Psalm 16

Media plays a significant role in our lives: it shapes our worldview and narratives, it molds our behavior, it helps us in different situations in life.  The most powerful form of media affecting us is music.  

Throughout the history of mankind, music has played a significant role.  It is not an overstatement to say that music is a universal language.  One example of this is found in the ancient city of Babylon, 2500 years ago.  Babylon was a city with a rich culture and strong media presence.  Theatrical plays, stories, myths, hymns, and songs are popular a Babylonian’s daily life.  

The problem with this comes when Israelites, the people of God, lived in Babylon.  The Babylonian media and songs present a worldview that is in direct conflict with the Israelite God.  Amidst the difficult reality of exile and a defeated nation, the Israelites had to battle the influence of Babylonian culture and influences.  It’s in this context that the Psalms were compiled.  

Psalms is a collection of songs that God has given to the Israelites to help with their everyday life.  They help the Israelites to express their thoughts, emotions and feelings in prayer.  The songs also strengthen their faith in God during a difficult time.

In this context, we find Psalm 16 to be a song about coping with loss.  

King David - the songwriter - has gone through highs and lows in his life.  He has had everything at one point, and he might tell us that he has lost everything at one point.  He writes down what he learned in Psalm 16 - that there is no good thing apart from the Lord (v.2); and chasing after other gods and idols to secure joy and happiness is in vain (v.3).  He has come to realize that the Lord is everything that he ever needs - like the best land of inheritance given to an heir.  

Sung today, the Psalm reminds us to not place our trust and our joy in the earthly things; but to direct our desire to God.  It also encourages us, especially to those who have gone through loss, that we have not lost everything.  We can never lose God himself.