************ Sermon on Psalm 16:10 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on April 16, 2017


Psalm 16
Psalm 16:10
"His Body Saw No Decay"
Easter 2017

Introduction
Two days ago on Good Friday we had a celebration of death service. You heard me right: we had a celebration of death service. We rejoiced and celebrated together that Christ died for our sins. Today, Easter Sunday, we have a celebration of life service. Today we rejoice and celebrate that Christ arose, that He lives never again to die.

I All the Bible Points to Jesus
A Do you remember the story of the two travelers going to a village called Emmaus? They were talking about the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday and how they lost hope that Jesus was going to redeem Israel. Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him. Do you remember what Jesus said to them? He called them foolish and slow to believe the prophets. He told them the Christ had to suffer and then enter glory.
(Lk 24:27) And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

The exact same thing happened with the disciples. They, too, had problems believing in Jesus after the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus told them all this was written about Him in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.
(Lk 24:45) Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

B Why do I mention these two incidents? Jesus wants us to know that all the Scriptures speak of Him. There are churches and pastors that have no use for the Old Testament. "We are a New Testament church," they say. "The Old Testament has nothing to say to us." How wrong they are.

This church year we have used the psalms for Advent-Christmas and for Lent-Easter. I hope you see that almost everything concerning Christ's person, life, and ministry is to be found in the psalms:
The Nature of Christ
-Jesus is called God and the Son of God (Ps 45:6-7; 2:7)
-Jesus is worshiped by angels (Ps 97:7)
-Jesus is man (Ps 8:4-6)
The Atoning Work of Christ
-Jesus came to do God's will (Ps 40:7-8)
-Jesus is King (Ps 110:1-2)
-Jesus is Priest (Ps 110:4)
The Rejection and Suffering of Christ
-He is the stone the builders rejected (Ps 118:22-23)
-He is the cornerstone (Ps 118:22-23)
-He knows His betrayer (Ps 41:9)
-He is forsaken by the Father, the crowds mock Him, His hands and feet are pierced, lots are cast for His clothing (Ps 22)

C One of the questions people ask is whether Easter's resurrection is also to be found in the Old Testament. Keeping this question in mind, let me tell you what happened two weeks ago in Senior Bible Study. This group always starts with the singing of three songs. Two weeks ago someone asked for #22 in the blue Psalter Hymnal. "Hmmm," said one of the ladies. "Do you know the tune?" "No," said the person who selected it. "Well, why did you pick it?" "Because I like the words." I agree with that person. I also like the words of #22. You probably guessed it: #22 is based on Psalm 16, our Bible reading for this Easter morning. It is a psalm that celebrates Easter's resurrection. It is a psalm that points forward to Jesus' triumph over the grave. In other words, Easter's resurrection is also found in the Psalms.

The book of Psalms provides a thrilling study of Christ. His nature, work, rejection, betrayal, suffering, death, and resurrection are all to be found in its pages.

II David in Psalm 16
A Now, let's look at the psalm in its original setting. The heading tells us David is the author. We read the psalm and it is obvious that David writes this psalm as he faces death -- his own death. It can be his life is threatened by a brutal enemy. Perhaps he is struck by a severe illness. Possibly the infirmities of old age are threatening to overwhelm him. Maybe in mind are the battles he engaged in or plots that were mounted to overthrow him. Whatever it is, David is facing death.

What is David's response? As he faced the possibility of his own death, what is David's response?
(Ps 16:1-2) Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. (2) I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."
David seeks no comfort in himself. He doesn't point to his good deeds or the sacrifices he makes in service to others. He doesn't point to his worship, prayers, songs, or offerings. Instead, David entrusts himself into the hands of the Lord. Nothing in this life, nothing that he does, nothing that he has, nothing that he gives, means anything apart from God. What counts, the only thing that counts, is the union, the communion, the fellowship that his soul has with the Almighty. Apart from God, nothing has any meaning.

Is this the way you perceive the stuff in your life: your house, car, job, spouse, vacation, health, children, grandchildren, money, entertainment? Can you honestly say, "Apart from God I have no good thing?"

Only this kind of trust can prepare a person for death. Even Jesus could endure the dark hours of death -- including the three awful hours of darkness -- only because He had surrendered His will completely to the Father.

B Now in the midst of all this David says the beautiful words of our text:
(Ps 16:10) because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Or, as another translation puts it:
(Ps 16:10, ESV) For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

In the first half of our text David continues to express his complete trust in God: "you will not abandon my soul to Sheol." That is, "You will not leave my soul in the realm of the dead." David expresses his hope and confidence that God will take his soul when his body is buried. As the Catechism puts it, "my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head." Isn't this the promise Christ made to the penitent thief upon the cross? "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23:43). The soul of the thief, like the soul of David, was not left in Sheol.

