Psalm 16:1-2;7a;8;11 (NASB)
Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in you. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides you.” I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
This is an amazing passage of petition, praise, and promise…but not so much for your average demon. In his classic, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote in the voice of a “senior devil” who complained about the “unfair advantage” that God had against them as they sought to do their dark work in the lives of humans – their “patients.” It presents an interesting way of looking at today’s Psalm. Speaking of God, Screwtape says:
“He’s a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a façade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are ‘pleasures for evermore’. Ugh! I don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision. He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.”
The Screwtape Letters provides a powerful “inside-out” way of looking at God’s work in the lives of His people. Because “even the demons believe, and shudder” (Jas. 2:19), they know with certainty of God’s sovereignty…his protection…his counsel…and his promises. The bigger question is: Do we? Do we really believe that what we say we believe is really real? Are we building our lives on these facts, or are we merely hoping for the best with a little faith mixed in for good measure?
This Psalm of David points out, to use Pastor John Piper’s words, that “God will bring you – body and soul – through life and death to full and everlasting pleasure, if he is your safest refuge, and your supreme treasure, and your sovereign Lord, and your trusted counselor.” That’s a potent checklist by which to measure our profession of faith…our lifestyle under His Lordship. Do we find our true safety in the fact that He is our Loving Father and cares for us? Is our relationship with Him valued more highly than any other thing this world can offer us? Have you given His Word and His Way first place in your daily decisions and life plans? Do you look to Him first and foremost as your wisest and most trusted counselor? If we are striving to make all of these points the backbone of our lives, God will guide us victoriously through the ups and downs of this life…and eventually to the forever pleasures of the next one!