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Question

What does it mean that “at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11)?

pleasures forevermore
Answer


The theme of Psalm 16 centers on entrusting one’s self to God’s care and walking closely with Him. In one way or another, the psalmist seems to say with every line, “Lord, you mean everything to me.” David, the author of the psalm, ends with this declaration of eternal trust in the goodness of God: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV).

David acknowledges that God’s providence keeps him on the path of life, even beyond the grave. He says, “You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Psalm 16:10). In the security of God’s presence, David experiences complete joy. Then he makes this curious statement: “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

The right hand is a term used metaphorically in Scripture to speak of God’s strength and power: “Your right hand, LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, LORD, shattered the enemy” (Exodus 15:6, see also Exodus 15:12; Psalm 18:35; 20:6; 63:8; 98:1). God’s right hand guides and sustains His people in times of need (Psalm 139:10). To be “at the right hand of God” is to inhabit a place of great honor and blessing (Psalm 45:9; 110:1). The Lord Jesus Christ now reigns in glory “at the right hand of God” (Mark 14:62; Acts 2:33; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 3:1) and intercedes for those He has redeemed (Romans 8:34). In the early church, believers extended “the right hand of fellowship” to offer a warm greeting and as a sign of acceptance and mutual comradery (Galatians 2:9).

When David said, “At your right hand are pleasures forever,” he was expressing trust in the knowledge that his life was eternally secure in the glorious presence of his all-powerful God. He was thinking beyond life on earth to everlasting life—resurrection life—in eternity. For this reason, on the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter cited David’s words (Psalm 16:8–11) and interpreted them as a prophecy of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:25–31). Paul also quoted Psalm 16:10 at Antioch (Acts 13:35–37) as a reference to the Lord’s resurrection.

David’s confidence in God touched every aspect of his life, extending beyond mortality. He did not fear the end (Psalm 23:4) because he trusted that not even death could interrupt the joy and pleasure of intimate fellowship with His Lord.

All the more, Christians today can say to God, “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” because we have the complete revelation of Christ’s resurrection and our participation in it (Romans 6:9; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 50–57; 6:14). We know that Jesus Christ triumphed over death (Luke 24:6; Revelation 1:18). Christ’s death and resurrection utterly changed the realities of life and death for all who believe in Him (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus lived to die and died to live again. Now He lives so that we can partake of His life forever (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16; 10:17, 28; 14:3, 19).

Christ’s “path of death” opened up the “path of life” for us (John 14:6; 1 John 5:11–12). And because we belong to Him, we too will enjoy the pleasures of God’s presence for all eternity (Colossians 3:1–4; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23) where no one can rob us of our joy (John 16:22).

When we are “at God’s right hand,” we are near to Him—so close that God needs only to extend His right hand that we might partake of the inexhaustible store of His abundant gifts and blessings. In the closeness of His presence, we are honored and privileged to enjoy His love, companionship, care, power, and protection.

The pleasures of this world are fleeting (Hebrews 11:25), but the complete joy of close fellowship in God’s presence endures forever: “Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness” (Isaiah 51:11, NLT; see also Isaiah 35:10; Zephaniah 3:17; Revelation 7:15–17).

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What does it mean that “at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11)?
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This page last updated: August 19, 2021