Od. xiv. 64, Il. xv. 498, οἶκος καὶ κλῆρος, especially of lands. 3) an inheritance without the notion of the lot, and even without any thought of inheriting, absolutely: a settled, landed property. It is the regular expression for the allotments of land assigned to colonists (κληροῦχοι).)
- a thought, that is expanded in Psalm 16:6.
The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.The measuring lines (הבלים) are cast (Micah 2:5) and fall to any one just where and as far as his property is assigned to him; so that נפל חבל (Joshua 17:5) is also said of the falling to any one of his allotted portion of land. נעמים (according to the Masora defective as also in Psalm 16:11 נעמות) is a pluralet., the plural that is used to denote a unity in the circumstances, and a similarity in the relations of time and space, Ges. ֗108, 2, a; and it signifies both pleasant circumstances, Job 36:11, and, as here, a pleasant locality, Lat. amaena (to which נעמות in Psalm 16:11, more strictly corresponds). The lines have fallen to him in a charming district, viz., in the pleasurable fellowship of God, this most blessed domain of love has become his paradisaic possession. With אף he rises from the fact to the perfect contentment which it secures to him: such a heritage seems to him to be fair, he finds a source of inward pleasure and satisfaction in it. נחלת - according to Ew. 173, d, lengthened from the construct form נהלת (like נגינת Psalm 61:1); according to Hupfeld, springing from נחלתי (by the same apocope that is so common in Syriac, perhaps like אמרתּ Psalm 16:1 from אמרתּי) just like זמרת Exodus 15:2 - is rather, since in the former view there is no law for the change of vowel and such an application of the form as we find in Psalm 60:13 (Psalm 108:13) is opposed to the latter, a stunted form of נחלתה: the heritage equals such a heritage pleases me, lit., seems fair to me (שׁפר, cognate root ספר, צפר, cognate in meaning בשׂר, Arab. bs̆r, to rub, polish, make shining, intr. שׁפר to be shining, beautiful). עלי of beauty known and felt by him (cf. Esther 3:9 with 1 Samuel 25:36 טוב עליו, and the later way of expressing it Daniel 3:32). But since the giver and the gift are one and the same, the joy he has in the inheritance becomes of itself a constant thanksgiving to and blessing of the Giver, that He (אשׁר quippe qui) has counselled him (Psalm 73:24) to choose the one thing needful, the good part. Even in the night-seasons his heart keeps watch, even then his reins admonish him (יסּר, here of moral incitement, as in Isaiah 8:11, to warn). The reins are conceived of as the seat of the blessed feeling that Jahve is his possession (vid., Psychol. S. 268; tr. p. 316). He is impelled from within to offer hearth-felt thanks to his merciful and faithful God. He has Jahve always before him, Jahve is the point towards which he constantly directs his undiverted gaze; and it is easy for him to have Him thus ever present, for He is מימיני (supply הוּא, as in Psalm 22:29; Psalm 55:20; Psalm 112:4), at my right hand (i.e., where my right hand begins, close beside me), so that he has no need to draw upon his power of imagination. The words בּל־אמּוט, without any conjunction, express the natural effect of this, both in consciousness and in reality: he will not and cannot totter, he will not yield and be overthrown.
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.Thus then, as this concluding strophe, as it were like seven rays of light, affirms, he has the most blessed prospect before him, without any need to fear death. Because Jahve is thus near at hand to help him, his heart becomes joyful (שׂמח) and his glory, i.e., his soul (vid., on Psalm 7:6) rejoices, the joy breaking forth in rejoicing, as the fut. consec. affirms. There is no passage of Scripture that so closely resembles this as 1 Thessalonians 5:23. לב is πνεῦμα (νοῦς), כבוד, ψυχή (vid., Psychol. S. 98; tr. p. 119), בּשׂר (according to its primary meaning, attrectabile, that which is frail), σῶμα. The ἀμέμπτως τηρηθῆναι which the apostle in the above passage desires for his readers in respect of all three parts of their being, David here expresses as a confident expectation; for אף implies that he also hopes for his body that which he hopes for his spirit-life centred in the heart, and for his soul raised to dignity both by the work of creation and of grace. He looks death calmly and triumphantly in the face, even his flesh shall dwell or lie securely, viz., without being seized with trembling at its approaching corruption. David's hope rests on this conclusion: it is impossible for the man, who, in appropriating faith and actual experience, calls God his own, to fall into the hands of death. For Psalm 16:10 shows, that what is here thought of in connection with שׁכן לבטח, dwelling in safety under the divine protection (Deuteronomy 33:12, Deuteronomy 33:28, cf. Proverbs 3:24), is preservation from death. שׁחת is rendered by the lxx διαφθορά, as though it came from שׁחת διαφθείρειν, as perhaps it may do in Job 17:14. But in Psalm 7:16 the lxx has βόθρος, which is the more correct: prop. a sinking in, from שׁוּח to sink, to be sunk, like נחת from נוּח, רחת from רוּח. To leave to the unseen world (עזב prop. to loosen, let go) is equivalent to abandoning one to it, so that he becomes its prey. Psalm 16:10 - where to see the grave (Psalm 49:10), equivalent to, to succumb to the state of the grave, i.e., death (Psalm 89:49; Luke 2:26; John 8:51) is the opposite of "seeing life," i.e., experiencing and enjoying it (Ecclesiastes 9:9, John 3:36), the sense of sight being used as the noblest of the senses to denote the sensus communis, i.e., the common sense lying at the basis of all feeling and perception, and figuratively of all active and passive experience (Psychol. S. 234; tr. p. 276) - shows, that what is said here is not intended of an abandonment by which, having once come under the power of death, there is no coming forth again (Bttcher). It is therefore the hope of not dying, that is expressed by David in Psalm 16:10. for by חסידך David means himself. According to Norzi, the Spanish MSS have חסידיך with the Masoretic note יתיר יוד, and the lxx, Targ., and Syriac translate, and the Talmud and Midrash interpret it, in accordance with this Ker. There is no ground for the reading חסידיך, and it is also opposed by the personal form of expression surrounding it.
