In your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Have you ever stopped to consider that the reason Psalm 16:11 is true for you is because it was first true for Jesus?
The verse immediately before it, Psalm 16:10, is quoted a number of times in the book of Acts, including at Pentecost (which the church marks this Sunday) in reference to the resurrection of Jesus.
“You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”
In Acts 2:31, Peter calls it a prophecy from the mouth of David, who “foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.”
And if Psalm 16:10 is a prophecy about Christ, might not Psalm 16:11 be as well? If so, how might that work?
The Greatest Family Reunion
We know that, following his resurrection, Jesus ascends to heaven, where he is seated at the right hand of God, where he will reign until all of his enemies are subdued beneath his feet. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), and then the Word-made-flesh returned to heaven to dwell with God, now as the glorified God-man. In other words, in the ascension, the Son of God returns to the presence and right hand of God the Father — the same presence where there is fullness of joy, and the same right hand that contains eternal pleasures.
Jesus ascends to his Father in what may be the greatest family reunion in history. Jesus doesn’t just hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” but God welcomes him back with, “Well done, faithful and beloved Son.” He doesn’t just enter into the joy of his Master; he enters into the joy of his Father. The Father welcomes his victorious Son back from his battle with unbridled joy. He glorifies his Son in his own presence with the glory that the Father and Son shared before the world existed (John 17:5).
In other words, when Jesus ascends to his Father, the Father gives to his Son the joy of his presence. “You are my Beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased. You did it. You finished your mission. You showed them the way back. You are the Way back. There is no other name by which men can be saved from sin and from death. Now receive the fullness of My Joy.”
Jesus, then, is the first man to receive the fullness of joy in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11), the eternal pleasures at God’s right hand.
Receiving God’s Joy and Pouring Out His Spirit
But of course, the story doesn’t end there.
Jesus receives the fullness of his Father’s delight, and the first thing he does is to turn around and pour it out on his people. Jesus receives the fullness of joy from God, and then he gives it to us. Or more precisely, Jesus gives him to us. For that’s what the Holy Spirit is: the personal, eternal joy and delight of the living God.
Pentecost marks the day that Jesus shares Psalm 16:11 with us. That’s why it makes perfect sense for Peter to move from the death of Jesus, to the resurrection of Jesus, to the pouring out of the Spirit in his Pentecost sermon. After exulting in Psalm 16:10, he simply moves on to the next verse.
[David in Psalm 16] foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:31–33)
What We Receive When We Receive God’s Joy
That’s why the Holy Spirit is so central in the book of Acts. Because Jesus wasn’t abandoned to Hades, because his flesh did not see corruption, therefore God has lavished his joy on Jesus so that Jesus can lavish that same joy on us, so that the love of the Father for the Son can be in us (John 17:26). Jesus gives us his joy (John 17:13), the joy that he received from his Father. And because Jesus received the fullness of God’s joy from his Father, and because he poured out this joy in the person of the Holy Spirit upon us, therefore
we receive the joy of fellowship with other believers, placing all our good in God and all our delight in God’s saints because we are united to them by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 16:2–3; Acts 2:42–46).
we receive the great grace of generosity so that there are no needy people in our midst (Acts 4:32–34), because we know that we have a beautiful inheritance, and therefore, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Psalm 16:6; Acts 20:35).
we receive power to wisely, boldly, and gladly preach the resurrection of Jesus, because the Lord counsels us in his word and fills our hearts with joy and security (Psalm 16:7, 9; Acts 4:33).
we rejoice in opposition and persecution, because the Lord is always at our right hand so that we won’t be shaken, even when we are counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name (Psalm 16:8; Acts 5:41).
The Greatest Gift Through Many Hands
So add this to the reasons that Psalm 16:11 is precious to you: It is a Trinitarian gift.
Fullness of joy does not come to us from the Father alone. It comes to us through the Son, and it is the Holy Spirit. And passing through many hands makes for a greater gift. As C.S. Lewis says,
Through many hands, enriched with many different kinds of love and labor, the gift comes to me. . . . It is the Law. The best fruits are plucked for each by some hand that is not his own. (Perelandra, 180)
Pentecost is a great reminder that the Eternal Pleasures we receive from God the Father have passed through and been enriched by the nail-pierced and glorified hands of our Savior.