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The Inexplicable Choice of Sorrow - Psalm 16:4

"Evangelists", by Yuri Avalishvili, CC BY-SA 3.0 
The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves (The sorrows of those who choose otherwise) will multiply (shall be multiplied); I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.
-Psalm 16:4 (HCSB (New Berkeley(1)))

Choices.  People make choices.  David says, in the midst of his words about choosing to follow and come under the protection, care, and benevolence of God, that many people choose otherwise.  They take another god or gods: little gods, or idols.  David observes how they pursue idolatry and how that lifestyle reaps a multiplication of sorrow in lives.
Sorrow is defined as:
A feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.
synonyms: sadness, unhappiness, misery, despondency, regret, depression,despair, desolation, dejection, wretchedness, gloom, dolefulness,melancholy, woe, heartache, and grief.
In the midst of ten other uplifting verses, verse 4 of Psalm 16 is the one sad one.  It does not seem to be a rebuke or a call to repentance for the people of God who have gone wayward and become spiritual adulteresses, but a "just saying", matter-of-fact, or it-is-what-it-is, truthful assessment of the human race that the people of God are surrounded by.

I have not wanted to write on this verse, because it is ugly.  It is not good news.  The fact that people "choose otherwise" and "wed themselves" to another god, is repulsive to me.  It is distasteful and mind-blowing.

But, I get it, that we all need salvation and deliverance.  I was not born saved.  I had to be saved and set free.  I was deceived and in bondage.  Jesus saved and delivered me.  The thought of not serving him is distasteful, but I understand and have compassion for those who are deceived and in bondage.

Humans were designed for relationship with God, the one and only God.  That relationship involves bowing down to and coming under the reign of God, and receiving care from God.  We worship and serve God.  We obey God and live our lives before God with one another.  God is good and God is love, by the way.

God does not force people to come into relationship with him.  He relentlessly loves people who have not chosen him and is kind to them.  Yet, many people choose to wed themselves otherwise.  We are designed to be worshipers and serve God and be cared for by God.

We are Christ's bride, as Christians; and in the OT, the people of God were metaphorically, God's wife.  The idea is a covenant relationship where we have fidelity to God, and we are taken care of by God.

Folks who say, "no thanks", to God, then and now, are choosing to be vulnerable to idolatry.  By choosing not to follow God, they are open to following someone else.  And who you follow is your "god".

David observed the pagan religions of his geographic area, who did "drink offerings of blood", and "spoke the names".  This was the popular pagan idolatry that surrounded Israel.  David, in line with the OT commands, says, "I will not do that".

Remember that the first of the 10 commandments is, "No other gods", and the second is, "No graven images (carved idol or representation of a god used in worship)".

Something we observe, is that if a person does not choose God, that they often choose "gods".  It is easy to see this with people in other religions, especially ones that involve prayer and/or have statues (idols).

Sometimes, people who say they have 'no religion' are also choosing another god or gods.  That god or those gods are things like their self, humanism, or libertine-ism, for example.  Narcissism is a very popular religion today.  Money also gets a lot of worship.  And money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is.

What David is saying in this side-note in Psalm 16, verse 4; is that these other paths that people choose, are paths of deep sorrow, sadness, and grief.  There is no happiness outside of the God of the Bible, the One God, The Creator, and His Christ.  Those outside, who have chosen others, can only distract themselves, get "mood altered", be in more of a delusion, and be more and more deceived, becoming deceivers. Death, destruction, and massive heartache is their inheritance.

Those who choose otherwise and wed themselves to something else, are choosing against and are not wedding themselves to what David celebrates.  Let's look at all of Psalm 16 one more time, to get the context.

Looking at the whole of Psalm 16: what Gods people get and what those who "pass" and choose sorrow:

A Davidic Miktam (secret treasure or golden songs (Ps. 16, 56-60))

Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.
   I said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”
-Protection & refuge, all that is good comes from God.

As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones.
   All my delight is in them.
-God gives nobility to all his followers and we delight in them.

The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply;
   I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.

Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing;
   You hold my future.
      The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
      Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
-God is our source, provider, and sustain-er; of a pleasant life and beautiful future.

I will praise the Lord who counsels me—
   Even at night my conscience instructs me.
-God's children are taught my him.

I keep the Lord in mind always.
   Because He is at my right hand,
      I will not be shaken.
-A byproduct of encountering God is how we continually think, which affects how we feel and act.

Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
   My body also rests securely.
-Another byproduct is that we have continual gladness and a rejoicing spirit, and we are blessed with rest.

For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
   You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.
-Children of God are never abandoned or left to rot.

You reveal the path of life to me;
   In Your presence is abundant joy;
      In Your right hand are eternal pleasures.-The life in God is joy in abundance and authentic pleasure that never ends.

These underlined words and the notes in italics, are what those who choose another god do not get.  Instead, they get multiplied sorrows.  The question becomes, "If not choosing God is that bad and they don't get all these good things, then how do they possible stay in it or not change their minds?"

The Bible says that sin is temporarily enjoyable (Heb. 11:25).  I think that the word "choose" is important.  People choose, people make choices over and over.

Previous posts on Psalm 16:

1. Berkeley Version note


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