Psalm 16 – Verse by Verse – Finding Joy in God’s Boundaries

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“Why did I think I could live my life with boundaries in some areas and not in others?” This is the question posed me to me in my Bible study this morning that struck like a lightening bolt.

Clearly, I have boundaries in my life.

I am faithful to my husband, I don’t use profanity, and there are certain movies and TV shows I simply do not watch. So, there are clear and distinct boundaries in some areas in my life.

Yet, in other areas of my life, I want to throw off all boundaries and live without restraint.

If our culture today could choose one motto, it could possibly be “Do what makes you happy”. And this sentiment is repeated in many Christian circles.

We have latched on to an idea that God’s ultimate desire for us is to be happy.

So, He is willing to look past certain sins, as long as we’re happy while we’re sinning. As long as our immorality or adultery is making us happy, it’s okay.

As long as our partying on the weekends is making us happy, it’s okay.

As long as we’re having fun with our family, it’s okay that we skip church every other weekend, because it’s making us happy.

Actually, God’s ultimate desire isn’t for us to be happy.

There is no verse in the Bible to support this idea. However, there are several verses in the Bible that command us to be holy – and that holiness comes with certain and very firm boundaries.

And it is this line of thought that led me to Psalm 16.

Psalm 16 – Verse by Verse – Finding Joy in God’s Boundaries

I like to work through chapters and books verse by verse, going through each word carefully and soaking up every ounce of meaning I can out of it.

And I want to invite you to join me today.

V 1 – “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

David is saying to God, “Guard over me, O God, because you are my shelter, my refuge”. When we think of a refuge or shelter, this is a hiding place.

From what?

From danger. And when we find a hiding place, it is usually a small, confined place; and we willing stay within it’s confines because we know that the moment we step out of that shelter, we are exposed to danger.

V 2 – “O my soul, you have said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.'”

There are a few things I found in this verse when I looked at the Hebrew text. First, the word goodness refers to our wellbeing: prosperity, favor, pleasantness. Also, there is no translation for “is nothing apart from You”, giving the sense that this verse could read that the Lord is his goodness.

Which is, in fact, what David saying.

And we see that this is his soul saying this. The soul: mind, will, emotions.

So, David knows – not just in his mind, but he knows deep in his psyche….his will understands this and his emotions agree, that God is the source of all his goodness.

And when we know that, we realize that we don’t have to turn to any other source for fulfillment.

See my post here on a verse that completely changed my life regarding finding fulfillment.


So, God is our place of refuge, it may be confining, but we don’t mind because we are safe from destruction. And it is in this confined safety that we find our source of fulfillment, prosperity, and all good things.


V 3 – “As for the saints who are on the earth, ‘They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.'”

David, again, is setting up a boundary in friendships. Who are those whom he has chosen to be in his inner circle? He calls them “saints”. The Hebrew word is qados – consecrated ones.

He says that they are nobles, mighty, and glorious. In other words, they are his heroes, his mentors.

These are the ones he wants to look to, to invest in.

While I firmly believe that we should have unbelievers in our life at some level, we will run into great trouble if our inner circle consists of those who do not hold the same spiritual values as we do.

If all of our delight is in those who are not consecrated – set apart for holy use, we will find that their ungodly values will influence us negatively.

V 4 – “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, nor take up their names on my lips.

So, not only does David limit his inner circle of friendships to those who are set apart for God, but he refuses to engage with those who run headlong after other gods.

He says that their sorrows – pain, injury – will multiply one on top of another.

He refuses to take part in their idolatry, or even speak the names of their gods.

And while today that kind of idolatry David talks about isn’t common (though it is becoming more and more common again), there is definite idol worship in our culture: Celebrity worship.

Even in Christian culture.

We have our own Christian celebrity worship that is just as idolatrous as celebrity worship in the world.

But we engage in other religious rituals, as well; like Yoga and other eastern meditative practices.

V 5 & 6 – “O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.”

David is content with the boundary lines God has set for him. God had determined a “portion”, a ration, for him. An inheritance. And what is that portion, that inheritance?

God Himself!

Instead of trying to find fulfillment, rest, peace, tranquility, safety, healing….or whatever it is that he was looking for in advice, philosophies, and practices of other religions and rituals, David looked to God alone.

He refused to drink from the cup of the “drink offerings of blood” meant for other gods.

Instead, He knew where the boundary lines were drawn and found delight in them; because He was fully content with God as His portion.


God is our place of refuge, it may be confining, but we don’t mind because we are safe from destruction. And it is in this confined safety that we find our source of fulfillment, prosperity, and all good things.

We refuse to look for any fulfillment or pleasure outside of this place of safety, because we recognize the danger of finding delight in idolatry and the rituals meant for idolatrous worship.

Instead, we find our fulfillment and everything we need for this life within the lines that have been drawn for us by the wise hand of Almighty God. “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2 Peter 1:3


V 7 – “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.”

There are two things that stand out clearly in this verse.

David’s counsel came from God. Where do we find God’s counsel today? Through His Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.

If we want to live by God’s counsel, we must abide in His Word.

