Thou wilt show me the path of life - I first shall find the way out of the regions of death, to die no more. Thus Christ was the first fruits of them that slept. Several had before risen from the dead, but they died again. Jesus rose from the dead, and is alive for evermore. Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead was the first entrance out of the grave to eternal life or lives, חיים chaiyim, for the word is in the plural, and with great propriety too, as this resurrection implies the life of the body, and the life of the rational soul also.
In thy presence - פניך paneycha, thy faces. Every holy soul has, throughout eternity, the beatific vision, i.e., "it sees God as he is," because it is like him; 1 John 3:2. It drinks in beatification from the presence of the Eternal Trinity.
Thy right hand - The place of honor and dignity; repeatedly used in this sense in the Scriptures.
Pleasures for evermore - נצח netzach, onwardly; perpetually, continually, well expressed by our translation, ever and more; an eternal progression. Think of duration in the most extended and unlimited manner, and there is still more; more to be suffered in hell, and more to be enjoyed in heaven. Great God! grant that my readers may have this beatific sight; this eternal progression in unadulterated, unchangeable, and unlimited happiness! Hear this prayer for His sake, who found out the path of life, and who by his blood purchased an entrance into the holiest! Amen and Amen.
For the application of the whole Psalm to David, see the analysis at the end, which is a little altered from David's Harp Strung and Tuned.
The remains of this Psalm in the old Psalter are worthy to be inserted: -
1 John 3:7; Benedicam Dominum qui tribuit michi intellectum, etc.
Trans. I sal blis the Lord that gaf til me undirstandyng; and over that til the nyght, suyled me my neres.
Par - That es I sal luf the fader that hafs gyfen undyrstandyng til my servauntes, thurgh the qwilk the herytage of heven may be sene and welded; and aver that undyrstandyng, in the qwilk I saw, sais Crist, al sothefast thynges and haly. Of that I sal lof him that my nerys that es the Jewis of qwas kynd I toke flesch, that es my kyn snybbed me in wranges and temptaciounis, and passiouns, til the nyght, that es al the dede thai missaid hym, als so oure nerys; that es our fleschely delytes makes us worthy snybbyng til our dede; for perfytely may we noght be with outen syn, qwyles we lyf.
1 John 3:8; Providebam Dominum in conspectu meo, etc.
Trans. I pervaide God ay in my syght; for he es at the ryght hand til me, that I be nout styrred.
Par - And in al thys anguys I for gatt nout God: bot I pervayde hym ay in my syght; that es, I comande o mang passand thynges: I toke nout my nee fra hym that ay es; bot I fested it in hym, so that he was ay in my sight, and he es nout fyled in synnes that assyduely with the ee of his thoght, byhaldes God, for he es at the ryght hand of me: that I be noght styred; that es, he helps me in desyre of endless gudes, that I last stabil in hym, and for thi nane il thyng may haf mayster of me.
1 John 3:9; Propter hoc, elatum, est cor meum, et exultavit lingua mea, etc.
Trans. Thar fore gladded es my hert, and my toung joyed over that, and my flesch sal rest in hope.
Par - This es ful joy that in hert es resayved, and with toung schewed, and over that joy in hert and mouth, my flesch sal rest in hope of rysyng.
1 John 3:10; Quoniam non derelinques in Inferno animam meam, etc.
Trans. For thow sal noght lefe my Saule in hell, ne thu sal noght gyf thi Halow to se corrupcion.
Par - That es at say, the Saule that I haf als veray man, sal noght be left in hell; and my body that thu haloued, sal noght rote. Here men may knaw that this es goddes word; for other mens bodis rotes.
1 John 3:11; Notas michi fecisti vias vite, etc.
Trans. Knawen thu maked til me, the wayes of lyf: thou sal fil me of joy with thi face, delytynges in thi ryghth and in til the end.
Par - Knawen thu maked thurgh me till myne, the wayes of lyf, that es the wayes of mekenes and charite, that men came til heven thurgh mekenes, fra qwethyn thai fel thurgh Pryde: and thow sal ful fil me; that es, my servaundes, of joy with thi face; that es, in the syght of the, apertly; so that thai desyre nothing over, qwen thai af sene the, face til face, and ay til than delytynges til tham in way of this lyf. In thi ryght hand; that es thi favoure, and thi mercy the qwilk delytyngs ledys tham intil the ende, that es, in til perfectioun of endeles Blisfulhede.
