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:
- “Embracing Childlike Faith” by Jasmine L. Holmes
- “Hoping in a Beautiful Future” by Erin Davis
- “Keeping Close to God” by Jared C. Wilson
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.
Fullness of Joy: Rejoicing in God’s Presence
Waiting rooms are rarely welcoming. Instead of a pot of fresh tea brewing, biscuits baking, and cozy chairs with plush blankets, they house sterile pleather chairs, elevator music on repeat, stale coffee with powdered creamer, and commercial abstract art on otherwise blank walls. I’m sitting in one of these sterile chairs waiting for the doctor to call me back for outpatient wrist surgery. I can’t stop thinking about the prayer of David I read in Psalm 16:11 earlier this morning: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Fullness of joy. I turn these words over in my mind as I reposition in my uncomfortable chair. Psalm 16 has been a long-time companion of mine, a welcome comfort when the burdens of life become too weighty to carry. The first words of this psalm—“Preserve me, O God” (v. 1a)—are a familiar refrain I often repeat as my own prayer.
Preserve me, O God, as I face this surgery. Preserve me as I battle crippling fears of what could happen. O God, preserve me, in every moment.
Life in a Broken World
Scripture doesn’t reveal what trial David was facing when he wrote Psalm 16. But it does make clear that David found eternal safety and rest in God. Not because he was removed from his circumstances, but because he placed his hope in God in the midst of them.
Our lives are fraught with trials in this broken world. Maybe you’ve been betrayed by a loved one and are wondering if there is hope for restoration. Perhaps you’ve just received a phone call from your doctor informing you of bad news. Or maybe you’re simply overwhelmed as you raise young children, and in the midst of temper tantrums and sweeping up crumbled Veggie Straws, you wonder if fullness of joy is truly possible.
Psalm 16 displays God’s rescue and attentive care for his people. God is good, and all good comes from him (v. 2). This truth is a pillow we can rest our heads on, even as we endure the discomfort of not knowing what our next moments hold. The nurse calls my name and a surge of adrenaline rushes through my unsteady nerves. As I walk back to the operating room, I wonder if the promise of fullness of joy is available to me in this.
Rejoicing in God’s Character
After David's initial petition for preservation, he boasts about God's abundant provision, unchanging character, and faithful instruction. In verse 9, David bursts with delight: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” David experienced fullness of joy in God—body, mind, and soul. Therefore is a key word in this verse, focusing our attention on what has just been said. How did David experience such fullness of joy? Verse 8 illuminates the answer: by setting the LORD always before him.
How do we set the LORD always before us like David did? How do we partake in this all-encompassing joy and confidence in God that David experienced? The answer isn’t found in what we do but in who this passage of Scripture points to—Jesus Christ.
Rejoicing in Salvation
In his Spirit-filled sermon in Acts 2, the apostle Peter connects the messianic prophecy foretold in Psalm 16 to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Acts 2:25–28). A messianic understanding of the psalm changes how we live, endure, and look forward to enjoying the fullness of joy in God’s presence.
In Psalm 16:1–9, David speaks of God’s faithfulness to keep his soul in life, and in verse 10, he attests to God’s faithfulness to keep his soul in death: “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” When David speaks of Sheol, he refers to a place of death and darkness.1 Later in the Psalms, David also writes, “For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (Ps. 86:13). Both of these passages brim with messianic hope, directing our eyes to Christ, who saved us from Sheol and gives us fullness of joy in the presence of God.
Christ conquered sin through his crucifixion and defeated death through his resurrection. Because of his matchless power and great love, we are not forsaken or destroyed (Rom. 8:37–39). We are no longer left in our hell-bound state, held hostage in a prison of fear, or shackled by our sin. In Christ, Sheol has no hold on our souls, no power over our fate. The steadfast love of God resuscitates our lifeless hearts and leads us along the path of life (Eph. 2:1–7).
Rejoicing in Christ
Faith in Christ swings the door wide open to God’s presence, and fullness of joy has become ours in and through him. His presence is a promise for children of God, even when we don’t feel it (Ps. 139:7–12; Matt. 28:20). Fullness of joy is a future reality we look forward to experiencing when we dwell with God forever in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1–3). And, by his grace, we enjoy glimpses of this abounding eternal happiness while we live on earth too.
Like David, we can have joy in Christ as we face the trials before us with confidence in God’s preservation and provision. Because Christ lived a sinless life, endured death in our stead, and rose from the dead, we too can partake of the fullness of joy only found in him, both as a present reality and a future hope.
Whatever trial or suffering you face today, rest assured—God’s presence is a promise, and fullness of joy is your eternal hope. May we confidently pray, Preserve us, O God, and enter into God’s promises, knowing our hope in life and in death is Christ alone.
- “Sheol,” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Volume 2), ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1949.