The Fullness of Joy Series celebrates the launch of the new Give Me Jesus Journal and the Fullness of Joy Collection. Each article in this series is a devotional on a passage from Psalm 16. Read the other articles in the series here:
- “Hoping in a Beautiful Future” by Erin Davis
- “Keeping Close to God” by Jared C. Wilson
- "Rejoicing in God's Presence" by Gretchen Saffles
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
Fullness of Joy: Embracing Childlike Faith
Psalm 16 has been one of my favorite passages of Scripture ever since I can remember. Because I’ve been a Christian for almost as long as I can remember.
I was six years old when I made my own profession of faith. I remember sitting in the backseat of my mom’s black 1995 Chevy Cavalier, looking out the window and up into the heavens and praying to the God I had known for as long as I knew my own name. Through my years at private Christian school learning Bible verses, at AWANA doing Bible drills, and sitting in the pews of the churches where my dad pastored, I knew “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11) like the Schoolhouse Rock! generation knows “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?”
Which is to say, very, very well.
I knew the words before they were tried and tested in my life. Before my family moved to England and away from everything I knew. Before my mom got sick and we held our breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Before my first heartache, before my frightened career choices, before my first miscarriage.
I knew the words “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge” (Ps. 16:1) before it was difficult to live them.
Perhaps when you first read the words of Psalm 16:1–4, you read them like I read anything on my first pass—a bit detachedly, taking them into my head and not quite into my heart. So read them again. And this time, imagine David writing those words.
David, who was hunted by a man he once considered mentor and friend. David, whose sin drove a rift between him and God and led to the death of his and Bathsheba’s first child. David, who wanted to build the temple but had so much blood on his hands from toeing the line between warrior and poet.
David’s faith was far more lived-in than my six-year-old faith was. Maybe you feel like it was more lived-in than yours is, too. But the beauty of God’s love is that the more lived-in faith is, the more childlike it becomes.
Here’s what I mean. When I held each of my newborn sons in my arms, they looked up at me with complete and total trust. They knew that, in me, they would have everything they needed—sustenance, warmth, love, and safety. They knew my voice from their earliest existence and trusted me implicitly.
The older my sons get, the more that faith tends to waver. They question me more often, begin to worry, begin to doubt. That’s normal. But, at their core, they still know, with the same certainty that those big-eyed, helpless babes had, that my love for them is steady, unwavering, and unconditional.
There’s a reason why God compared himself to a nursing mother (Isa. 49:15) and why Jesus tells us to have the same faith as little children (Matt. 18:2–4). That deep, abiding trust that comes from a strong parent-child relationship teaches us so much about how God cares for us. The bold and unquestioning faith of a six-year-old is not misplaced in the God who will see her through the next sixty, seventy, or eighty years.
Faith in Our Good Father
Theologian Herman Bavink described the kingdom of God as the highest good, the best thing for individuals and communities, that which we should pursue above all else. He states that “its essence surpasses everything temporal and earthly.”1 Put in David’s language: we have no good apart from God (Ps. 16:2). This doesn’t mean that there is nothing good except for God, but rather that he is the author and completer and perfecter of all good things.
Where we run into trouble is when we elevate the good that God has created above the Creator (Rom. 1:25). When we look to temporal and earthly things to give us purpose, when we set them up as the gods we worship, David tells us that our sorrows will multiply (Ps. 16:4).
God calls us to worship him alone—not the gifts he gives, and not the false gods who would claim to be the authors of those gifts.
We need nothing apart from God. In him, we have absolutely no lack. We are like infants cradled in the arms of a loving mother who will do anything for us. We’re safer, even, than a little girl strapped safely into the backseat of a black 1995 Chevy Cavalier with her mother in the driver’s seat and the God of the universe in her heart.
Meet the Author
Jasmine L. Holmes is a passionate writer, research assistant, and educator who celebrates Black stories through her books, teaching, and public history resources. Through her research, she uncovers the hidden narratives that shape our understanding of history. Her commitment to centering Black experiences shines through in her writing, which includes the books Carved in Ebony, Mother to Son, and Never Cast Out. Alongside her husband and three sons, Jasmine calls Jackson, Mississippi, home. Learn more at jasminelholmes.com and connect with her on Instagram @jasminelholmes.