“I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:2)
Grammar gurus will likely be horrified by the title of this week’s thought (if that’s you, well done for setting aside your horror and clicking through to read it!). But most of us will recognize that it’s drawn from the 1960s Rolling Stones’ hit ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.’ A song title that, even today, chimes with many people who search in vain for meaning, fulfillment and purpose in various worldly pleasures.
More worrying, perhaps, is that a lot of Christians feel unsatisfied, unfulfilled, lacking a sense of meaning and purpose. Not that we should expect to feel fully satisfied this side of heaven. No, we’re “sojourners and exiles” in this world, writes Peter, as he reminds believers “to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). And yet, earlier in his first letter he writes that Christians – even as we suffer grief in all kinds of trials – are “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” as we believe in Christ (1:8).
Why is it, then, that so many believers today seem to demonstrate little evidence of this inexpressible and glorious joy? Why, often times, don’t we seem to bear even the first fruits of authentic satisfaction? Well, there may be a whole variety of reasons. But in Psalm 16 verse 2, David points us to one of our key problems. We tend to look in all the wrong places for the satisfaction of our souls.
David uses two different Hebrew words for Lord here. LORD in capital letters is the covenant name of God, the God who wants to have a relationship with us, Jehovah or Yahweh. It’s the name God reveals to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3. He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And David firstly acknowledges that this LORD (capitals), Yahweh, is my Lord (lower case), Adonai. Adonai means master or owner. In other words, he’s the one who sits on the throne of my heart. He’s the God of my life. He’s in control.
But secondly, David affirms that everything good in this world and in his life finds its source in this covenant God. And that apart from or outside of his relationship with the LORD, there really is nothing good: “I have no good apart from you.” Literally in the Hebrew, ‘Beyond you, no good.’ We could paraphrase it perhaps like this: ‘I’m not looking anywhere else for satisfaction, for the good things of life.’ Or ‘my well-being is completely dependent on you LORD.’
I wonder, do you believe that? We so easily seek fulfilment in all the wrong places. Trusting in things or people that can never bring us the joy and satisfaction we long for. So we put our hope in career success, perhaps. Or in a close friend or a relationship. Or in sex, or money, or holidays, or the accumulation of stuff, or building a big pension fund, or a hobby, or having the perfect home, or a spouse, or the achievements of our children, or a whole host of other things.
Let’s follow David’s example. Why not say to yourself, and yes actually say it out loud, ‘LORD you are my Lord. I have no good, no satisfier of my soul, apart from you.’ In a time of stress, need, longing or emptiness, when you’re tempted perhaps to doubt the goodness of God and put your hope in other gods, just have a quiet word with yourself. Tell yourself that there is no source of ultimate satisfaction apart from the LORD. Beyond you, no good.