David's Views of the Afterlife
I am here, Jesus:
In my last sermon I have indicated briefly from some of the psalms how David really regretted that justice under his administration was something which had not been achieved with success because the efforts of establishing a strong kingdom had withdrawn his energies from the domestic issues.
In this sermon I wish to show you that David, while intensely alive to the problems of his kingdom, and of the importance of moral living as adhesive to the covenant which the Father had, as he understood, made with the patriarchs of his people, was none the less deeply concerned with the problem of death. Psalm 16 introduces this theme to the singers of the psalms and Hebrew worshippers who, because of their faith in God, could not dissociate the idea of existence after mortal death, with the thought that right conduct according to His commands must be rewarded, if not in the material world, then in another to come, and that this applies to those who violated His statutes with appropriate punishment.
Of course, the conception of immortality is a very complex one, and runs into the human consciousness for ages; other civilizations prior to the Hebraic were also concerned with death and afterlife, and it must not be supposed that David was either an innovator or that, as some commentators of the Psalms consider, serious writers on this subject could not have been composed amongst the Hebrews except by the prophets centuries after David's time. You must understand, however, that many hands were at work after David and his composers at court had completed their songs, and that additions and revisions continued unabated, very often with material contrary to what David had said or thought simply because new ages brought with them fresh ideas, and these mingled with the original songs to give a confused picture of what these psalms first were.
Such a mingling is to be found In Psalm 16, and the language is not always David's, but we need not hesitate to credit David with expectation of life after the mortal demise:
I have set the Lord always before me;
because He is at my right hand;
I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices:
my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt
Thou suffer thine Holy one to see corruption.
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence
is fullness and joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures
for evermore. (Psalm 16, verses 8 - 11).
One need not be surprised at such ideas in David's songs of praise to God. The early Hebrews had never really given up their primitive cult of the dead, although this was frowned on by the prophets as inconsistent with complete devotion to Jehovah. The Hebrews had their Sheol, or pit of the dead, and their rephaim, or wraiths of the departed. It was natural for David to conceive of after-death in this manner and he thought of it with repugnance. He knew, too, that Saul had sought the shade of Samuel and that the latter had actually appeared to make his prediction. This is a phenomenon which you realize actually happened, and that the woman of Endor was merely a medium whose activities were prohibited because Hebrews at that time were much given to the raising of 'familiar spirits.'
David's meditations on this subject also included knowledge that Enoch, In the Book of Genesis, had been translated into heaven without suffering physical death, a sort of assumption attributed much later to Elijah, the prophet of Israel, and in the Christian age, to my mother, a piece of pious credulity which, I must tell you, she most heartily deplores. As for the date of the Book of Genesis, which of course was written down in final form centures after the death of David, let us understand that there were extant many fragments and sources upon which the editors could depend for information, and the reference to Enoch was among these.
Now David, as we know, considered himself God's anointed, and therefore, His 'holy one' who represented Him on earth. In his psalm, therefore, David felt that the Almighty God who had stretched forth his hand, as David thought, to insure him a great Hebrew nation, might in the same way extend to him, as He had to Enoch, a translation into Heaven without seeing corruption, to live with Him forevermore in Paradise.
Christians, to be sure, have commonly considered Psalm 16 as Messianic, and the verses, 'for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption,' are for them an allusion to me, their Christ. They believe this represents a prophecy as to my resurrection to physical life after my death. They believe that I left my father's tomb in the same body which had died on the cross . In this, however, they are mistaken for, as I have previously explained in a message through Mr. Padgett, I rose in a body drawn from the elements after dematerializing the one which had been destroyed.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens