psalm 16 contentment - person walking alone through a forest

Psalm 16: Contentment and the Path of Life

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The 17th-century French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Catholic theologian Basiel Pascal, once said:

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object.”

Obviously war is not an ethical or Biblical way to pursue happiness, but I find this perspective interesting nonetheless. Every move we make and action we take, even if it’s deferring happiness in the moment for a greater, future fulfillment of happiness, is somehow in an effort to satisfy our desires. And depression, which would seem like a lack of happiness altogether, is still a symptom of this desire for happiness, but a failure at finding it.

In a previous blog post we discussed the Christ-centered pursuit of happiness and some practical ways in which real satisfaction can be attained in this life. In my experience, a large part of happiness is simply contentment. While Psalm 16 doesn’t directly mention contentment, it’s still one of my favorite passages in the Bible when it comes to understanding contentment.

God is Our Refuge and Security

Psalm 16: 1, 2, & 5 (NIV)

1 Keep me safe, my God,

   for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

   apart from you I have no good thing.

5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

   you make my lot secure.

It’s unsure whether David, the author of this Psalm, was in physical danger at the time of its writing, or whether he was reflecting back over the span of his life. I like to think of it both ways. In times of mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, we can find security in God and gratitude for this prosperity. And when life seems chaotic and painful and filled with loss, we also have an ultimate place where we can go to find peace and goodness. Acknowledging that all we have is from God, and resting in him to hold us secure can bring a great sense of contentment, and even joy, in the midst of hardship or abundance.

God is Our Guide and Counselor

Psalm 16: 6-8 (NIV)

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

   surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;

   even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.

   With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

In our modern society, anxiety is pervasive. Its sources are numerous, but a lot of anxiety stems from a sense of a loss of control. We don’t know what will happen in the future. We worry that we might lose someone, or something might be taken away from us. We’re constantly overwhelmed and inundated by social media, which sends us conflicting messages about what it means to live happy and fulfilled lives.

This passage from Psalm 16 encourages us to reconnect with our inner guide and counselor, the Holy Spirit. As we look to God for our wisdom and insight, our hearts and minds can rest in knowing He is on our side. Setting our focus on the fortune and delightful inheritance we have, instead of on a perceived lack, can also ground us and offer contentment.

God Enlightens the Path of Life

Psalm 16: 9 & 11 (NIV)

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

   my body also will rest secure,

11 You make known to me the path of life;

   you will fill me with joy in your presence,

   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

We may never achieve or acquire all that we desire in life, but happiness can settle into our hearts when we find a sense of contentment in God’s presence. That God is both a refuge and a guide in this life, are precious attributes I personally love to meditate on. The images and feelings these attributes evoke give me a sense that I am truly on a path of life—one that fulfills the deepest desires of my heart, instead of the empty promises of materialism, wealth, success, or any other thing that is ultimately out of our control.

Reframing the way we look at our circumstances and redefining things like happiness and contentment can result in greater satisfaction in life.

But sometimes a simple reframing is not enough.

If you feel stuck in a cycle of unhappiness, negative thoughts, lack of contentment or depression, Agave Sozo in Chandler has good news for you. Inner healing prayer is a guided prayer time in which the goal is to get to the root of those things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a healed connection, you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called.

Inner healing prayer is not a substitute for Christian counseling, and some issues may require more in-depth attention than one prayer session can offer. And we highly recommend pursuing professional counseling when necessary. But if you’re interested in finding a deeper connection with God through inner healing prayer ministry, we invite you to get in touch with us.

Find out more about Sozo here and schedule your appointment today!


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/11/2019) Pixaby