Is this your confidence? Is this your hope? Can you say with David, "you will not abandon my soul to Sheol"? Can you declare with the Catechism, "my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head"? Can you believe with the thief, "Today I will be with Jesus in paradise"?

C The second half of our text is surprising. Even shocking. David says, "You will not ... let your holy one see corruption." "You will not ... let your Holy One see decay." David cannot be talking about himself here. In his Pentecost Day sermon, Peter quotes our text from Psalm 16 and says it is impossible for David to be talking about himself here because David died and was buried in his tomb (Acts 2:29). Paul also quotes our text from Psalm 16. He declared that David fell asleep -- that is, he died; "he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed" (Acts 13:36).

A David who died and was buried, a David in a tomb, can never say he saw no corruption. A David who died and was buried, a David in a tomb, can never say he saw no decay. David would be denying the laws of chemistry if he made such a claim because anyone who dies and is buried suffers decay. The body in the grave melts away.

III Jesus in Psalm 16
A How, then, are we to understand the words of our text? What is David talking about?
(Ps 16:10) because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

(Ps 16:10; ESV) For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

We know that the first half of our text speaks of Christ: "you will not abandon my soul to Sheol." We know that between Good Friday and Easter Sunday the soul of Christ was not in Sheol. How can I say this? Remember Jesus' words to the penitent thief: "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23:43). "I tell you the truth." Jesus swears this is the truth. His soul was in paradise after death.

But now what about the second half of our text: "nor will you let your Holy One see decay"? Peter tells us in his Pentecost Sunday sermon that David was a prophet:
(Acts 2:31) Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
The Apostle Paul says something similar as he looks at Psalm 16. David is in the grave and his body decayed. "But," says Paul, "the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay" (Acts 13:37). Paul is talking about Jesus (Acts 13:33). "God raised him from the dead, never to decay ..." (Acts 13:34).

B Jesus' body saw no decay. Do you realize what a miracle this is? Do you realize how wondrous this is?

Think about dead Lazarus for a moment. Jesus went to his tomb and said, "Take away the stone." "But Lord," said Martha, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days" (Jn 11:39-40). The bad odor happens because the body of Lazarus was decomposing, decaying, corrupting.

We know that decomposition begins several minutes after death already. Enzymes start to digest cell membranes and then leak out as the cells break down. This usually begins in the liver and brain, both of which are rich in enzymes. Our bodies also host huge numbers of bacteria. Soon after death the bacteria begin to digest our bodies from the inside out.

Jesus' body was dead in the grave for three days. According to the laws of chemistry, His body should have been decaying, decomposing, corrupting. But this is not what happened:
(Ps 16:10) because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

(Ps 16:10; ESV) For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

(Acts 2:31) ... he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.

(Acts 13:34) God raised him from the dead, never to decay ...
Do you see what God did? God suspended the laws of chemistry. God suspended the laws He put into place. Jesus saw no corruption, no decay, no decomposition.

Don't say, as the liberals and unbelieving say, this means Jesus did not really die. God's justice and truth demand that Jesus had to go all the way to death. Because only the death of God's Son could pay for our sins. Jesus died and Jesus was buried. About that there can be no doubt.

C Why did God suspend the laws of chemistry for Jesus' body? Why did Jesus' body not suffer decay?

Decay is what we sinners are born with. Decay is what we sinners experience. It is part of our DNA. It is part of original sin. But Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He was born without original sin. He was born perfect. He remained perfect. And though the guilt and punishment of our sins were placed upon Him, He remained perfect to the end.

Jesus did not suffer decay. Why? Because His body was waiting for something. Because His body was waiting to be raised. Because His body was waiting for Easter morning.

Jesus did not suffer decay. Why? Even in the grave Jesus showed Himself to triumph over death and sin and Satan. When you and I die, we will suffer decay and corruption and decomposition. But not Jesus. Easter's triumph started already on Good Friday.

Conclusion
(Ps 16:10, ESV) For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

What does this mean for you and me? The last verse of Psalm 16 spells it out for you and me:
(Ps 16:11) You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Again, David is speaking as a prophet. He is telling us that the path of life is found in Jesus. Because Jesus triumphed over corruption someday we also will triumph over corruption. Because Jesus arose someday we also will arise. Because He lives we also live. This is our hope, our comfort, and our joy on this Easter Sunday.
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