Psalm 16 is quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he says that verses 9–11 were fulfilled when Jesus arose from the dead. Therefore, it is appropriate to read the psalm as Messianic and apply its verses to the Saviour. Having said that, it is also important to recognise that the psalm originally described David’s description of his own life, which means that we can interpret the psalm as expressing the desires of a godly person.
Verse 1 is a prayer for preservation from danger and it is straightforward to see how it would be a suitable prayer both for Jesus and for David. Verse 2 is a statement of commitment by which the speaker affirms that God is his Lord. Spurgeon comments regarding this declaration: ‘in his inmost heart the Lord Jesus bowed himself to do service to his heavenly Father, and before the throne of Jehovah his soul vowed allegiance to the Lord for our sakes. We are like him when our soul, truly and constantly in the presence of the heart-searching God, declares her full consent to the rule and government of the infinite Jehovah, saying, “Thou art my Lord.”’ Does the clause ‘my goodness extends not to you’ describe Jesus? Spurgeon suggests it points to the humility of Jesus.
In verse 3, the Saviour says that his people are his delight, and he is our example in estimating the worth of believers. Verse 4, on the other hand, describes Jesus’ estimation of those who are not his people and of how he detests their failure to worship the true God (‘names’ here probably refers to the titles of the false gods). So in verse 5, he repeats that his soul feeds on God (portion, when linked with cup in this verse, probably means bread). This portion Jesus regards as a wonderful and beautiful inheritance. Perhaps there is an allusion here to the manner in which Jesus participated in private and public worship, praising God for what he had done for his people.
Verse 7 indicates that Jesus, in his humanity, enjoyed being taught by the Father. As he said in John 8:28: ‘When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.’ The place from which he was instructed about his role was the Old Testament. ‘My reins also instruct me in the night seasons’ points to his inner concern to understand more. His determination to be instructed by God led him to spend nights meditating upon what he learned about himself in the Old Testament. In this, he is our role model. Meditation is the way to digest heavenly food. When we do so, we will have a similar outlook of praise and thankfulness as Jesus had.