The Blessing of God’s Presence

How would you rate your satisfaction with life right now? On a scale from one to ten, I imagine that the Ukrainians in the cities of Kyiv or Mykolaiv would rate theirs about a minus ten. Maybe the Russians affected by sanctions would give theirs a one or two. If you’re recovering from an injury, affected by illness, financial troubles, or have lost a loved one, you might also be closer to a one than a ten. But life doesn’t have to be rated based on our circumstances; it’s possible to have all these issues at play and be satisfied that you have precisely what you need, what God intends for you to have. Let’s drill down from satisfaction with our circumstances to happiness with our conditions—to the root of our blessedness—the way we think about ourselves and our lives. Our attitudes are vital to our contentment, but even they are not the source of it. The true foundation of our satisfaction and enjoyment of life is our hearts’ beliefs about life. We can think about life as temporary, complicated, and challenging but survivable with the Lord’s help. Or we can truly experience God’s presence, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19) We can live life to the best of our ability, striving for satisfaction. Or, we will live in God’s presence, with His light that “rejoices the heart” and with Christ’s ‘good news [that] refreshes the bones’ (Proverbs 15:30). In our passage today, we find that David’s time with the Lord has resulted in his contentment with God’s providence, inheritance, counsel, and assurance. Likewise, when we intentionally spend time with God, we enjoy and share the blessings of his providence, inheritance, counsel, and security.

Emmanuel, God With Us

I don’t know about you, but I wake up in the morning with a foggy mind and heart. When my little dog happily urges me to get out of bed, I feel a sense of contentment that all is right. Maybe it’s your spouse or children who help you to disengage from the fog of discontentment. Hopefully, it’s not the news because you think you are lucky or blessed not to be in Ukraine or Russia right now. A better way to overcome discontentment is by meditating on our blessings as David did. “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:5-8) “Our sense of closeness fluctuates. But God is always there…In thinking about our fellowship with Christ we must never imagine that Christ is hiding in a corner, waiting for us to break through his hard exterior, just hoping we’ll pay attention to him. He is constantly reaching out, wooing, speaking, entreating, moving, and standing at the door to knock (Rev. 3:20)…In his brilliant work, ‘Communion with God,’  John Owen tales four hundred pages to unpack how we can have communion with each distinct member of the Trinity…The book demonstrates at length that ‘communion’ is an all-encompassing and complicated theme. But thankfully, behind all of Owen’s dense prose is the central and rather simple thesis that communion with God consists of ‘mutual relations’ between God and us. So when I speak of communion with Christ I mean strengthening our relationship with him. As our communion deepens, we enjoy sweeter fellowship and interchange with him. We grow in knowledge of and him and affection for him, and we experience more richly his love and affection for us…seeing and savoring his grace more and more each day—we also obey Christ more fully and more freely.” (1)

Chosen, Counseled, and Instructed

“[This] part of the psalm describes the psalmist’s present blessings. There are four of them. First, ‘you have assigned me my portion and my cup’…It is what we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer when we recite, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ It means that we are looking to God for our provisions. ‘You have made my lot secure.’…probably is speaking about the psalmist’s general circumstances…With the Lord defending him, he is not going to be uprooted or cast out. Third, ‘the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.’ Isn’t it interesting that the psalmist is content with what God has meted out to him, especially since so many people are discontent? Discontent is one of the most striking characteristics of our time…There is no cure for this except in God. Fourth, ‘the Lord… counsels me.’ David needed counsel he could trust. So do we! God provides such counsel if we will ask him. The Bible says, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.’ (James 1:5).” (2) David’s time with the Lord has resulted in his contentment with God’s providence, inheritance, counsel, and assurance. Our intentional time with God, enjoying the blessings of his providence, inheritance, counsel, and assurance will also result in contentment.

Our Interest in God’s Presence

“God’s presence, in which the psalmist delights, is seen in the moral instruction he receives, and it results in his assurance of stability…a result of deliberate reflection; likewise to ‘set the Lord always before me’ expresses intention.” (3) “Christ works, often imperceptibly, without your knowing participation, to draw us close to himself. But we also have a role to play. Just as in any relationship, there are practices we must develop and work hard at if we are to grow in our communion with Christ. We pursue communion with Christ through prayer…the word of truth…fellowship with other Christians…partaking of the Lord’s Supper…[but] If we are honest, communion with God is not a priority for many of us. At best, it sounds unrealistic. At worst, it sounds irrelevant. Communion with God is a small thing to us. We do not marvel that we can have fellowship with God in the first place. If anything, we take it for granted…Communion with God is possible only because of our union with Christ. And what a remarkable possibility! The goal in the Garden [of Eden] was uninterrupted fellowship with God. The aim ever since has been restored fellowship with God. The end of the story is eternal fellowship with God…That sinners can have fellowship with God is astonishing…You can know God You can commune with God. You can be holier than you think.” (4) David’s contentment with his life resulted from his time with the Lord. The more time we spend with God, the more we will enjoy his blessings.

Our Hope of Everlasting Joy

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps. 16:9-11) “David [may have been] writing of his own hope, expecting that God would not abandon him to the grave and would preserve him. He did not have the resurrection of Jesus before him as a sample of what he had in mind or proof of what God can and will do, as we who live on this side of the resurrection do. How did David get to this point? There is only one answer. It was by the logic of faith. He reasoned that if God had blessed him and kept him in this life, then God, who does not change, would undoubtedly keep him and bless him in the life to come. One commentator has written, ‘The boldness of it all almost leaves the reader breathless. How can a man see all men dying and note that all the children of men before him have died without exception and still say: God cannot let that happen to me! It appears like sheer being carried away into rhapsody of bold assertions. But still, in the last analysis, must not faith draw the conclusion that, if you hold to God, God will take care of you perfectly.'” (5) Should we not enjoy God’s blessings rather than give in to the world’s darkness? “And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.'” (Acts 13:32-34)

Related Scripture: Numbers 18:20; Psalms 7:10; 16:5-7; 125:3; 142:4-5; Jeremiah 10:16; Lamentations 3:24-26; Luke 24:44; Acts 2:25-28; 1 Corinthians 7:16; 10:33.

Notes:

  1. DeYoung, Kevin, The Hole in Our Holiness, p. 125, 128, Crossway, 2021.
  2. Boice, James, “Boice Expositional Commentary Series,” Psalms 16, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
  3. English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Psalms 16:5-8, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
  4. DeYoung, p. 128-135, Ibid.
  5. Boice, Ibid.

March 31, 2022

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