I have given the whole of the translation and comment of this Psalm from this ancient Psalter, as a curious specimen of the doctrine and language of our northern neighbors in the thirteenth or fourteenth century.
Thou wilt show me the path of life - In this connection this means that though he was to die - to descend to the regions of the dead, and to lie down in the dark grave - yet there WAS a path again to the living world, and that that path would be pointed out to him by God. In other words, he would not be suffered to remain among the dead, or to wander away forever with those who were in the under world, but he would be brought back: to the living world. This is language which, in this connection, could be founded only on a belief of the resurrection of the dead. The word “life” here does not necessarily refer to heaven - to eternal life - though the connection shows that this is the ultimate idea. It is life in contradistinction from the condition of the dead. The highest form of life is that which is found in heaven, at the right hand of God; and the connection shows it was that on which the eye of the psalmist was fixed.
In thy presence - literally, “with thy face.” Before thy face; or, as the sense is correctly expressed in our version, “in thy presence.” The reference is to God‘s presence in heaven, or where he is supposed to dwell. This is shown by the additional statement that the joy mentioned was to be found at his “right hand” - an expression which properly refers to heaven. It is not merely a return to earth which is anticipated; it is an exaltation to heaven.
Is fulness of joy - Not partial joy; not imperfect joy; not joy intermingled with pain and sorrow; not joy which, though in itself real, does not satisfy the desires of the soul, as is the case with much of the happiness which we experience in this life - but joy, full, satisfying, unalloyed, unclouded, unmingled with anything that would diminish its fulness or its brightness; joy that will not be diminished, as all earthly joys must be, by the feeling that it must soon come to an end.
At thy right hand - The right hand is the place of honor (Notes, Psalm 16:8). Compare Mark 16:19; Hebrews 1:3; Acts 7:56; and it here refers to the place which the saints will occupy in heaven. This language could have been used only by one who believed in the doctrine of the resurrection and of the future state. As applicable to the author of the psalm, it implies that he had a firm belief in the resurrection of the dead, and a confident hope of happiness hereafter; as applicable to the Messiah, it denotes that he would be raised up to exalted honor in heaven; as applicable to believers now, it expresses their firm and assured faith that eternal happiness and exalted honor await them in the future world.
There are pleasures for evermore - Happiness that will be eternal. It is not enjoyment such as we have on earth, which we feel is soon to terminate; it is joy which can have no end. Here, in respect to any felicity which we enjoy, we cannot but feel that it is soon to cease. No matter how secure the sources of our joy may seem to be, we know that happiness here cannot last long, for life cannot long continue; and even though life should be lengthened out for many years, we have no certainty that our happiness will be commensurate even with our existence on earth. The dearest friend that we have may soon leave us to return no more; health, the source of so many comforts, and essential to the enjoyment of any comfort here, may soon fail; property, however firmly it may be secured, may “take to itself wings and fly away.” Soon, at any rate, if these things do not leave us, we shall leave them; and in respect to happiness from them, we shall be as though they had not been. Not so will it be at the right hand of God. Happiness there, whatever may be its nature, will be eternal. Losses, disappointment, bereavement, sickness, can never occur there; nor can the anticipation of death, though at the most distant period, and after countless million of ages, ever mar our joys. How different in all these things will heaven be from earth! How desirable to leave the earth, and to enter on those eternal joys!
Truth that is in the heart is not a cold, dead letter.... There is fullness of joy in the truth. There is a nobleness in the life of the human agent who lives and works under the vivifying influence of the truth. Truth is sacred and divine. It is stronger and more powerful than anything else in the formation of a character after the likeness of Christ. When it is cherished in the heart, the love of Christ is preferred to the love of any human being. This is Christianity. Thus truth—pure, unadulterated truth—occupies the citadel of the being. This is the life of God in the soul. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26. OHC 208.7Read in context »
The water to which Christ referred was the revelation of His grace in His Word. His spirit, His teaching, His love is as a satisfying fountain to every soul. Every other source to which men resort proves unsatisfying; but the Word of truth is as cool streams, represented as the waters of Lebanon, which are always satisfying. In Christ is fullness of joy forevermore. The pleasures and amusements of the world are never satisfying, or healing to the soul. But Jesus says, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.” RC 109.3Read in context »