Read Psalm 16.
One of the strategies of the enemy has always been to use what we see to influence how we think. Not only does he tempt our flesh with the beautiful, the delicious, and the sublime; he also tries to teach us crooked theology using visual lessons. He did it with Job*, taking everything the man had, killing his children, and taking his health. He wanted Job to look around him and doubt the goodness of God (Job 1:9–11; 2:5).
However, Job didn’t fall for it. Although he needed a bit of correction from God (see Job 38–41), Job believed that God Himself would be his refuge, even if he lost his own life:
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25–27)
Centuries later, Satan used a similar tactic. With all of Jerusalem watching, he took the Man attested by God with miracles, signs, and wonders, and had Him beaten to a pulp, crowned with thorns, spat upon, and crucified like a common criminal. He not only wanted to end the life that was changing the world; he wanted the world to believe that God had abandoned the One they thought would be the Messiah.
It was hard to make sense of what was happening—even for many of Jesus’ closest friends. They ran away and hid when trouble came (Matthew 26:56). And many who stood by the cross saw Jesus’ suffering as a sign that God was not with Him: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One” (Luke 23:35).
But those people ought to have remembered the book of Job—or Psalm 16 for that matter. Death is not a problem too big for God: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Psalm 16:10).
David knew the goodness of God does not step at death. In fact, in many ways it’s only just the beginning; there are “eternal treasures at [God’s] right hand” (v. 11). His confidence in God’s goodness was so strong that by faith he perceived death itself could not stop it.
And now, standing on the other side of the cross, where David’s faith has been proven to be fact in light of the resurrection of Jesus, we can say with confidence:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)
Every true failure in my life—every sin, every shortcoming, every serious mistake—stems from not believing with all my heart the words of Psalm 16:2—“I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’”
There would be no temptation that could sway us and no idol that could cause us to bow down if we knew, deep down in our souls, every moment of every day, that there is no goodness in this life apart from God. We were created by Him and for Him; He is our everything—or at least He should be. But the sin within us infects us with a diabolical strain of amnesia, and we quickly forget this truth. Psalm 16 is like a shot of some wonderful drug that shakes us out of our stupor. Our eyes become clear, and our minds lucid, if only for a moment.
I need to keep coming back for a fix. I need to remember what’s true.
* Yes, I’m aware that in Hebrew, “Satan” is actually “the satan,” or “the adversary.” However, contrary to what some folks may tell you, there are good reasons to believe that the adversary here in Job is indeed the figure called Satan in the New Testament.