(Note: Most MSS and the best, which have no distinction of Ker and Chethb here, read חסידך, as also the Biblia Ven. 1521, the Spanish Polyglott and other older printed copies. Those MSS which give חסידיך (without any Ker), on the other hand, scarcely come under consideration.)
The positive expression of hope in Psalm 16:11 comes as a companion to the negative just expressed: Thou wilt grant me to experience (הודיע, is used, as usual, of the presentation of a knowledge, which concerns the whole man and not his understanding merely) ארח חיּים, the path of life, i.e., the path to life (cf. Proverbs 5:6; Proverbs 2:19 with ib. Psalm 10:17; Matthew 7:14); but not so that it is conceived of as at the final goal, but as leading slowly and gradually onwards to life; חיּים in the most manifold sense, as, e.g., in Psalm 36:10; Deuteronomy 30:15 : life from God, with God, and in God, the living God; the opposite of death, as the manifestation of God's wrath and banishment from Him. That his body shall not die is only the external and visible phase of that which David hopes for himself; on its inward, unseen side it is a living, inwrought of God in the whole man, which in its continuance is a walking in the divine life. The second part of Psalm 16:11, which consists of two members, describes this life with which he solaces himself. According to the accentuation, - which marks חיים with Olewejored not with Rebia magnum or Pazer, - שׂבע שׂמחות is not a second object dependent upon תּודיעני, but the subject of a substantival clause: a satisfying fulness of joy is את־פּניך, with Thy countenance, i.e., connected with and naturally produced by beholding Thy face (את preposition of fellowship, as in Psalm 21:7; Psalm 140:14); for joy is light, and God's countenance, or doxa, is the light of lights. And every kind of pleasurable things, נעמות, He holds in His right hand, extending them to His saints - a gift which lasts for ever; נצח equivalent to לנצח. נצח, from the primary notion of conspicuous brightness, is duration extending beyond all else - an expression for לעולם, which David has probably coined, for it appears for the first time in the Davidic Psalms. Pleasures are in Thy right hand continually - God's right hand is never empty, His fulness is inexhaustible.
The apostolic application of this Psalm (Acts 2:29-32; Acts 13:35-37) is based on the considerations that David's hope of not coming under the power of death was not realised in David himself, as is at once clear, to the unlimited extent in which it is expressed in the Psalm; but that it is fulfilled in Jesus, who has not been left to Hades and whose flesh did not see corruption; and that consequently the words of the Psalm are a prophecy of David concerning Jesus, the Christ, who was promised as the heir to his throne, and whom, by reason of the promise, he had prophetically before his mind. If we look into the Psalm, we see that David, in his mode of expression, bases that hope simply upon his relation to Jahve, the ever-living One. That it has been granted to him in particular, to express this hope which is based upon the mystic relation of the חסיד to Jahve in such language, - a hope which the issue of Jesus' life has sealed by an historical fulfilment, - is to be explained from the relation, according to the promise, in which David stands to his seed, the Christ and Holy One of God, who appeared in the person of Jesus. David, the anointed of God, looking upon himself as in Jahve, the God who has given the promise, becomes the prophet of Christ; but this is only indirectly, for he speaks of himself, and what he says has also been fulfilled in his own person. But this fulfilment is not limited to the condition, that he did not succumb to any peril that threatened his life so long as the kingship would have perished with him, and that, when he died, the kingship nevertheless remained (Hofmann); nor, that he was secured against all danger of death until he had accomplished his life's mission, until he had fulfilled the vocation assigned to him in the history of the plan of redemption (Kurtz) - the hope which he cherishes for himself personally has found a fulfilment which far exceeds this. After his hope has found in Christ its full realisation in accordance with the history of the plan of redemption, it receives through Christ its personal realisation for himself also. For what he says, extends on the one hand far beyond himself, and therefore refers prophetically to Christ: in decachordo Psalterio - as Jerome boldly expresses it - ab inferis suscitat resurgentem. But on the other hand that which is predicted comes back upon himself, to raise him also from death and Hades to the beholding of God. Verus justitiae sol - says Sontag in his Tituli Psalmorum, 1687 - e sepulcro resurrexit, στήλη seu lapis sepulcralis a monumento devolutus, arcus triumphalis erectus, victoria ab hominibus reportata. En vobis Michtam! En Evangelium! -
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.