Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; also my flesh shall rest in confidence. Psalm 16:9
Therefore – Why are you glad? Why do you rejoice? Why do you rest in confidence (not “rest in peace” – not yet, I hope)? David has a very good reason for proclaiming these things, but we won’t see it if we skip the opening word, la-ken. The word is made up of the Lamed (L) plus the adverb ken. It means “for this reason.” Why is David glad, rejoicing and hopeful? Because YHWH is set before him and at his right hand.
Hebrew poetry does not rhyme phonetic sounds like English poetry. On my shelf is a rhyming dictionary. It’s filled with phonetic endings for thousands of words so that if I get stuck in a poem, I can find a word that sounds similar but carries a different meaning. But there is no rhyming dictionary for Hebrew because Hebrew poetry rhymes ideas, not words. You see this all the time in Proverbs. The first part of the verse says something that is repeated with different words in the second part of the verse. One thought embellishes the other. You won’t find phonetic rhymes at the end of stanzas in Hebrew. What you will find is elaboration, amplification and nuances (and sometimes alliteration). So, when you’re reading Hebrew poetry, the point is often made in two places. The thoughts are not independent of each other (remember that when you’re interpreting the passage).
David’s use of la-ken shows us that gladness, rejoicing and hope are not independent from obedience. That’s right. The first thing is setting myself before YHWH and placing Him at my right hand (a nice Hebrew idiom for the one who runs things). Remember “always?” YHWH stands before me blameless, constant, complete, perfect and holy. In order for me to be glad, to rejoice and to have confidence, I must put Him in the place of priority at the time. Obedience is the foundation of gladness, rejoicing and confidence. Oh, and by the way, ken is also a Hebrew word that means the foundation of something.
Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy a life of gladness? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be filled with rejoicing? Wouldn’t it be encouraging to have unabated confidence? All these are readily available when we set the Lord always before us. Does that mean life will be happy (not the same as glad), or blissful (not the same as rejoice) or peaceful (not the same as confidence)? No, it doesn’t. We aren’t promised lives that are free from trials and temptations. We are promised victory, comfort, reinforcements and companionship as we wait for entrance into the city not built by men. But gladness, rejoicing and confidence never depended on circumstances anyway. They only depend on who you set before you.
Topical Index: therefore, la-ken, gladness, rejoicing, hope, Psalm 16:9