And when we abide in His Word, He gives us a clear promise: We will know truth, and this truth will make us free!

But David took it a step further. He didn’t just listen to God’s counsel, He meditated on this counsel.

“…my heart also instructs me in the night seasons”

This is a very interesting phrase, because the King James Version says “my reigns”. Some translations use “heart” others use “mind”, and the Hebrew word is literally translated “kidneys”.

Clearly, this is referring to the innermost part of us. The part of us that speaks to our subconscious in our sleep.

We all know that what we meditate on during the day is processed through our subconscious as we sleep. And David’s heart (or mind….or kidneys) were instructing him, chastening him, disciplining him, in the night.

How so?

Through God’s counsel that he had meditated on during the day.

V 8 – “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”

When I looked at the Hebrew translation of this, I began to get a beautiful picture of what David was speaking about here.

The phrase “I have set” is referring to an equivalent, or resembling, becoming like something. That confused me at first, because I was struggling to understand how that fit in this verse.

And then the phrase came to me, “Do not compare yourself to others, compare yourself to Christ.”

And I realized, David is saying “I am confident because I have set the Lord before me as my comparison. He holds the highest place of honor in my life (at my right hand). Therefore, I have no need to feel insecure, I am firmly established.

David doesn’t look for his validation from any other source but God.

He is my identity. He is my example. He is my validation.

Are we getting a picture here?


God is our place of refuge, it may be confining, but we don’t mind because we are safe from destruction. And it is in this confined safety that we find our source of fulfillment, prosperity, and all good things.

We refuse to look for any fulfillment or pleasure outside of this place of safety, because we recognize the danger of finding delight in idolatry and the rituals meant for idolatrous worship.

Instead, we find our fulfillment and everything we need for this life within the lines that have been drawn for us by the wise hand of Almighty God. “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2 Peter 1:3

God is our source of fulfillment. He is our counsel. He is the One to whom we compare ourselves, and therefore we are firmly established, validated, and confident in Him and His Word teaching and instructing us day and night because He is our everything!


V 9 – “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.”

Heart in this verse isn’t just your heart, but your soul, your mind, your emotions – your innermost being. “…and my glory rejoices” speaks to me about my reputation.

My reputation is established in Christ, therefore, I don’t have to keep up appearances put on a façade because my reputation rejoices in Christ alone.

And I am settled and at rest in the confidence (hope) I have in Christ.

In who I am in Christ.

Grab these free verses that declare your identity in Christ!

V 10 “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

Before Jesus came and defeated death, hell, and the grave, His consecrated people went to “Sheol”, which was a compartment reserved for them — that Jesus emptied when he descended into hell as a victorious warrior.

Those who were in Sheol then went to paradise.

So, He did not leave his soul in Sheol, and did not allow His Holy One – Jesus – to see corruption, as we know.

His promises are solid, and we can depend upon every, single one of them!

V 11 – “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Everyone is looking for joy and pleasure in life. That is why we see that statement often, “Do what makes you happy”, or “Hygge“, because we want to find joy and pleasure in life.

For many years it was “bigger is better”, so people got bigger houses and bigger cars.

When they realized that bigger things didn’t bring bigger joy or bigger pleasure, they started trying to find joy in the “little things”.

So, we began emptying our huge closets and turned to capsule wardrobes.

We sold our big houses and chose tiny houses instead.

We sold our big cars and bought compact.

But, the problem wasn’t the size of our toys, the problem was the source of our joy and pleasure!

David says joy is found in God’s presence and eternal pleasures are at His right hand…in heaven. The kingdom of Heaven is our eternal pleasure.

When we discover the truth of this, we have discovered the path of life.


God is our place of refuge, it may be confining, but we don’t mind because we are safe from destruction. And it is in this confined safety that we find our source of fulfillment, prosperity, and all good things.

We refuse to look for any fulfillment or pleasure outside of this place of safety, because we recognize the danger of finding delight in idolatry and the rituals meant for idolatrous worship.

Instead, we find our fulfillment and everything we need for this life within the lines that have been drawn for us by the wise hand of Almighty God. “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2 Peter 1:3

God is our source of fulfillment. He is our counsel. He is the One to whom we compare ourselves, and therefore we are firmly established, validated, and confident in Him and His Word teaching and instructing us day and night because He is our everything!

He is our identity. He is our reputation.

And because we know who we are, and whose we are, we can risk our whole life on His promises. We will find total and complete joy, even in the hard seasons of life; and we will find eternal pleasure.

We will find life itself.


Dear sisters – happiness isn’t about doing what we want. Happiness is about finding ourselves in Christ and finding rest within the boundary lines He has drawn for our safety.

It’s about finding Him, and when we truly find Him, we find that all of things around us fall into their proper role of being useful tools for living here on earth – not our source of identity, joy, contentment, or fulfillment.

Rosilind
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  1. Praying for boundaries between my neighbors and myself they are demanding Christ followers leave the complex praying they don’t remember me even standing before me we are not to invite such people to our home or eat with them even in the hospital having a baby there are healthy boundaries between patients. Retired nurse. Atlanta Ga

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